Local man’s song brings comfort to residents of Joplin

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By Tom Wilmoth

    A song written by a local man is being used to help out the folks in Joplin, Mo., affected by the devastating tornado that ripped through that city last month.

    Last year after Mark Laperle’s pastor lost his son in a car accident, he was moved to write “Sing Again” for that family.   When    the    tornado ripped through Joplin, Laperle thought it also might provide comfort to the residents there.
    So he sent it to them.
    The city’s IT worker picked it up and ran with it, adding it to the city’s Web site. Radio stations there began to play it and it was played during a ceremony held at the one-week anniversary of the tornado. A T-shirt has also been designed after the song’s theme.
    “It’s kind of taken off a bit,” Laperle said.
    Laperle, an accomplished singer and songwriter who often performs on stage and at events throughout Central Virginia, is in the process of making a CD, which will include the song. The version he sent was a “rough draft”—him singing and playing the guitar.
    “Ever since I sent it the city of Joplin had a link where you can listen to the song,” he said.
    A downloadable version of the song is available on the Joplin web site.
    “The news of it and the mounting death toll, just prompted me to send them out the song,” Laperle said of sending the song there. “I had no idea it would be taken near this level (of response).”
    He just thought “a few people in the city might be comforted by it.”
     “It’s very gratifying on a number of levels actually,” Laperle, who has never been to Joplin before, said of the song’s impact. That includes being able, as a songwriter, to communicate a message that provides comfort and touches people.
    “As a Christian, (I’m) just trying to show God’s love in that small way,” he added.
    Laperle has received feedback from residents of Joplin. “People have looked me up (on Facebook) and expressed gratitude for it,” he said. It has also been used for background music for Youtube videos made about Joplin and its recovery.
    “I’m always looking for ways to share my music,” he said. “It has shown me that even a small gesture can be used in a big way.”
    Laperle, a network administrator for DePaul Community Resources’ Bedford office, gave back through song, which then opened up an opportunity for others to give back.
    “I wish I could take away the pain,  a broken heart can bring; it changes everything. I’d gladly give you sunshine for the rain. Then by the grace of God, your heart would sing again,” reads the first verse of the song.
    Upon hearing the song, Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr reached out to Laperle to thank him.
    “It is truly a tribute to those who have lost their lives and to those who have been affected by this disaster,” said Rohr. “I was personally moved and touched by his gesture of genuine care and concern for our city. I called Mark and gave my heartfelt thanks for reaching out to us and wanted to convey it to all of the citizens of Joplin.”
    The song can be downloaded at www.joplinmo.org.
    The “Joplin’s Heart Will Sing Again” T-shirt was created and can be purchased at www.joplinsingagainshirt.com. A portion of the T-shirt sales goes to the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri’s Joplin Tornado First Response Fund.