It all began when I wanted to create a tribute album to my favorite artist, Mark Linkous of the band Sparklehorse, who, after a lifelong battle with depression, tragically died by suicide in 2010. I enlisted my husband, producer Ted Richardson, to help me get it started, and we decided that we would use any profits received from sale of the album to help others who struggle with their mental well-being. Word got out about the project, and we were contacted by Geoff Botak, CEO of Friends Hospital (the first and oldest operating mental health facility in the U.S.) and Joe Pyle, President of the Scattergood Foundation, who told us to "go big" because what we do "needs to be the Farm Aid or Live 8 for mental health". When we realized using music to start a new dialog about mental health could have a far-reaching and positive impact, Box of Stars was born.
The time to get this conversation started is now, and this tribute is where we will begin.
It just so happened that producers Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Mercury Rev) and Marc Fuller (Edie Road Studio) were working on a Mark Linkous tribute of their own, but were unsure of how they wanted to release it and where the proceeds would go. After discussing our two projects, they decided to hand the tracks they had completed over to us to use. We decided to continue on with our album that we had just begun to create, and the resulting double album of incredible music, Last Box of Sparklers - A Tribute to Mark Linkous, is now almost three quarters complete.
It has been a dream to be able to work with the artists who are contributing to this album (see the full list below), and the amount of support and encouragement they have offered has been very motivating. Some contributors knew Mark personally, others just admire his writing, but all of them understand that we are at the beginning of something really important, something that can improve and even save lives.
Several of the artists involved will also be participating in our PSA campaign to combat the stigma of mental illness and initiate the conversation. Our website and YouTube channel will serve as a repository of stories from musicians in the public eye, discussing mental health challenges they have dealt with themselves or in their personal or professional lives. (A big thanks to Eric Slick of Dr. Dog for being the first!) In this way, we can create a community where, through relating to other's experiences, those who once found shame in their struggle can find strength and encouragement to get the help they need.
This project and this cause is very dear to my heart, and with your help I know that we can make powerful music and an important difference in people’s lives.
- Jessica Richardson, co-founder, Box of Stars
Last Box of Sparklers
What We Need & What You Get
Our goal is to raise $50,000 to:
- Complete the album. While a good chunk of the recording is completed, there are some key artists who have yet to do so. Some of what has already been recorded still needs to be mixed, and the entire collection will be mastered by David Fridmann.
- Press the CDs and vinyl and design/create the packaging. This constitutes a good chunk of the cost of completion. We will press as many albums as demand requires.
- Promote the album's message through international media.
- Create some of the the perks we are offering.
- Build our archive of personal stories about mental health for the Box of Stars website and YouTube channel. We are very fortunate to have artists interested in telling their own stories, but in order to share them effectively we need to get them on video with the proper lighting and sound.
We are a 501c3 non-profit, and any amount we raise above our goal will go towards funding our PSA campaign to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, and to help us develop our youth engagement pilot program in conjunction with our friends at mindingyourmind.org which we plan to launch nationwide in 2014. To learn more visit boxofstars.org.
1 in 4 of us struggle with our mental health. In the United states, more than 50% of adults who report having mental illness never seek treatment. 20% of those with mental illness also meet the criteria for substance dependence or abuse.
Reasons why those who need help don’t find it: the stigma of mental disease, lack of access to care and the financial barriers imposed by our healthcare system.
We’d like to help change this. Box of Stars is a non-profit organization with the mission of raising mental health awareness through music. So many of the musicians that we admire and are inspired by have struggled with their own mental health. To name but a few: Mark Linkous, Curt Cobain, Ian Curtis, Elliott Smith, Daniel Johnston, Michael Hutchence, George Gershwin, and Brian Wilson. By shining a light on the stories and music of musicians we admire, and whose lives and work have been effected by struggles with mental health, we hope to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, increase awareness, promote recovery and save lives.
We need to educate and reduce stigma at a young age in order to effectively create real change. Box of Stars is also partnering with Minding Your Mind (www.mindingyourmind.org), an organization that visits over 250 schools yearly to educate young adults about mental health. We are developing an application that marries music and mental health to give young adults (high school through college) a way to stay involved in the conversation.
About Mark Linkous
Born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1962, Mark Linkous suffered from depression since childhood. That’s not to say that he wasn’t capable of joy, but there was a deep rooted sadness that lingered and intermittently overwhelmed his ability to feel happiness. Working under the name Sparklehorse, he released five albums between 1995 and 2010. In 1996 while on tour with Radiohead, he suffered the effects of a very negative interaction of prescribed medications and alcohol, which, due to complications, left him with severe damage to his legs. He suffered chronic pain for years afterward, and while he had increasingly severe bouts of depression he went on to produce several more albums which were released to critical acclaim, along with producing projects for other musicians. His career was spent mostly on the fringes of popular recognition, but Linkous was renown in the music world and worked with many artists of notoriety including Thom Yorke, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits, Nina Persson, Danger Mouse and The Flaming Lips. After a lifetime of battling his demons and painting dreamlike, haunting pictures of his inner world through his emotionally complex and beautiful music, Mark Linkous died by suicide in 2010.
A Special Thanks
There are so many people who have been indispensable in getting this project off the ground. The idea for this tribute originated in two places, independent of each other, before it became what it is today. We need to give our sincere thanks and gratitude to Marc Fuller and Dave Fridmann for initiating and fully traversing the journey of creating the first half of the album. A special note here: naming the tribute Last Box of Sparklers was Marc's idea.
None of this would be possible if it weren't for the artists who have given their time and talents to this project. Their interpretations of Mark Linkous' songs are all thoughtful gems, and so are they. We really can't wait to share them all with the world. Their support and kindness has meant so much and helped immensely.
Another thanks to those who have helped (and will help) us offer some great perks for your contribution: Cowboy Junkies, Mark Lanegan, über helper Daniel de Jesús, and wonderful Michael Motorcycle.
Thanks to Furnace MFG for helping us sort out our vinyl and CD pressings, and for giving us 10 test pressings to offer as perks! They are a great bunch of people, please check them out!
We would like to thank our Board Members: Geoff Botak, Joe Pyle, Joe Nicolo, and John Katrina. We would also like to thank our Executive Director, Hector Gomez and Board of Advisors, Martha McGeary Snider and Artie Kornfeld, as well as Amy Erlbaum and our friends at Minding Your Mind.
Of course, we give the ultimate thanks, now and forever, to Mark Linkous for his wondrous and beautiful music.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you can't contribute monetarily, you can still help us by:
- Asking folks to get the word out. Make some noise about our campaign!
- Please share this campaign Facebook, Twitter etc. and with your friends and family. Together we can make music and make a difference .
What sizes are available for the t-shirt and hoodie?
Standard sizes of S-XL will be available for both. We will email you to ask you what size you would like before we ship them out.
How do I pay for international shipping?
After you click "Contribute Now" , select your package and then increase the contribution amount in the field above to include the shipping.
I forgot to pay for the international shipping. What do I do?
Click "Contribute Now" again and make a contribution for the shipping cost, making sure that this contribution is under the same email address as the first.