A statement from Chris on “Forgiveness & Exile”

The Marjorie Kovler Center is a facility in Chicago, Illinois which provides counseling, therapy, aid, housing, and resources to help refugees and victims of torture who have come to the USA.

I first learned about the Marjorie Kovler Center about 10 years ago from a doctor I was seeing at that time. She was an amazing woman, whose name unfortunately escapes me. In addition to being a doctor and the mother of two children, she found time in an incredibly busy schedule to avail herself to the Kovler Center to give her services free of charge.

I was profoundly touched by her, and who wouldn’t be? She told me about the Center, about the refugees that came, who were traumatized in ways that I cannot begin to imagine, having, luckily, no frame of reference except the media for the kinds of inhuman atrocities these people have suffered. She spoke frankly about what had happened to people, and how they found themselves in a new country, often without any language skills and penniless, as well as suffering physically and mentally from their ordeals. Needless to say, it shook and chilled me to the core, and I wanted to help, but at that time did not feel that I had anything constructive to offer.

It was not until the spring of 2007 that I realized I might be able to do something. I had started writing for a new album, and what I was writing was heavily informed by what I had been listening to on the BBC world service, and also by things I had been reading. Slowly, over about eight months, I finished what was essentially a long poem, “Forgiveness & Exile”, which, without trying to explain too much is my own impressionistic view of countries and peoples torn to pieces by war, of prejudices and intolerances, of families destroyed, murder, imprisonment and torture. At the end of the writing process, and during the recording process, I realized that I had said what I set out to say, but was unable to justify my luxury of using language and music to talk about something I felt strongly about, but certainly knew very little of, and was lucky enough to never have experienced such brutal inhumanities. It was at that time that I remembered my conversations with the doctor, and of the Kovler Center, and realized that now at last was my opportunity to do something tangible, and in this respect I am donating all the money I make from sales and royalties of this album to the Kovler Center. Perhaps I can make someone’s transition a little easier and their quality of life a little better.

Chris Connelly
June 2008