Atlanta philanthropist Josh Rifkind is more ramped-up than ever over the return of 500 Songs For Kids, the charity event that kicks off at Smith's Olde Bar Thursday, May 1, and runs through Saturday, May 10.
Last year Rifkind, who spearheads the nonprofit Songs for Kids Foundation, wrangled 500 different local and national bands and artists to perform a song from Rolling Stone magazine's list of "Top 500 Songs of All Time." Spread out over 10 days, acts that participated included the Whigs, Janelle Monae, Edwin McCain and Pete Yorn – all of whom donated door sales to the Songs For Kids Foundation.
Each year the foundation sends musicians to children's hospitals and 20 special needs camps all over the state. The money from 500 Songs for Kids plays a big part in funding its activities.
The aim remains the same this year, but the songs are different. Rifkind, along with his partners in the foundation, Sanjay Kothari, Kendra Gurkin and Justin Kerenyi, embarked on the difficult task of composing a list of the top 500 "sing-along" songs of all time. "We reviewed every popular song in history, from heavy metal to show tunes," Rifkind says.
There's an undeniable giddiness in his voice as he jumps around the list rattling off songs they picked and the artists who will perform them.
The itinerary of this year's song marathon includes the Coathangers, performing Britney Spears' song "... Baby One More Time" (song No. 71 from the list). Sean Faylon will perform Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance" (song No. 475). Cracker will perform its own song "Low" (No. 138). Mason Jennings will perform Asia's "Heat of the Moment" (No. 268) and Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan will perform Skid Row's "I Remember You" (No. 300).
"Composing the list was excruciating but fun," Rifkind adds. "The great thing about the list of songs is that we took it so seriously. It isn't just some thrown-together list. We labored over this tirelessly."
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