She never met Cannon, she says, but "loved his philosophies. Some people thought he was offbeat, and I thought he was brilliant."
About a month after Cannon died, Dean was walking down the street. Inspiration seized her and she rushed back to her house in Varina. She says her husband left her to her thoughts, and in 20 minutes she had penned a song. There once was a man who lived a life of giving / Although his only fortune was a heart made of gold / He was known for his gifts, though he made a modest living / A poor man's philanthropist and an unselfish soul.
Dean then sang the ballad in her home studio, added harmony and a chipper beat, and "Help Somebody" was done. She sent the first copy to Cannon's son. He liked the song, she says, but wouldn't agree to her plan to establish a Thomas Cannon Foundation with the proceeds from selling the CDs. "No, my father would not like that," Dean says he told her.
So she just gave out a few copies to friends. One of them, retired car dealer Dick Strauss, told City Councilwoman Kathy Graziano (his office-building neighbor) about it, and she said she'd play it at council's first September meeting. Jimmy Barrett of WRVA 1140-AM recently broadcast the song's refrain as part of a plea for Katrina donations: We should help somebody / Show others we care / Reach out with a helping hand / This world's a better place / Whenever we share / We should help somebody if we can.
Dean, who has previously sought to publicize her version of a Virginia state song, is pleased with all the attention. But "the bottom line is the message," she says. She's now selling the CDs for $5 each, half of which will be donated to Katrina survivors. To order one, call Jimmy Dean Enterprises, (804) 795-4133. Melissa Scott Sinclair
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