From The Boston Globe
November 15, 2002

A Life of Words Will Be Remembered Through Music
By Joan Anderman, Globe Staff

 

Daniel Pearl loved music. For him it was a form of communication as powerful as the written word, Pearl’s other passion. He played fiddle and mandolin, joined bands in whatever city his career as a journalist took him to, and often treated his co-workers to impromptu recitals. Pearl gave violin lessons to needy children. He never traveled without an instrument slung over his shoulder.

 

Tomorrow night Club Passim presents a night of acoustic music to honor the life of Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was killed by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in February, and to benefit the Daniel Pearl Foundation. Established just a few weeks after his death, the foundation is dedicated to continuing Pearl’s mission of bridging the divide between Western and Islamic cultures in the grass-roots spirit that shaped both his work and his character, say his sisters Tamara and Michelle Pearl.

 

”We didn’t want to have Danny’s life end on a sad note,” says Tamara, who is a vice president, along with her sister, of the foundation. ”We wanted to continue his legacy in a positive way.”

 

Adds Michelle, during a conference call: ”When people hear what we’re doing, there’s this sense of surprise that we’re even able to do it, that this is how we’ve responded. But this is a way of counterbalancing the tragedy with something good. I think Danny would be proud.”

 

While Daniel’s death is a wound that will never fully heal, the Pearl family is hoping to help heal a wounded world by transforming their loss into a vehicle for cross-cultural understanding. On Oct. 10, what would have been Pearl’s 39th birthday, 100 tribute concerts were held in 20 countries – among them a performance by an Arab-Jewish youth orchestra in Tel Aviv and a Pakistani fusion band in San Francisco.

 

Other planned events include conferences bringing together journalists, academics, and religious leaders from the West and the Middle East, as well as a ”hate reduction” project (conceived by Tamara and Michelle) that would allow a Pakistani or Palestinian student to retrace their brother’s academic and journalistic career steps.

 

Tomorrow’s concert, ”Universal Language: A Musical Tribute to Daniel Pearl,” will feature Pearl’s most beloved styles of music: bluegrass, folk, and classical. Hosted by Christopher Lydon, it will include performances by, among others, Mark O’Connor, Liz Carroll, Matt Haimovitz, Mark Simos, Matt Glazer, and the Wayfaring Strangers.

 

Todd Mack was Pearl’s close friend and bandmate in the Cosmic Gypsies, a folk-rock jam band that will perform as Cosmic Jack at the tribute. Mack has spent the last few weeks reconstructing Pearl’s fiddle and mandolin recordings, and when he and Dave Keehn play tomorrow night, they’ll be accompanied on three songs by Pearl, on tape.

 

A fourth song, ”Beautiful Angel,” was composed after Daniel’s death.

 

”It’s sort of my take on all of this,” says Mack, a producer, radio host, and owner of Off the Beat-N-Track recording studios in Southfield. ”It’s hard enough when you lose a friend, period. That’s compounded by the way Danny was taken, and further compounded when a friend you shared a very private relationship with has suddenly become a larger-than-life public figure. The bottom line is that I miss my friend.”

 

Bryan Gruley, an editor and reporter at The Wall Street Journal and an amateur musician, will perform ”For a Son,” a song he wrote for Daniel and Mariane Pearl’s son, Adam, who was born in May. The lyrics – uplifting and full of hope – imagine what Pearl might have said to his child. When CNN anchor Aaron Brown played ”For a Son” during ”NewsNight ” on the day of Adam’s birth, the station received nearly a thousand calls. The recording is now available at www.danielpearl.org, with all proceeds benefiting the foundation.

 

Gruley’s other selection for the tribute concert is inspired, as well: a slow, unplugged version of the Nick Lowe tune (made famous by Elvis Costello) ”(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.” It’s hard to imagine a more apt message.

 

”His own music was filled with humor,” says Michelle. ”If Danny was jamming, he would throw in a lick from `The Flintstones’ theme. He used to wake me up in the morning by bursting into my room singing `Good Morning’ from `Singin’ in the Rain.”’

 

Doing the foundation’s work, and finding in themselves the voice of passion their brother brought to his music and his writing, has helped ease the grief for both of Pearl’s sisters.

 

”We’ve had a lot of energy to throw into this, and that comes from our love of Danny and missing him,” says Michelle.

 

”We would be thinking of Danny anyway,” Tamara says. ”This is a way of perpetuating our love.”