Rachael Sage, the passionate singer-songwriter and founder of indie label MPress Records, will host “Bravery on Fire: A Benefit for Women’s Cancer Awareness,” a live-streamed concert to raise money for the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. “One way or another, cancer has touched each of us,” says Sage, “so I’m grateful I can come together with my staff in this way and, hopefully, we can raise awareness as well as funds for the Foundation for Women’s Cancer.”
The virtual concert, which takes place Sept. 24 at 8 p.m., will feature Sage, Lisa Loeb, Paula Cole, Jill Sobule, Kyshona, Grace Pettis, Gaby Moreno, Fiona Harte, Grace Kelly, Heather Mae & Crys Matthews, Tony-nominated actors Megan Hilty and Alison Pill, ballet and Broadway dancer Abigail Simon (who will present “a special performance unique to this event,” Sage says) and others. The show will last for 70 to 90 minutes and will be free, though donations will be encouraged.
Sage, who describes herself as a “cancer thriver” since she is in remission from endometrial cancer (diagnosed in 2018), will host the concert as part of Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month and hopes not only to raise funds for the foundation, but also to bring attention to the impact of cancer on women, and the importance of prevention, early detection and research. “Every five minutes we lose a woman to gynecological cancer … Before my diagnosis, I was completely uninformed about how wide-reaching these cancers are, across all demographics worldwide,” she said in a press release.
Sage said people struggling with cancer have faced additional difficulties during the isolation of the pandemic. “It has been very challenging to keep up with my cancer follow-up and there have been times when it has been outright frustrating, how difficult it has been to do so. I was able to get my six-month MRI at a local diagnostic center two months after I normally would have, which was great. But then it took two and a half weeks longer than usual to receive the results, so that was a challenging situation that was also more stressful than usual, waiting for those results. But thankfully they were positive, so it was well worth the wait.
“I would say that as a whole, I have heard mostly positive feedback from within the cancer community that hospitals are doing a great job with COVID-19 safety, keeping everything sanitized and everyone wearing PPE, etc. But of course, anyone dealing with any type of health issue is going to be facing unusual challenges, and will need to be mindful of how difficult it is for hospital personnel as well.”
Sage’s latest album, Character, features songs that comfort and inspire those who are battling a chronic illness. She was inspired by her own journey from cancer diagnosis through recovery to release this album with songs that meditate on resilience, gratitude and forgiveness.
The Character song “Bravery on Fire” resonates during the pandemic when we have all had to bravely face uncertain futures. In a prior interview, Sage discussed the anxiety and stress of life during the pandemic and the potential, as with other chronic illness, to come out with a new perspective.
“Even in the context of suffering, we have opportunities to find renewed purpose and distill who we truly want to be,” she said. “My prayer right now happens to be embedded in this music, and it is a message of hope derived from the fact that every single one of us has the ability to be a ‘light’ and to make choices that improve the stage of our own well-being, our family, our friends, and therefore the wider world.”
Proceeds from the “Bravery on Fire” song will go to cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. (Sage also has been raising money for a variety of other nonprofit organizations via her monthly virtual shows, “Stay In With Sage.”)
Sage said establishing her own label, MPress, enabled her “to have creative autonomy over my work.”
MPress — “by sheer accident,” Sage said — has had an all-female staff for a number of years and “recently signed wonderful singer-songwriter Grace Pettis, who is one of the hardest working women I’ve ever met. We also have several staff members at MPress who are openly LGBTQ+, and there is a sense of inclusiveness, openness and respect. As a team, our collective goal is to put positive energy and creativity out into the world.”
You also can hear Sage when she joins other artists, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m., for a livestream benefit concert to raise funds for historic New York nightclub, The Bitter End. There is more information on the event’s Facebook page.
For more information about Sage or to purchase Character, visit rachaelsage.com.
CONTRIBUTE TO NJARTS.NET
Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence, though, depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of $10, or any other amount, to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJ Arts Daily to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.