Born and raised in New York City, Hank Fellows from an early age found the words and music for his songs in the excitement of the City that he loved so well. His highly acclaimed musical revues "An Open Stage", "Crosstown Rhythms", and "Late City Express" were performed at Lincoln Center and at leading New York City cabarets. These musical revues captured the exuberance and raw energy of Hank's beloved New York City. These musical revues also brought Hank professional recognition in the form of four Popular Music Awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Hank also received a Special Achievement Award from the Unisong International Song Contest. But national recognition as a songwriter remained elusive.
As the years passed, Hank's dream of hearing his songs performed across America started to fade. "I had given it my best shot," says Hank, "but I guess I wasn't destined to be the next Irving Berlin."
Then came September 11, 2001. Hank was living in Guttenberg, NJ, across the Hudson River and north of Ground Zero. Hank was an eyewitness to the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center. In the hours, days and months following the attacks, Hank watched the black smoke rising from the ruins of the Twin Towers as he walked the streets of NYC everyday. Searching for a way to express his sorrow for his battered City, Hank turned back to songwriting. In the dark days following 9-11, Hank wrote "The Spirit of America", a love song to his grief-stricken country. His song "Halfway to Heaven" followed soon after, as Hank tried to comprehend the terrible loss of innocent lives on that fateful September day.
"Halfway to Heaven" was first performed at the Bronx County Courthouse on September 11, 2003, at a memorial service honoring the 143 residents of Bronx, New York who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11/01. "After the performance," says Hank, "9/11 family members came over to me. We all hugged and cried together." Hank handed out CD copies of his two 9/11 songs, "The Spirit of America" and "Halfway to Heaven". Word spread among the 9/11 families about Hank's songs. Hank distributed hundreds of free CD copies of his 9-11 songs through such 9-11 family support organizations as Families of September 11th, September's Mission, and the Cantor Fitzgerald Memorial Fund (on behalf of the brokerage firm that lost 658 employees in the North Tower). Hank also created a website, www.9-11Songs.com, and soon schools, churches and civic organizations across America were performing his patriotic and inspirational songs. "Just when I thought my dream had died," says Hank, "my songs brought comfort to people across America."
Since that first performance on September 11, 2003, Hank's songs have been performed all across America. In addition, his 9/11 songs have been performed at official 9/11 ceremonies in all five boroughs of New York City, as well as at ceremonies in Shanksville, PA (where Flight 93 crashed on 9/11/01), and in Arlington, VA to honor the first fire department to respond to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. On September 10, 2006, Hank received a Citation from the New York City Council for his "continued generosity and devotion to the remembrance of September 11th." Hank's song "Halfway to Heaven" was chosen by the NYC Fire Department as the soundtrack for its official video memorial honoring the 343 FDNY members who died on 9/11/01. On March 6, 2008, Hank received a "Service Above Self" Community Service Award from the Rotary Club of Jersey City, NJ, where Hank's 9/11 songs have been performed each year since 2006, at the annual 9/11 ceremony honoring the 38 residents of Jersey City who died on 9-11-01.
In other areas, Hank's song "God Protect The Children" is used by the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation to raise awareness of this deadly illness, which often afflicts young children. Hank's song "6,000,000" has been performed at inter-faith conferences on the Holocaust and modern examples of genocide, under the auspices of the Anti-Defamation League. At the request of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Hank supplied the Medical Center with CD copies of his album "The Hank Fellows New American Songbook" for distribution to the families of veterans suffering from war-related injuries. Live performances of Hank's patriotic and inspirational songs also have been included on several Christmas DVDs which have been distributed through the military to our troops serving overseas.
Hank Fellows also has written a 9/11 children's book, "Sirius, The Hero Dog of 9/11", which introduces elementary and middle school children to the issues and themes surrounding the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. "Sirius, The Hero Dog of 9/11" is currently part of the New Jersey state-wide curriculum on 9/11 education. The New Jersey Department of Education has created 9-11 teacher lesson plans for grades 3-5, 4-6, and 6-8 based on Hank's book "Sirius, The Hero Dog of 9/11".
For more information, see the "Sirius, The Hero Dog of 9/11" page of this website.
Hank Fellows has had the opportunity to speak to and perform his songs for audiences across America. Whether Hank is speaking about 9/11/01, songwriting, or following one's dream, Hank always carries his message of hope and perseverance. Hank's motto is: "Never give up, never give in, never listen to the people who say you can't win."
It's been a long journey for "America's Songwriter" Hank Fellows, but for Hank the journey never ends. "I always have a lyric in my pocket and a melody in my head," says Hank. "Each morning, I wake up and say, "What a great new day to write a song!"
To see photos of "Hank's Songs Across America" click here.
Hank Fellows (right) accepting a Citation from the New York City Council, Sept. 10, 2006, for his "continued generosity and devotion to the remembrance of September 11th."
On March 6, 2008, Hank Fellows received a "Service Above Self" Community Service Award from the Rotary Club of Jersey City, NJ. Hank's 9-11 songs have been performed at Jersey City's annual 9-11 memorial ceremony each year since 2006, in honor of the 38 residents who died in the 9/11/01 attacks.
Hank's songs "Halfway to Heaven", "My Coat of Many Colors", and "The Spirit of America" were performed at a ceremony in Arlington, VA dedicating a steel girder from the Twin Towers to the Fire Dept. that first responded to the 9/11 Pentagon attack, August 2010.
Hank's song "One Heart, One Voice" was performed in southern California on Sept. 11, 2010.
The NYC Fire Dept. selected Hank's song "Halfway to Heaven" as the soundtrack for the FDNY's official 9/11 memorial video tribute to the 343 FDNY firefighters who perished in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. To view this video, click here.
At the request of Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC, Hank Fellows provided CD copies of his album "The Hank Fellows New American Songbook" to the families of veterans suffering from long-term war injuries, Jan. 2010.
Hank with Colonel Tom Henricks, former astronaut and Space Shuttle commander. Hank's song "The Spirit of America" was performed at the Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen's Club in New York City, at an event honoring Colonel Henricks and other dignitaries, Dec. 2009.