About: One of NPR Alt.Latino’s four 2018 picks for New Spring Music, Eleanor Dubinsky is “a multilingual musician who can capture the emotions and soul of a community in a song.” (NPR Weekend Edition). A vocalist, guitarist and cellist, Eleanor Dubinsky’s music lives at the tender edge where jazz, world and pop sensibilities meet emotionally forthright songwriting. Hailing from St. Louis, MO and based in NYC, her sound reflects and celebrates both her mid-western roots and the formative time she has spent in South America, Western and Central Europe, Portugal and Cape Verde. Singing in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, Eleanor and her multi-faceted band bring linguistic and cultural fluency to dynamic compositions that explore the fragile links between human emotions and responsibility. Eleanor has performed at globally recognized venues including Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, World Cafe Philadelphia, the Guggenheim Museum, The Kimmel Center, the Museum of Music in Lisbon and the Puerto Morelos Music Festival (MX). She has given concerts throughout the USA and in Senegal, Cape Verde, Uruguay, Czech Republic, France, Mexico and Costa Rica has released three albums to date: Touch The Sky (2011), Listen To The Music (2012) and Soft Spot of My Heart (2018. At the center of Eleanor’s artistic mission is using music as a means for empowerment and generating dialogue. She is currently one of six artists/artist groups participating in the 2020-21 Gibney Moving Towards Justice fellowship, a cohort designed to support high potential projects that use art as a tool for activism and social impact; with a focus on entrepreneurship, social engagement, and mobilization alongside artistry.
Frank Ponzio, jazz pianist and composer has performed with David Amram, Ben Vereen, Phil Donahue, Joe Beck, Nancy LaMott, Bob McGrath of Sesame Street and Aisha Morris (Stevie Wonder’s daughter) at Birdland, Carnegie Hall and Town Hall. He has enjoyed a fifteen year-long association with the Jacques d’Amboise’s National Dance Institute. He was their full-time music director for several years. For 3 years he was a vocal coach at Jim Lipton’s MFA program at the New School Actor’s Studio. Original film scores include The Silver Swing, directed by Martha Parker, the feature film A Level Field, Ken Haywood and Midnight to Midnight, Roberta Berman. CD releases include A Song About Forever with The Kurt Weill Project, When Harry Met the Duke, featuring the vocalist Rosemary Loar, Mostly Jobim, featuring the vocalist Annie Kozuch, Christmas Christmas with bassist, Mark Peterson and drummer Matt Kane and Danielia Cotton’s, The Mystery of Me. Recently Frank has co-written songs with Eleanor Dubinsky and performed on and co-produced her new CD, Soft Spot, recorded in Lisbon, Portugal. Contributions to videos and books include The Singing Book published by W.W. Norton & Company and Jazz Rhythms Master Class Advanced Instruction Video by Mike Longo. Frank is currently a member and pianist for the Gospel Church, Celebration Spiritual Center in Brooklyn, NY.
While driving from Venice to Orlando, Florida Sally Ponzio heard in her heart an unmistakable voice. It was the voice of her son Travis, who had tragically overdosed six months ago, after a long battle with addiction. She pulled over, reached for the napkin on the seat next to her, and started writing. Travis’s words of comfort and solace flowed as fast as she could write them.
“I can’t explain it,” says Sally, “but it was Travis’s voice, speaking in poetic verse. He was finally explaining to me how he had felt during his sickness, how he felt lost before he passed. He was telling me that he was okay now, that he was free…and that I needed to set myself free as well from the burden of worry.”
Fly high, fly free
Spread your wings
The words on those napkins would become the lyrics to “Remember Me” a collaboration between Sally, her jazz-pianist/composer brother Frank Ponzio, and singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Eleanor Dubinsky. Released on March 12, 2021, “Remember Me” with accompanying video, is at once a tribute to Travis and a dedicated offering to all who have lost loved ones too soon to the epidemic of addiction.
“Remember Me” puts a human face on addiction and offers a loving path forward – through music – for those grappling with the stigma and grief that so often accompanies this ubiquitous disease. Says the trio, “We offer the song as comfort and companionship to those affected by this tragedy. May Remember Me help you find healing and a ray of hope.”
Immediately after her seminal car ride, Sally stashed the napkins away in the pages of a small journal she kept in a drawer. Over the next few days, Travis’s voice persisted, “Give it to Frankie. Give it to Frankie.” And so, apprehensive but resolute, Sally sent Travis’s message to his uncle and her brother Frank Ponzio.
Says Sally: “I wasn’t sure if Frank would think I was crazy after I told him about my visitation, but Travis was clear that I needed to pass his message along to Frank because he was the one who could turn his words into a song.”
Blown away by Sally’s experience and moved by her request, Frank, in turn, invited his long-time friend and collaborator, singer/songwriter Eleanor Dubinsky into the process. The two songwriters have been writing together for years, having most recently teamed up on the 2018 release of Dubinsky’s acclaimed LP Soft Spot of My Heart. He knew that Eleanor had the character, sensitivity, and musical capacity to complete the trio that would shape Travis’s words into a fitting musical legacy.
Via conference calls, writing sessions, and musical drafts, Sally, Frank, and Eleanor were able to capture the spirit and message of that car ride and translate it into a “Remember Me” over the course of the next year.
“It was very important to us to ask ‘how do you do justice to somebody’s story?” reflects Dubinsky. “If Sally was giving us this incredible story with so much open-hearted vulnerability, our real goal had to be to do it justice. So we didn’t do too much inventing and never strayed very far from those napkins.”
The trio intentionally invited musicians to record “Remember Me” who they knew could honor the weight of the song and bring its message to life with their expertise. Once in the studio, they were surprised to discover that several band and choir members had been personally affected by the addiction epidemic. The collective connection to the mission of the song deepened everyone’s commitment to the process and further underscored the potential impact and resonance of “Remember Me”.
“By the time we got done,” said Frank, “perhaps with the helping hand of Travis, we somehow ended up with all the right people, all the right situations, all the right studios, and all the right talents contributing to the project. All the elements fell perfectly into place; the song had been writing itself, as the napkins can attest …and now it seemed to be recording itself too.”
“Remember Me” was recorded by Nolan Thies at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, NYC with Benhur Oliveira on drums, Michael O’Brien on acoustic and electric bass, and Tony Calabro on guitars. Backing vocals were provided by six extraordinary vocalists: Maggie Collier, Deadra Nelson-Mason, Leah Lakins, Mayra Casales, David Sosa, and David Anthony Diaz, all but Mayra who are members of contemporary gospel group Soul21, founded by Pastor Greg Stamper of Brooklyn’s Celebration Spiritual Center.
The track was mixed by Tony Calabro of Astoria Park Recording and mastered by multi-Grammy Award-winning engineer Alan Silverman at Aerial Sound, NYC.
“Remember Me” debuted live at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater in NYC on December 11, 2019. The trio released a slideshow video with the officially recorded track showcasing the musicians, Sally, and Travis on September 18, 2020, on what would have been Travis’s thirty-first birthday.
Sally, Frank, and Eleanor envision “Remember Me” as an anthem of hope and compassion that could be employed by like-minded organizations, foundations, policymakers, families, support groups, mental health practitioners, medical professionals, and patients to support their work combating addiction and eradicating this ongoing epidemic.
“It makes you realize,” says Dubinsky, “the more people you talk to, the more you find you know who have been through addiction or have family members who have been through addiction. It’s everywhere, and it resonates so strongly. This song really reminds you that people are going through things that you would never imagine. That’s what music can do. It taps us into that humanity.”
Thank You to these Supporters of “Remember Me”
Press for “Remember Me”
- Stay Thirsty Magazine, Eleanor Dubinsky: Listening & Remembering, August 2021
- NOPE of Hillsborough, Remember Me Is What This Mom Heard From Her Son That Lost His Battle With Addiction, March 10, 2021
- Journal of Gospel Music, JGM Pick of the Week: March 16, 2021
- Humanizing Addiction, Remember Me, 9/18/20
- Emily’s Hope Foundation, Episode 37 | “Remember Me:” The gift of a song to a grieving mom, 3/1/21
- Roadie Music’s New songs & New Artists, 4/1/21 Spotify playlist add
- Feeling U Feeling Me’s Beauty Inside, 4/2/21, Spotify playlist add
- Melodic – Acoustic | Folk | Singer-Songwriter, 4/2/21, Spotify Playlist add
- Barry McLoughlin’s Acoustic Mourning, 4/2/21 Spotify Playlist add
- SADOD.org (Support After a Death by Overdose), 5/3/21, Remember Me
- Paradigms, 5/2/21, Eleanor Dubinsky, Sally Ponzio, & Frank Ponzio – “Remember Me”
- Shatterproof.org, 5/9/21, Remember Me.