South Philadelphia housebound singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Madalean Gauze was, like everyone else in the arts world, home, waiting for live clubs and studios to reopen so to best ply her craft. She had some studio time booked for an album that she’s really excited about (‘It will come out once things are somewhat “normal,” she said), but, for now, Gauze had extra energy to give to a cause close to her heart – compiling two back-to-back albums of new songs and rough demos from local artists to benefit essential workers, “Fuel the Fight 1″ and “Fuel the Fight 2.”
“Being stuck inside and watching the news, my heart broke for all of the essential workers,” said Gauze. “I felt like an idiot ordering take out and having warm meals knowing that essential workers were eating out of vending machines. I couldn’t believe people were risking their lives and didn’t have a warm meal to eat.”
“This was my first attempt at organizing something like this, I had no experience with it in the past,” said Gauze of gathering up 98 songs for two separate packages (Volume 1 was released at the beginning of May, Volume 2 comes out today, June 5), of old and new songs or music demoed from Philly’s finest while in quarantine. It was pretty easy getting so many artists to be a part of it. Everyone is stuck at home and everyone wanted to help.”
Some of the musicians who were first in to “The Fight” were Eric Slick (Dr. Dog), CatBite and Coping Skills. “I think it just shows how cool the music scene is, and that it really doesn’t matter what genre it is, people just want to help,” said Gauze of the relative ease of getting so many locals to participate for a great cause. “We are all stuck at home and we all want this to be over. I loved all the demos on this, I think it is great that we get to take a peek into the creative process. It is also special to hear the songs musicians are writing during quarantine.”
Gauze decided to partner with local restaurants to provide meals to healthcare workers at area hospitals, and created a specific fundraising entity to do so. “The money from the compilation albums go directly to the Philadelphia charity Fuel the Fight 2020 – this charity is a partner with Frontline Foods. It is great that they team up with local restaurants because local businesses are suffering so much during this time. Our album helped the restaurant Baology located at 18th Street and JFK Boulevard and we helped feed tons of essential SEPTA workers.” A list of other restaurants that the charity Fuel the Fight 2020 has supported includes Timothy’s Riverfront Grill, Top Tomato Bar & Pizza, The Goats Beard, Spread Bagelry and Joe’s Steaks.
The first volume of “Fuel the Fight” came together rapidly and left its curator-organizer bushed. “I put it together in 5 days,” she said, without imagining there would be a second volume. “But, I received an email from Rob Grote of the Districts and he asked if he could be on the second one. Receiving that email was the reason I decided to get everyone together for a second one. I didn’t have any other musicians lined up, so I just jumped in and started searching for more musicians. I ended up getting 41 musicians on this second album.”
For round 2, Gauze has decided to donate half of the money to the charity Fuel The Fight 2020 and the other half to Philadelphia Bail Fund. “I decided to add the Philly Bail Fund because I need to step up and help my city in any way I can. Philly Bail Fund is a wonderful organization because it fights to end cash bail and it helps individuals post bail. If anyone wants to donate these are great organizations to check out: Black Lives Matter Philly, Youth Art Self-Empowerment Project, Pennsylvania Prison Society, Amistad Law Project and New Sanctuary Movement.”
While she hopes to combine the two “Fuel the Fight” packages into one awesome show when things are safer (“I don’t think I would do a virtual show, but I would love to do a festival to help support local venues”), Gauze is focused on the local compilation’s real role. “I think it is important to always look out for one another. When things feel overwhelming, helping people is such a great form of therapy. I just feel so much better when I help out.”