“Songs of Love” benefits children across nation
by Michael Perlman
Sep 05, 2017 | 4179 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Beltzer
John Beltzer
John Beltzer with Song of Love recipient Maisie and her mother.
John Beltzer with Song of Love recipient Maisie and her mother.
Forest Hills resident John Beltzer founded the Songs of Love Foundation in 1996 to play a role in boosting the emotions of children and teens facing chronic and terminal diseases and emotional challenges.

To date, nearly 28,000 children and young adults have received a personalized “Song of Love,” an original composition by national songwriters and singers. Brochures are mailed to hospitals across the country, and parents complete a profile reflective of their child’s hobbies, pets, friends and family members.

“We have an active roster of 50 songwriters, and over the years we worked with close to 500 songwriters, everywhere from New York, New Jersey, and Florida to Minnesota, California and Nashville,” said Beltzer, who welcomes visitors to his office at 73-26 Yellowstone Boulevard that employs three full-time staff members.

A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Beltzer settled in Brooklyn at age eight and moved to Forest Hills when he was 15. After convincing his father to buy him a drum set, he taught himself drums, piano, and guitar. Beltzer and his twin brother Julio, who also played guitar, formed the top 40 band Cameon.

Julio composed a song titled “Songs of Love” in 1984, two months before passing away at age 24. Beltzer founded another band that appeared on Star Search in 1987, but in 1996 after a record deal did not materialize, “I experienced an epiphany to create a national non-profit Songs of Love, which I named in tribute to my brother.”

As a humanitarian, composer, and performer, Beltzer is grateful for many life lessons.

“I know how to sing and compose songs, and it’s not just about trying to achieve commercial success,” he said. “Anyone is given a particular talent for a much higher purpose, so no matter what you are good at, you can use that particular skill to create a better world.”

Memorable experiences continue to surface every time he records a Song of Love.

“I have composed an estimated 3,000 songs, and every song is unique, so I always find myself pleasantly surprised when I create a melody that has never floated around in the universe in quite that way,” he said. “It also gives me great pleasure to work with other singers, and especially those that have not recorded in a studio.

“It’s great to observe the satisfaction on their faces, when they know that the song will bring a smile to the face of a sick child,” he added.

In 2016, Songs of Love graced the Forest Hills Stadium stage.

“We were Paul Simon’s interactive opening act in a live recording of a song for a child named Teddy Moore,” Beltzer said. “We turned the stadium into a large outdoor recording studio, where two condenser mics faced the audience. We added their voices over the pre-recorded chorus.”

In August, hundreds of Forest Hills residents helped record a Song of Love for two-year-old Maisie, who was diagnosed with cancer, at the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce’s Jazz Thursdays event.

“We took that experience out of the stadium and into the streets, and what a unique and inspiring feeling and great bonding experience with the community,” Beltzer said. “Maisie went for her CAT scan the following day, and we found out that she’s cancer-free, so you couldn’t ask for better timing.”

In May, NY1 recognized Beltzer in the popular “Queens People of the Week” segment. Songs of Love has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Today Show, ABC World News, BBC, People, and “Hallmark Heroes with Regis Philbin,” to name just a few.

Billy Joel, Nancy Sinatra, Michael Bolton, David Lee Roth, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, and even Elmo, have partnered with Songs of Love. Thousands of Black Eyed Peas fans helped in the 10,000th recording, and Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath and 15,000 Mets fans recorded the 12,000th song at Shea Stadium.

To mark the foundation’s 20th anniversary in 2016, a concert was held at Webster Hall celebrating the music of The Allman Brothers. Beltzer has received thousands of letters of gratitude from parents.

“There are so many amazing stories, telling us how their child’s song has helped,” he said. “The environment around the child is pierced with soothing melodies, and it takes away the trauma, fear, and pain. On car trips to the hospital, everyone sings and it transforms the moment in a powerful way.”

In May 2017, Songs of Love was presented with a $1 million, four-year challenge grant from the Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation.

“Every dollar we receive is immediately doubled up to $250,000 per year,” Beltzer explained. “This grant will enable us to reach out to an additional 4,000 children in the next four years, so we hope that parents and friends will contact us to record a Song of Love. We are always seeking singers and songwriters to give back with their talents.”

Upcoming fundraisers include the annual LI Swing & Sing Golf Outing at Glen Head Country Club in Long Island on September 19, and the 19th NJ Swing & Sing Golf Outing on September 25 at the Preakness Hills Country Club. To participate, visit www.songsoflove.org.

To reach a broader audience, the foundation is creating a Songs of Love iPhone app, due for download in mid-September.

“You can request a Song of Love, learn how to become a songwriter, watch clips, view upcoming events, and make a donation,” Beltzer said.

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