Though this is the second Christmas without him, and there’s still a stocking hanging on the Maurer’s mantel that says “Dad.”
Whitehouse native Cliff Maurer, 15, will perform at the House of Blues in Dallas on Sunday as part of the Texas Music Project’s Snowball Express Talent Showcase. The show features young adults who are the children of fallen military soldiers.
“Dad was my No. 1 fan, my biggest supporter,” said Cliff, who’s been playing for three years. “I kept playing because I knew he would want me to.”
Cliff’s father encouraged him to put up YouTube videos of himself playing. Cliff put up the first one a month after his father was killed.
More than 1,200 children of fallen military soldiers will be in attendance with a surviving parent. The concert is part of a week of activities for the families, such as the “Walk of Gratitude,” where the public is invited to come and show their support to the families.
“That got me emotional last year,” said Amber, Cliff’s mother.
More than 40 student performers will take the stage this year. The talents performed will include vocal, instrumental, dance and poetry.
“A lot of people look forward to Snowball every year,” Cliff said. “It’s a week where you can relate. For a week, you’re normal.”
The number of participants has doubled from the original event last year.
“The performances are private in nature and done in front of their peers and support groups,” said Michael Clay, executive director at the Texas Music Project in the written release. “It is very powerful to watch the healing power of music when 1,800 people stand for an ovation for each child. You see the transformation and delight of each child happen instantly. Music is healing. We see it in the faces of these kids, and we are happy to bring them joy as they cope with the grief of losing a parent.”
The student performers are receiving guidance from Clay, a professional musician, producer, and published songwriter, and other Texas Music Project board members. The performers will receive individualized lessons from world-class vocal coach Linda Septien and her Septien School of Contemporary Music team. Those who opt out of the spotlight on stage will be involved behind-the-scenes in stage production, audio, lighting, or video technology.
Cliff said he doesn’t usually write songs, but thinks it’s important to learn. He hopes to pursue music as a career.
“Texas Music Project's Talent Showcase has become an intrinsic part of our Snowball Express event,” said Buck Kern, executive director of Snowball Express in the written release. “It is powerful to watch these children perform for their peers, who share their same pain of losing a parent. Through music and talent, these kids are showing their peers they are not alone."
The finale of this year’s Showcase will feature a performance of “God Bless Snowball Express,” an original song written and composed based on a poem by Caehlen Roberts, that she read at last year’s Showcase.
For more on Linda Septien, visit http://www.theseptiengroup.com/LindaSeptien.aspx