The song that saved a life
By Tony Rossi
It’s rare that a song literally saves a life, but that was the case with actress/singer Jen Lilley’s debut single “King of Hearts.” In fact, she orchestrated it that way because she is a foster parent with a deep passion for children’s causes.
Until now, Lilley has been best known for her work in front of the camera on shows like “General Hospital,” “Days of Our Lives,” and several Hallmark Channel movies. I interviewed her last year, and we discussed her deep Christian faith and charity-focused life. When “King of Hearts” was released, I chatted with her again to find out more about this new venture.
She recalled, “I started singing when I was nine, but I wasn’t confident singing in front of people, unless it was worship. I helped lead worship at my church for years, so that was comfortable because...the attention is on God, not on the singer – or at least it shouldn’t be. I have stage fright, so I put [music] on the back burner, and pursued acting because I’m not afraid of the camera.”
After meeting a music producer who brought out the best in her, they started the process of writing and producing songs with a retro 60s vibe, reflecting the kind of feel-good music Lilley wanted to put out into the world. As “King of Hearts” was getting ready to launch, Lilley knew she wanted the proceeds to benefit a worthy cause, so she chose Project Orphans, a children’s village in Uganda for orphans and kids in foster care.
At first, Lilley wanted to help cover their monthly operating costs, which would help 73 children and 300 families. But then she saw that a boy named John needed heart transplant surgery that would cost $6,500. That seemed like a manageable goal to Lilley, so she invited her fans to buy her single and save a life.
Lilley said, “We raised the money for John and for their monthly operations through March. My long-term goal is to start my own charity here in the States in order to have a village like that. I’m still talking to doctors and psychologists to figure out what’s best for children. My idea is to maybe have a subdivision of foster homes that are ‘foster to adopt,’ so it’s a bunch of amazing parents that are in it for the right reasons, that are committed to loving these children. Then if the children become available for adoption…they’ll be placed in a home where they can find permanency, and they’re not just aging out of the system. That’s a long-term goal, but I always want my music to do something charitable, because I think that’s what life is about.”
Foster parenting is close to Lilley’s heart because she and her husband are foster parents themselves and are now in the process of adopting the son that has been with them for more than two years. In addition, they’ve welcomed his little brother into their home. Lilley recalled that, initially, she was hoping for a child who was elementary school age, but that plan didn’t go through so the agency asked them to take in a four-month-old boy with special needs. Lilley felt reluctant to do so, but ultimately agreed. She now calls it “God’s divine appointment.”
She concludes, “That process ever since has been the most rewarding, emotionally stretching, and spiritually stretching journey of my life. I would do it again, 100 times over, and I hope to foster until I die.”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note BUILDING A LIFE OF CHARACTER, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: [email protected].
Tony Rossi is director of communications for The Christophers.[[In-content Ad]]