Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Meet 2012 H'Art & Soul of Haiti Honorees!

Presenting Dr. Bill and Cindy Swartz

Each year the Friends of HAS Haiti honors an individual or individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to our cause in the United States and in Haiti. This year we are thrilled to salute Pittsburghers and long-time friends of the Friends, Dr. Bill and Cindy Swartz. 

Bill and Cindy Swartz became Pittsburghers in 1979. The same year that Pittsburgh became known as The City of Champions, Bill joined the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine as a young plastic surgical faculty member. They raised two daughters, Barbara and Katy who graduated from Shadyside Academy and Ellis School, respectfully. Over the past 33 years, they have been involved in the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association, the Frick Historical and Art Museum as a trustee and the Pittsburgh Opera Association Board.

Through Bill's hospital activities, both Cindy and Bill became aware of Ian & Lucy Rawson's involvement with HAS and supported the hospital financially. After the 2010 earthquake, however, Bill made his first trip and saw first-hand the incredible need for surgical support, both in personnel and supplies. Over the past three years, he has brought teams of surgeons, anesthesiologists, and operating assistants to Haiti. Twice a year they perform 50 or more surgeries, addressing a wide variety of plastic, orthopedic, and general surgical problems. To facilitate this effort, an organization of physicians was formed: the Physician Friends of HAS, which, while still in the formative stage, promises to expand the medical and surgical support of HAS physicians. To that end, one of the young Haitian surgeons will spend six weeks in Pittsburgh observing a wide variety of surgical cases and bring that increased knowledge back to HAS.

The Tom Tom Club is Coming!

H'Art & Soul of Haiti is one of the major fundraisers of our year, but it is also our way of both sharing and celebrating all that we do with our community of friends. This year, we are thrilled to welcome back the Tom Tom Club, who have been long-time friends of the Friends, and to HAS Haiti. 

About the Tom Tom Club

Last year was a celebratory year for The Tom Tom Club - it marked their 30th year as a band.  Conceived during downtime from Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s other band, Talking Heads, the group celebrates their anniversary by playing shows around the world, reinforcing why their funky musical style has been a staple of the dance music world since the early eighties. 

The Tom Tom Club was formed by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth in 1981. Graduates from the Rhode Island School of Design, they moved to New York City where they founded the Talking Heads as a trio with David Byrne in 1975. Chris played drums, Tina played bass and David sang and played guitar. In early 1981, the Talking Heads took a hiatus after five years of touring internationally and four studio albums. Chris and Tina began the Tom Tom Club and signed with Chris Blackwell and Island Records.

When legendary reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry failed to show up for the scheduled recording sessions in the Bahamas, Blackwell allowed Chris and Tina to produce the album themselves with Jamaican engineer Steven Stanley. The Tom Tom Club's first single was “Wordy Rappinghood,” an unusually original mix of schoolyard rap over a funky groove that went into the top of the charts in 17 countries. “Wordy Rappinghood” turned out to be seminal in bringing mainstream attention to the new spirit of hip-hop.

The group’s second single was the remarkable “Genius of Love.” Released in the UK before North America, the track became a huge hit, going to #1 on the charts and inspiring dozens of unsolicited remixes and versions--most notably, Grandmaster Flash’s "It's Nasty/Genius of Love" in 1982—a massive hit in the clubs and on the R&B and dance charts, soon earning the Tom Tom Club debut a Gold sales award. In 1995, Mariah Carey hit  #1 with “Fantasy,” her version of “Genius of Love” featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard rapping over the original instrumental track. “Genius of Love” continues to be frequently sampled by various artists, from Tupac Shakur to most recently, T.I. feat. Fergie and will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.

Tina and Chris were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and have continued to play and tour the Tom Tom Club ever since.  In 2010, Nacional Records released a new, live double-album that featured select tracks from classic album ‘Live At The Club House’ as well as a Latin alternative remix tribute to the smash hit, “Genius Of Love” by such artists as Ozomatli and Money Mark.