Pop on the Rocks

Article excerpt

Lots of writers spend years trying to get their work in front of the public. For Ann Lesley Hamvas, a 17-year-old junior at Ladue's Horton Watkins High School, that process has been made just a tad easier through the massive distribution arm of Capitol Records.

Her poem, "The River of Eternity," was one of eight works by high school artists and writers nationwide to be selected for inclusion in the CD booklet for the new Richard Marx release, "Flesh and Bone." The booklet's intent is to showcase the importance of the arts in the lives of America's schoolchildren.

Marx, a smooth pop singer with a raft of past hits under his belt, is also a leading proponent of the National Endowment for the Arts. He's already been to Capitol Hill to discuss the future of arts funding in schools nationwide. Marx isn't shy when it comes to expressing his distress over NEA budget cuts. "The more I found out about how wonderful the NEA is, the more angry I got about the legs being cut out from under it," he explains. Marx, 33, says he doesn't approach the debate from the standpoint of a performer, but as a father (he has three sons, ages 6, 4 and 3) and a citizen. He sees the arts as a necessary component in the development of the youth of America. "I'm tired of seeing a generation of teen-agers without a focus, without a passion," he says. "My complete fascination with music kept me on a path. I had something to be crazy about. So many kids don't have that now. I don't care if it's sports, science, arts, whatever. The bigger issue is to get kids interested." Marx says he's not necessarily interested in inspiring kids to pursue a career in the arts. He just believes an early appreciation makes for a well-rounded person. "Kids with exposure to arts score higher on SATs than kids that don't," he says with the conviction of a proselytizing parent. …