Interview With 'Forever Danniebelle Ministries'
Danniebelle Hall Retrospective
Itís a fascinating story. The youngest daughter of the late Danniebelle Hall tells of the development of Forever Danniebelle Ministries.
ó feature compiled by Stan North ó
With much of the same drive and determination as her well-loved mom, Cynthia Philpotís testimony is at once inspiring and insightful. She explains how, with nearly no music industry experience, God allowed her to be used to issue a 2-CD retrospective of Danniebelle that serves to continue her ministry, and at the same time support a new foundation that supports others suffering from the same debilitating effects of diabetes that her mother went through. Itís a testimony of industry co-operation, love, and brotherhood in the body of Christ.
Cynthia Philpot explains in her own words:
My mother (Danniebelle Hall) was living with diabetes. Surviving a mastectomy due to breast cancer, left leg amputation below the knee, (two weeks from each other) and a host of other health related issues. She lived in an assisted living facility in Hayward California. She was the resident chaplain, and doing very well spiritually. This was around January of 2000.
Being on hemo-dialysis, she had treatments two or three times a week. My brother Charles and sister Charlotte along with other family members helped out with her needs. They reside in California, while I reside in South Carolina.
If youíre not familiar with Danniebelleís music, then this would be the perfect opportunity. Polished with soul when necessary and filled with praise that doesnít go out of style, the sounds on this set come through with the same beauty....|
Click on the image above for the full CD review.
I had been flopping around the idea to do a website for my mother. Working closely with the internet, I had run searches on Danniebelle, and did not come up with a lot of results. But I noticed that on some message boards people were asking what ever happened to Danniebelle.
So I checked to see if the domain Danniebelle.com was taken, and it was not. So I decided to build a website for my mom. I secured the domain, bought Learn Photoshop in 24 Hrs and set about the task of designing and building a website. The idea was to have a basic page with a few sections, but the meat and potatoes were weekly updates from my mom.
I launched the site in April 2000. Little did we know that we were documenting the last 6 months of her life on this earth. Often, I would read her the emails or posts from the message boards to over the phone. They were very encouraging and uplifting to her.
Around that same time, my mother asked that I contact EMI Music. She had made attempts to contact different record companies that may have had the masters to her music. She asked if I would take up the project. Various record companies owned the rights to her music-whether or not they even had the master copy was in question as well. However, EMI did have master copies to Let Me Have A Dream, and Live in Sweden [both issued by Sparrow in the late 70ís].
I spoke to a gentleman by the name of Ken Pennell [who heads up EMI Gospel] and I asked him if I could have a copy of the masters to re-issue. I wanted to sell it on the website, to generate funds for my mother. She was on disability, and I wanted to help supplement her income.
He said they heard of my mother's medical situation, and would do what they could to help. He sent me two copies of the masters.
Both of these albums were very special to me. Growing up, I remember that when my mom would write, everything in the house had to be quiet. When she wrote "Ordinary People" for the Let Me Have a Dream album, I recall my father Charles Hall saying, "Now that song is gonna be your biggest hit."
I recall work being done on the Live in Sweden album. I was 12 or 13 at the time. I remember loving the song "Best Thing that Happened to Me". My mom said that they rehearsed for hours trying to perfect the vocals. "I Go to the Rock" was a hit, and it was neat to have her music played on the radio. It is wonderful now to have it on CD, and listen to it as I go to work!
We then discovered that although EMI owned the license for the masters, but not the publishers or mechanical licenses. I would have to request the use of those licenses from each individual publisher. I could ask for use at gratis, as EMI had granted, but it would be up to the individual publishers to grant that favor. I had no idea on how to do this, nor did I have the money should they charge me.
Then my mother's health began to decline. She began to have a problem with the fistula clotting, which is the main artery in which dialysis is administered. Everything they tried failed and she seemed to be going back and forth to the hospital for this. This was about April or May of 2000.
My mom continued to write updates. You can read them all in the archives on Danniebelle.com. In the meantime, progress with the project had slowed down since the news of the status of publishersí licenses.
Around August 2000, my mom had to switch from hemo-dialysis to a different form of dialysis called CAPD. She was very nervous about the ability to do this herself, but faced this challenge, as she did every other one, with this strong willed faith and unbelievable strength.
All the albums, tons of lyrics, and words from Danniebelle herself are found on Danniebelle.com. It's one of those Gospel sites that you cries out for a bookmark.|
Click on the image above to access Danniebelle.com.
I believe that the hemo-dialysis kept her active. Getting out of the house two and three times a week was good for her. She was very independent, and would arrange for the Para-transit to pick her up, and take her to dialysis. I noticed a huge difference in her attitude once she was on CAPD.
Around October, an ulcer formed on her remaining leg. Doctors tried to assist the circulation, but another amputation seemed inevitable. My mom went into the hospital in November 2000. I was able to visit her on Thanksgiving. My brother, sister and I met at the hospital-and surprised her with my visit. I sat with her all day-and that was the last day that I saw my mother alive.
The operation was scheduled for December 26th to amputate the leg. I know that my mom was not up to rehabilitating like she was the previous time. The gangrene had taken its toll on her system. She did not make it to the operation. Her spirit was at peace, and she passed on the 28th of December, 2000.
I maintained updates on the website, as so many were concerned and praying for her. Many wanted to attend the funeral. In speaking with my brother Charles, we felt that something could be done to preserve my mothers legacy and ministry. At that instant, the idea of the diabetes foundation was born.
I received hundreds of emails and many people came to the website. It was very overwhelming at the time. Many offered condolences, many asked about her music. It seemed natural to continue with the project. I called EMI, and they stood by their offer to allow me to use the CDs.
Using my income tax return-along with the support of my husband Lance, I began the project. However, I was still at a major disadvantage, as the licensing process was very foreign to me.
But I received an email from a gentleman by the name of Tim Dillinger. He told me that he worked closely with Tata Vega, and asked about the possible release of Danniebelleís music. I replied and told him the progress, or lack thereof, that I had made. He offered to help me with the
requesting of the mechanical licenses.
Tim gives his own account of our meeting:
"When I came into the picture, Cynthia had already contacted EMI about using the original albums to re-issue and sell on the website. My background is in artist management and product development, so I offered to help in any way possible. Cynthia and I talked about a myriad of possibilities in Danniebelle's back catalog, and at one point we were going to issue these projects separately. Cynthia's drive and determination to carry on her mother's vision was undoubtedly the most important element behind this project."
"I consider it such an honor to have been a part of this project. Having grown up on these two albums (Live In Sweden and Let Me Have a Dream) in particular, it was an exciting opportunity to be involved in their first representation on CD. The finished product is an awesome display of the life and ministry of Danniebelle. They songs sound as fresh as they did when they first came out twenty years ago and their meaning has deepened not only through Danniebelle's experiences, but our own. Danniebelle had a knack for reaching the heart of people by writing and singing about things that we can all relate to: our dreams, our hopes, our insecurities, and our salvation. My prayer is that this project will remind people of the most important element of Gospel music: the message."
As Tim mentioned, we were originally going to release the projects separately. It was a conversation with Andrať Crouch one evening that changed our focus. He suggested the CD be released together as a double collectors item.
With the help of my very good friend Earl Kingsberry, redesigned the site to coincide with the album release, and I think it is beautiful. Then I received
an email from a lady by the name of Paullet Barnes. She helps companies build foundations. She grew up listening to my mom's music, and attended the funeral and asked if I needed help with the foundation, explaining that this was what she did for a living. So she and I set about the task of creating The Danniebelle Hall Diabetes Foundation. Proceeds from the sale of the CD go directly to the foundation.
Rev. James Moore
Rev. James Moore is another Gospel artist who passed away in 2000 as a result of the ravages of diabetes. Longsuffering but continuing to spread his inner joy through Gospel music, the Detroit master also lives long in the hearts of those who have his music.|
Click on the image above for the full CD review.
The Foundationís purpose is to create an organization that my mother could have benefited from. It focuses on an awareness of diabetes its early stages, especially in the church community. It helps those in need of financial assistance, Gospel artists as well, and it aids in diabetes research to help find a cure for this terrible disease that so many don't take seriously enough.
What's next for Danniebelle? Well, we intend to release her book. She asked that if she were unable to finish her book, that we finish it for her. My mother's ministry was based on a simple principle: winning souls for Jesus.
She had the ability to "touch you where you were" and she treated you like "Ordinary People"
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