Green Shoe Studios Collaborates with 96 year old to Record ‘Oh Sweet Lorraine’
Submitted by Sandy Graham
With people waiting to get married later in life, and second time around marriages, and even more divorces than ever in this world, the fact that Fred and Lorraine Stobaugh were married for 75 years is astounding. The day after she died, her husband sat alone in his Peoria, Illinois home for the first time without his ‘Sweet Lorraine’ and decided to write a song for her.
After writing the lyrics for ‘Oh Sweet Lorraine,’ he saw an ad in the local paper for a singer-songwriter contest. Though he was neither of those things, he decided to send in the ballad. ‘I’ll just send a letter,’ he thought. The contest rules asked for a video of the songwriter entrants actually performing their song. ‘Sent it all in. Never thinking I’d get an answer or nothing.’
Green Shoe Studio received just one giant manila envelope in a sea of emailed entries and were a bit taken aback by the size of the large package in their very small mailbox. When they opened it they were taken aback with the heart wrenching package and even though it did not fit the criteria of the contest,
the emotion behind the lyrics was enough convince the studio they wanted the song so one of the owners, Jacob Colgan, took it upon himself to get music created, recorded and produced for Fred. ‘I am a songwriter at heart. This one got to me and I wanted to do it for Fred and Lorraine. ’
“I came from a family of 7 kids so we are all used to sharing. We were brought up to know giving back meant getting more in the end. I grew up in a spiritual family, Dad an inspirational preacher and Mom a gospel singer. It was their passion that made me who I am today. When this package arrived I knew we had to do something with it.”
The timing of the package was also bittersweet for Colgan and his crew. His grandmother, Bobbie Graham had passed away a month earlier and the family was still grieving the loss. “I could feel the pain and loss by just reading the shaky handwriting in Fred’s letter and request. I knew we had to do something.”
When Colgan called Fred on the phone and said he didn’t qualify for the contest but that the studio wanted to record it for him, Stobaugh said, ‘I can’t afford that, I don’t have money to do this’. Colgan explained they wanted to do it for him at no cost. When Colgan contacted Stobaugh to tell him the good news, the bereaved husband welled up with tears. ‘Why would you want to do that?’ he wondered.
But to Colgan and his crew at Green Shoe, the answer was obvious. ‘Your song touched us,’ Colgan told Stobaugh. They set to work, collaborating with Stobaugh to craft a song and production that would do Lorraine justice.
When Fred Stobaugh talks about his wife Lorraine now, it’s hard for him to hold back tears and he gets a sad faraway look in his eyes. ‘She gave me 75 years of her life and that life we led together he says was ‘like a dream.’ It is hard to tell if he means the incredible marriage that lasted 75 years or the fact she is now gone from his life. ‘She was the prettiest girl ya ever saw,’ he said.
Green Shoe set to work to collaborate on the music and create a song that would do love that lasted 75 years justice. When the song was finished Colgan was actually apprehensive about playing it for Fred.
A fear unfounded; with headphones on, as Fred listened to ‘Oh Sweet Lorraine’ for the first time, he kept wiping the tears from his eyes. ‘It’s wonderful,’ he said. ‘Just wonderful.’
The music industry has a reputation of being full of cynics and underhanded deals. Jacob Colgan and Green Shoe Studios have shown that there are still people who believe in the music. Colgan also credits the team that made it possible; Film by Oceanna Colgan (who also directed the film) and Jonathan Colgan, Production Assistants Mike Rundle, Elizabeth Powell, Adam Colgan. The actual recording has the music written by Jacob Colgan and the recording was performed by Green Shoe Studios. Of course the original lyrics were written by Fred Stobaugh.
The Green Shoe Studio website states ‘Changing Our Community One Dream at a Time’. I personally have spent over 4 decades in this industry. Green Shoe Studios and their act of kindness makes me feel like a believer again.
Stobaugh's touching dedication to his wife of over seven decades and is available on iTunes.