Providence’s Album Hits the Charts

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


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375 years in the making: Providence... the album

While most Rhode Islanders passively celebrated (or blissfully ignored) the 375th birthday of its capital city, members of the Rhode Island Songwriters Association chose to create a wide-ranging album celebrating Providence’s distinctiveness and rich history.

Founded in 1993, RISA (pronounced RISE-A), began as a small group of RI songwriters sharing material and common experiences, but soon grew into a full-fledged songwriting community of 127 individuals from RI and Southeastern New England.

With a mission of building "a songwriting and original music community that gets people involved and noticed,” according to John Fuzek, RISA Co-Chairman and founding member, RISA harnessed its best songwriters this past year for Singing About Providence: A Collection of Songs and Poems Celebrating 375 Years of Providence, RI, a 19-song collection commemorating one of America’s oldest cities.

What makes Providence Providence

“The Singing About Providence project was to celebrate 375 years of Providence by writing songs about the history of Providence and what makes Providence Providence,” said Fuzek. Joining Fuzek in that dauntingly defined task:  Tracie Potochnik, Buddy Cavaleri, WS Monroe, Billy Mitchell, Jim Tata, Heather Rose, Ed McGuirl and poet Indigo K. Bethea.

Despite undertaking a subject nearly four centuries in the making, Fuzek did not alter his typical songwriting approach. “I write from simple inspiration or a line. I plant it in my head and let it germinate," said Fuzek. "Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes not at all. Once it starts to get going in my head I let it loose into the world and starting playing with words and chords and develop it into a song.”

The role of research

Not that it all came easily. For Fuzek, some investigation was not only necessary, but illuminating. Originating from an old newspaper article about a root growing at Roger Williams' grave-site, Fuzek ended up transforming the tale of “Roger Williams' Root” into "The Root That Ate Roger," a song that appears on the album. All it took was “doing more research about the subject than one would do for a college term paper,” Fuzek said.

Collectively, Singing About Providence’s 19 songs covers everything exclusively Providence: Roger Williams; Anne Hutchinson; John and Moses Brown; the Shepard’s Clock; and even the Big Blue Bug.

Fuzek hopes that Rhode Islanders get both a taste of history and a sense of enjoyment from the CD. Most importantly, Fuzek wants listeners to earn “an appreciation for Providence and an appreciation for the multitude of very talented singer-songwriters that are right here in RI.”

Singing About Providence is currently available at Ethnic Concepts North on 335 Wickeden St. Providence, RI and The Mill on 711 Putnam Pike Greenville, RI. For mail order info go here.

Be on the look out for RISA members performing on the first and third Saturday of each month at the Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House on 209 Douglas Avenue Providence, RI from 8:30 p.m to 10:30 p.m. And see John as part of his Neil Young tribute band Forever Young on Thursday, December 8th from 7-9 p.m. at Indigo Pizza in Coventry. For more information visit


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