Parsippany's Jared Wohl was rocked by the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy last October.
"This was the first natural disaster that really affected me personally," said the Morris Plains neighborhood resident, who is the lone member of musical project Farewell Luna. "I had plans to travel to Las Vegas to record my latest single, 'Momentary Angel' along with some of my other songs, and it just so happened to be shortly after Sandy had occurred. I couldn't have imagined the destruction that the disaster had caused.
"It really hit close to home—no pun intended," he said.
Wohl said he wanted to do something to help the relief effort and he decided to use his art to make a difference.
"I created my solo music project, Farewell Luna in 2012, and my goal has always been to focus on giving back and inspiring others the way that I've been inspired through music," the indie rocker said. "I saw the initiative as a great way to give back to those who are in desperate need of help."
He made his contribution uniquely personal—he decided to use his single "Momentary Angel" to raise funds for Sandy relief.
"Upon first coming up with the idea, I immediately called my friend's company, Pixel Pandas Interactive to discuss creating [a special] website," Wohl recalled. "They loved the idea and so we ran with it.
"I'm donating 100 percent of the money that I receive from this site directly to aid the victims of this terrible disaster," Wohl continued. "My hope is that we will not only provide aid in a monetary sense, but also in a spiritual sense as well. I'm a true believer in the power that music has on the soul if we simply open our minds and our hearts."
Next, the artist searched for an organization that would ensure that all of the proceeds would go to disaster victims.
"I came across the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund chaired by First Lady Mary Pat Christie," he said. "I contacted them to explain my idea for the initiative and they loved it. After the song was finished, we put the finishing touches on the website and I shot the promo video with another friend's production company, P1 Digital Media. Then, voilà!"
The apparently rapid move from idea to reality resembles the artist's own path.
Wohl has made music since his teen days, playing trumpet until his freshman year at Parsippany Hills High School and trying his hand at guitar at the age of 16. But he said he didn't get serious about songwriting until his senior year of college.
"I taught myself to play by ear and by reading [guitar tablature] on the computer," he said. "I had always loved music and one day I decided that I wanted to try to write a song. After a little frustration, I completed my first song and the feeling was indescribable. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was hooked."
Enthused, he called a friend and together, they formed a band called N.O.O.E. that performed gigs throughout New Jersey and New York City. After about a year and half of performing and writing music together, the band split and Wohl decided to go solo with a new project, Farewell Luna.
"I released my debut EP 'By The Morning' back in late August of 2012, and it received a wealth of love from the indie music blog circuit," Wohl said. "I was fortunate to have the positive support from my friends, family, and fans which has continued and expanded."
The album also was featured on "Class Act," a program produced by Parsippany's Video on the Go that features local musicians.
So while the Morris Plains resident's musical profile is rising, he said he hopes to experience similar success raising money to help storm-stricken New Jerseyans via Farewell Luna's Sandy donation site, which debuted Feb. 18.
"My hope is that the website will have a strong viral impact through social media and other press outlets such as Parsippany Patch," Wohl said. "The more people that hear about it, the better chance we have of raising more money."
At the site, visitors will receive a digital download of "Momentary Angel" for any donation of $1 or more.
Wohl said the site's number one priority is helping people, but noted that any promotion for his burgeoning career is a welcome plus.
"Obviously as an emerging artist, I need all the exposure I can get," he said. "And why not feel good about what you're doing? In my opinion, it's a win-win situation."
Wohl, who also works full-time at Parsippany High School as its ISS coordinator and coaches the combined varsity ice hockey team for the Hills and the High, said other projects are keeping him busy nowadays.
"I have some new music videos that I'm recording for my YouTube channel and I'll be singing vocals on two EDM [electronic dance music] tracks in the coming weeks, which is very exciting," he said. "It's always been something that I've wanted to do and now I actually have the opportunity. My goal is to release my first full-length album for Farewell Luna by this summer and tour by the fall."
In the meantime, Wohl said he will continue to write and perform within the tri-state area. And he is teaming up with the PHS Student Council for a [Sandy] benefit concert at the school on Friday, May 10.
"The details are still in the works, but it will be a great show to have the support from the community including students, friends and family," he said. "Needless to say, I've been extremely busy, but I couldn't be happier!"
Wohl encouraged supporters and fans to keep in contact with his Facebook and Twitter pages to stay updated on new releases, performance dates and other news regarding Farewell Luna.
"It's definitely time-consuming pursuing my music career, but no one said it would be easy," he said. "When you have an undying passion for something, nothing stops you from following your dreams. That is the mentality I have with my music.
"I'm simply determined and extremely blessed to be able to do it."