FOR THE SENDER is an experiment in courage and empathy. It’s a collaborative effort of some of San Diego’s finest artists, working together to reveal the humanity behind their artistic expression.

Created out of an idea that writing letters is vulnerable and revealing, so much so that many letters are left unsent, and many words, left unsaid. This is an attempt by members of Switchfoot, New Found Glory, Nickel Creek, Jack Tempchin, Molly Jensen, Nena Anderson, and Alex Woodard to perform songs inspired by handwritten letters sent to them. The special performance is entitled FOR THE SENDER, in support of the release in book form. An event celebrating the project is Thursday at the historic La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas and will benefit homeless youth in Oceanside. Proceeds from sales and tours will benefit charities of the various sender’s choosing.

Letters featured on the website are the real-life kind. They’re the kind you’re going to have to sit with, perhaps at times uncomfortably. But there is a real beauty in this art form. All of the letters are candid and brave, revealing loves lost and taken, immeasurable sadness, suffering in impoverished countries and homelessness. In fact, the inspiration for the project was a woman who lost her soulmate and wrote him letters every Autumn. They are beautifully described on the website in a section titled The Autumn. It is through writing these kinds of letters that senders can experience relief, simply because they are able to share their stories. And then you add the power of music, translating that into sounds.

Musician Alex Woodard, the man behind the project, explains on the website that “sometimes a letter is like a prayer, written more for the sender than the receiver. There are unsent letters tucked away in dresser drawers and buried in boxes everywhere, serving as testimony that sometimes it’s enough to just write it down. You might have a letter of your own somewhere that nobody has ever seen.” That sentiment has prompted him to create the book, album and concert series.

This is the first of many events connected to project, which will feature a rotating cast of artists, as well as an early spring release of the music as an audiobook with songs embedded, as well as a DVD of the live event. Get your tickets quick — the original 7p.m. performance sold out, but due to demand, organizers added a 9 p.m. performance.

Nada Alic runs the San Diego-based music blog Friends With Both Arms. Follow her updates on Twitter or contact her directly.

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