When his dear friend George Hill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Michael Raskovsky didn’t know much about the condition. In time, he came to learn that although Parkinson’s impacted George’s mobility and communication skills, it did not take away his love of and ability to create music.
Michael, a long-time recording engineer, broadcaster, advertiser, and producer, says he wanted to find a way to help his good friend and to draw attention to Parkinson’s. Music was the answer with the intention of donating proceeds from the album’s sales to the Parkinson’s cause. With George and friends old and new, Michael and his team made an album called Hope for Christmas, which he says highlights “George Hill at his very best.”
Michael’s fondest memory of working with George was when he was in the studio, “clearly feeling the effects of Parkinson’s, but nevertheless stepping up to the mic. He sang the most beautiful version of ‘Away in a Manger’ and completely amazed the bluegrass musicians on set when he got to the last chorus and injected the refrain from ‘Sweet Child of Mine’.”
There was a great deal of spontaneity in the album’s creation, composition, and collaboration, and those who were involved in its creation were thrilled to see that people around the world were listening to it. “It made me feel a tiny bit like Santa,” Michael says.
For Michael, the most moving moment was when George and his son Geoffrey performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as a duet. “Not only was it the one and only time father and son teamed up on a song, but the track was played during George’s funeral service, a memory that still brings me to tears,” Michael says.
This holiday season, Michael and his friends are debuting a follow-up record, Hope for Christmas 2, that will benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation.
“The songs may be familiar, but the performances are stunning and indeed check off those elements that make my heart happy,” Michael says. “And it’s dedicated to the memory and spirit of George Hill.”
As part of the album’s rollout, Michael is partnering with the Davis Phinney Foundation. “It’s a great opportunity for us to connect, not only to the Parkinson’s community but also the cycling community with the goal of raising funds for Parkinson’s, spreading awareness, living a better life through mobility, and most of all, hope for Christmas,” Michael says.
Proceeds from the album’s sales will go toward the Davis Phinney Foundation’s mission of helping people with Parkinson’s live well today. To learn more and purchase the album, visit hopeforchristmas.net.
“Our goal is to provide a soundtrack for the holiday season. One of classic images and spirituality to another of family, romance, and hope.”