Tori Amos to Celebrate Two Decades of RAINN
This weekend RAINN, the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, is celebrating 20 years of providing an outlet for survivors and making a difference with a special banquet in Washington DC. Singer Tori Amos, who will be in attendance, has been a long time champion of the organization, even giving a memorable concert of her's benefitting RAINN aired on the Lifetime network in 1997. While Amos has been the name most associated with the organization, there have been a number of other known musicians ranging from R.E.M. and Sarah McLaughlin to Hootie and the Blowfish and Toad the Wet Sprocket who've helped raise awareness and donate their talents to RAINN. We spoke to RAINN co-founder Scott Berkowitz about how RAINN's grown over the past 20 years and the impact music's had on spreading the word.
RAINN Screen Capture Tori Amos in an Early RAINN PSA
What was the earliest event horizon of RAINN?
In the beginning there was the idea. Putting the organization together in early '94 started with the identification of a need. There was no national hotline for victims. There was a service gap that existed. While there was a lot of great community service organizations, they weren't always well known. So, the original idea was to find a way to tie together all the community organizations and create one national number that we could promote to survivors so that they could get immediate help.
Was this the first organization you attempted to put together?
Yes. I think in the original planning, my thought was that I would get this going and sit on the board for a year. It was not my intent to stay with it all this time. Originally, I didn't know very much about the issue to be honest. Like everybody else, I had a few friends in college who were survivors, and I'd heard some things from them, but I really learned on the job and talking to survivors and others who were working in the field. The organization grew very quickly.
Was there a particular moment you realized when RAINN was really connecting with people?
There were a few moments. We were very fortunate that our first donors were Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group. Atlantic, at the time, was Tori Amos' label. One of the ways they offered to help was to connect us with Tori and she agreed to be our first spokes person. Warner also brought on a lot of their other artists from R.E.M. to Hootie and the Blowfish. Even though we had a small budget and small staff, that launched us to a level of visibility that lead it take off and driving thousands of people to call the hotline.
Tori Amos has probably been the most associated with RAINN over the years. Do you recall how her partnership blossomed with RAINN?
Yeah, she's great. She's been a huge part of the organization and our accomplishments. From the very beginning, she played the spokesperson role and also really drew a lot of people to the organization. One of the stories she tells is how at every show she was playing, she was getting girls coming up to her afterwards saying "this happened to me too." With RAINN, she had a place to send them. We were able to help people at all of her concerts and help promote the hotline that way, as well as help bring in different corporate partners and sponsors.