Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Denny Randell and Biddy Schippers hope they’ve struck a patriotic chord with the launch of the GI Jams Web site.
The Las Vegas couple created the site (gijams.com) to showcase the musical talents of active duty and retired servicemen and veterans from all branches of the military. The site is free, and visitors don’t have to have ties to the military.
Randell and Schippers, a married couple who have been in the music business for many years, wanted to show their support for the troops.
“We want to show that appreciation the only way we know‚ through music,” says Randell, who co-wrote the classic “Working My Way Back To You” for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
As a young girl Schippers listened to her father’s stories of World War II.
“I have just always been aware of the people in the military who didn’t go and pursue their dreams like the rest of us but took time off to defend the country. They put their lives on hold for us,” she says.
In visiting with people in the military, Schippers says she found that for many of them, music is a way of “decompressing some deep tensions they have. We started to realize that music plays such an important part in their lives, has special meaning to them.”
The site is more than a way for artists to express themselves, Randell says, and could be a springboard for future success. “We’re looking to boost these people professionally when there is potential,” he says.
Schippers says military personnel who participate don’t need a professional production.
“They can just record themselves on their cell phones and upload, if they like,” she says. “This is just to show their basic talent and maybe help some of them to go all the way in entertainment.”
The Web site, launched last week, will evolve.
“As with all Web sites it will always be changing, and we’re going to continue to build, to add to it things like bulletin boards so military people can talk to each other,” Randell says.
Trish Williamson is the director of operations for GI Jams. She was director of media and public relations for USO World Headquarters and has written for the military magazines Naval Affair and On Watch.