Haley Richardson and Her 'Music for Mercy'

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Haley Richardson performing live Haley Richardson performing live

Pittsgrove 14-year-old fiddler has busy summer ahead.

Inspired by a newspaper clipping on the refrigerator door of a friend, Haley Richardson decided to do something special with her music.

Not that the 14-year-old, award-winning fiddle player from Pittsgrove Township, NJ, wasn't already turning heads (and ears). Winning multiple United States and international competitions — including the coveted 2015 Junior Fiddler of Dooney, and multiple All-Ireland World Championships — over the past eight years Richardson has performed at venues all over the U.S., Canada, Ireland, England, and Scotland and is a regular at the "Down Jersey" Celtic Celebration at Cumberland County College in Vineland, N.J., each March. 

Richardson, who also performs with her 18-year-old brother Dylan Richardson, was in Boston about two years ago, staying with friends during a trip for a gig in New England. During her stay, she spotted an article about a CD called Lullabies of Love produced by friend Lindsay O'Donovan. 

Following a visit to an orphanage in Africa, O'Donovan wanted to help. She invited a group of Irish musicians to record a lullaby, which she then sold, providing the proceeds to the African orphanage.

Haley was immediately inspired to do something similar, but with young musicians participating in the project.

Flash forward to 2017 and the release of the CD Music for Mercy, which was put out on March 10th.

After writing to a list of young musicians she met through her music from throughout North America and Ireland, 26 musicians (all under the age of 21 years old) agreed to donate a music track to Richardson's project. Richardson then found a sound engineer (Gabriel Donahue), a young graphic designer (Patrick Finley), and, after much thought and consideration, chose a cause for her own charity album.

Richardson says she wanted the project to appeal to young musicians from around the world and to know the money she raised would go toward children.

This factored into her choice of the Mercy Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

All proceeds of Music for Mercy will go directly to the Mercy Centre.

“It's funny, putting out a CD is a very personal thing,” Richardson tells SNJ Today. “I almost feel as if I've given birth to a ‘music baby’ and I'm now putting it out into the world and seeing how people react to it. It was a very involved process, definitely more work than I thought it would be, but I don't mind because it was completely worth it — to now be able to help other children in need.” 

Richardson had been invited to participate in an annual fundraising concert in New York City for the Mercy Centre for several years and was familiar with the charity organization. With a focus on helping the children and communities of the slums of Bangkok, Thailand, the Mercy Centre works with its neighbors to create "simple, progressive solutions that touch the lives of thousands of poor people every day," according to Richardson.

Not only does the Centre build and operate schools, improve family health and welfare, protect street children’s rights, respond to daily emergencies, and offer shelter to orphans and street children, it also strives to improve the lives of children and adults living with AIDS.

The Mercy Centre helps raise the children it assists in the same religious faith of their parents, while teaching them to respect every religion. The children are also educated and become part of the Mercy Centre family.

It was a very involved process, definitely more work than I thought it would be, but I don't mind because it was completely worth it — to now be able to help other children in need.

"The Mercy Centre is everything for people who have nothing," according to Richardson. 

Now, with the release of Music for Mercy, young Haley Richardson has not only made something out of nothing, selflessly working for the good of children on a different continent, but will likely inspire others to follow her path. 

“I'll be visiting Thailand this June to meet the children who live at the Mercy Centre,” says Richardson. “That's something I really can't wait to do. I'm very excited. I hope to do [a] CD release event in Vineland after I return so I can show videos and pictures of everything I experience while I'm there.” 
Richardson also has a “very busy summer planned,” packed with “music camps and festivals.” 

Richardson will be performing at the Millville Multicultural Festival on June 2, 2017 at the Levoy Theater, with her friend Keegan Loesel, a uilleann piper from Pennsylvania who contributed a track for Music for Mercy. Stay tuned for more details about her planned CD release event in Vineland.

To find out more about Haley Richardson visit haleyrichardsonmusic.com and to hear samples of Music for Mercy visit cdbaby.com.

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