This month I am proud to introduce two artists who worked collaboratively on their song without the opportunity to actually meet each other: John Norman and Shawn Wayne Donaldson.
I’ve known John for most of my life and he has been playing music with my older brothers for as long as I can remember. John has an affinity for songs that have historic or unique significance. Although he now lives in New York, he recently stopped in to donate his interpretation of “Miss Otis Regrets”. It didn’t take long for John to finish up the rhythm and vocal track, but after listening to what he had created he declared that we needed some lead guitar and promptly split town.
Enter Shawn Donaldson. I met Shawn and his family at Plymouth’s Art-In-The-Park event this summer when they happened by our booth. Shawn is an extremely talented jazz guitarist who currently performs with the Washtenaw Community College Jazz Ensemble. We agreed that we wanted to get into the studio together, but Shawn didn’t currently have a vocalist. When I saw the opportunity to bring Shawn in on the Miss Otis project it was a perfect fit.
John and Shawn are both exceptionally talented – if you would like to reach out to them or learn more about their music:
Shawn: Shawn’s Facebook Page
It is with tremendous gratitude that I thank these outstanding gentlemen for their support. THANK YOU!
Here’s a little background on the song, in case you are not familiar – Cole Porter was enjoying lunch with some friends and bragging about his awesome writing skills. Cole stated that he could write a song about the very next statement made in the restaurant. The table adjacent to this group was then informed that “Miss Otis regrets she is unable to lunch today…” and a song was born. Cole went on to turn this statement into a tale of love lost and passion unleashed – a song that was extremely dramatic in 1934, and may still be considered so by some today. Miss Otis has been covered throughout the years, but not with this blend of talent and the underlying influence of both of this month’s Giving Songs Featured Artists.
Please take a moment to download a copy of this song so that we can continue to help families through the power of music.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Jackie Wilson sings “Now once I was down hearted, disappointment was my closest friend.” I would like to meet the person who can’t relate to this statement. Difficult things happen to us, or those close to us, and we experience some level of heartache.
I remember lying on the floor in my son’s room on the day the doctor had first used the word blind in a conversation. I called my mom to explain that Jack was not going to develop vision, and I could barely speak. I was saying goodbye to all of the dreams I had envisioned while waiting for little Jack to get here. I was going to teach my son how to fly an airplane, how to run, how to tell a joke. I spent a long time on that floor – even after I stood up and walked out of the room – my heart stayed down there. I found it really hard to say goodbye to those dreams and to accept the responsibility of raising a challenged, yet amazing, loving, hilarious little boy. This is the moment I think of now when I read the lyrics “once I was downhearted.”
Fortunately, Jackie goes on to sing “And now with my loving arms around you, Honey, I can stand up and face the world.” I am very blessed to have a lot of loving arms in my life. I am certain that without the love and support of others, my heart would still be on that floor in Jack’s room. But it isn’t, and for that I am grateful.
There is an inverse relationship between how difficult it is to stand up, and the number of loving arms you have in your life – and that’s one of the primary reasons Giving Songs exists today. We simply put one more giant set of loving arms out there to help parents who may still be downhearted. We want to help them stand up, and want them to know they are not alone.
Please celebrate our newest cover song release, “Higher and Higher”, as generously performed and donated by Detroit’s own Downtown Brown. This song speaks very clearly to the depth of human emotion, and how working together we can face any challenge. Proceeds from this song will go directly towards helping to buy a wheelchair lift vehicle for a 10-year-old boy, who is getting too big for mom to transfer in and out of their current vehicle safely.
President, Giving Songs
Wow. There are so many things to say. First and foremost, thank you. Thank you to everybody who brought life to an amazing organization – friends, family, businesses, and all of the artists who have donated their time and talent.
Also, thank you to everyone who has a visually impaired, multi-disabled child in their life. Thank you for everything that you do every day. As the father of a young boy who faces extreme challenges, I understand how hard you work for the ones you love. These struggles are the first thing I think about when I wake up, and often my last thought before I go to bed. It is with great passion, gratitude, and hope that I write the first blog for the new Giving Songs website.
The website isn’t the only new and exciting thing for Giving Songs as we transition into 2014. After working with the IRS for more than a year we received non-profit tax-exempt status. This allows us to better support the underserviced community of families with legally blind, multi-disabled children. Additionally, we have new music lined up for you and our first donated music video in post-production. We will use all of these blessings in addition to your support to make waves this year.
Having shared all that exciting news, we are working right now to assist a family with the purchase of a wheelchair lift vehicle. These vehicles are priced out of reach for most families, which means they will either endure hardships to obtain the equipment they need to transport their child, or they will go without something as fundamental as a vehicle that meets their basic needs. Consider making a tax-deductible donation or purchasing our music today so that we can assist this family with a life-changing vehicle.
Again, thank you for coming to our digital home and reading this update. Future updates will be posted regularly – covering everything from current events for Giving Songs to personal updates from the perspective of a family who lives, learns, and loves alongside this community.
I am very proud to introduce our September 2014 Feature Artist – Carly Bins!
Carly is a very talented musician and it is a privilege to have her support. It is our hope that you will enjoy her performance and watch her career grow as people become aware of her ability. This song was selected by Carly as a personal favorite, and it is the “youngest” song in our catalog. This tune was originally released by The Lumineers in June of 2012, and now Carly’s version is available which builds on her amazing vocal strength and depth. Thank you, Carly!
In her own words:
Carly Bins is a 15 year old sophomore at Northville High School. She is a singer-songwriter; lead singer and acoustic guitarist of the all-girl band Unusual Symphony; and a member of the NHS all-girl a cappella group Treblemakers. Carly is also a two-time winner of Northville’s Talent for the Title (in 2012 with Unusual Symphony, and in 2014 as a singer-songwriter). In addition to singing and playing guitar, she’s been writing her own songs for about 3 years. She takes inspiration from events that have happened in her life and stories she creates.
Performing is truly Carly’s passion and it has given her many opportunities. One of her favorite accomplishments is being a Top 5 Finalist in the 2014 WDIV Local 4 Super Singer Competition. Because of this, Carly was able to perform on live TV before the Ford Fireworks.
Carly loves working with Giving Songs and has performed at two of our fundraising events. She is thrilled to be the Featured Artist of the Month and hopes you enjoy her version of The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey”!
It is my pleasure to introduce Robin Horlock as the August 2014 Giving Songs featured artist!
Robin has been an amazing friend over the many years I have been fortunate to know him. Robin’s most memorable performance for me personally was his version of When You Say Nothing At All, which he played at my wedding in 2006. This was the first song I danced to with my wife, and it is a memory that Jaime and I truly cherish. Thank you for that, Robin!
When Giving Songs was just a concept, Robin embraced the idea and told me “Whatever I can do to help.” Robin came into the studio to donate a track on our debut album, covering Fire and Rain. This album has gone on to raise over $15,000 which is being used to help families with blind, multi-disabled children.
Robin approached the Giving Songs team recently and wanted to organize an event in Northville to further raise awareness for our cause and help our organization grow. Again, he said, “Whatever I can do to help.” His support as an artist, friend, and philanthropist has been exceptional and the community is lucky to have an artist with a heart this big.
As a musician, Robin is very accomplished. He is well known for his intricate guitar work and powerful voice, and plays over 200 live shows each year! Robin’s music has played on the radio, his live performances have taken place all over the country, and he even played a show for former President Bill Clinton. Robin’s music is available at www.robinhorlockmusic.com.
Robin has returned to the studio this month to record his version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. We chose to release the song on Saturday, August 9th, to coincide with our fundraising event to benefit Giving Songs, Sounds of Summer. Tonight’s event simply would not be possible without Robin’s support.
I could not be happier to have Robin Horlock as the first artist in our Featured Artist program. Please head over to our store to download and enjoy our newest song!
We are proud to announce that the Giving Songs’ December Featured Artist is our good friend and long time supporter, Michael Bush!
Several of the Giving Songs board members were fortunate enough to go to high school with Mike. He played at the 2013 Night of Great Taste event and also played the guitar part for Briana Bradley’s At Last, which is track 11 on the Giving Songs CD. We are extremely grateful to Mike for his support and his amazing talent. A fun fact worth mentioning – Michael is the first artist to play every instrument on a track. When you listen to the drums, guitars, bass, piano, and vocals – please keep in mind that you are listening to one amazing performer! We asked Michael to give us some background on why he chooses to support Giving Songs – thank you, Mike!
About Giving Songs
We’ve all grown up with radio, TV, and now the internet to provide our entertainment. Even though a lot of important music happens on that media, I appreciate the music that happens in my community the most. Playing for a crowd at a big rock festival is special, but so is playing for a few old folks at a retirement home whose memories can be brought to life with the right song and spirit. And so too is playing for a room full of friends at a coffee shop or a pub.
The spirit of music in our community is one of the things that makes being a part of Giving Songs so special. Watching the efforts of Giving Songs grow and seeing the results is an absolutely huge inspiration. Great things are happening every day. Giving Songs is seizing the opportunity to make each day a gift by helping those sharing this time and space with us. We’re blessed to be alive, have some degree of health, and be able to make music. Thanks to Giving Songs for putting a voice to that beautiful song.
My name is Michael John Bush. I’m a singer, songwriter, and guitar player. I do think of myself as a guitar player first and foremost, and love to perform for an audience of any size. Music seems to come out more effortlessly when people are in the room listening. I have been blessed to learn and play with some incredible musicians and these friends, moments, and all the great records have been my mentors.
I have shared stages in NYC, Los Angeles, Detroit, and many points in between. I like music with deep roots, but, of course, I like anything that is good. When I lived in Ann Arbor, I played jazz and funk music. When I lived in Texas, I played country, western swing, and bluegrass. When I lived in Los Angeles, I played spacious Americana rock and roll. Now that I’m back in Detroit, I like to play music that makes you feel good and warm no matter what temperature it is outside. I’ve never dreamed of being famous for doing this (perhaps rightfully so). What I want is for people to enjoy being in a room with me making sound. Would you rather be in the room with this guy making noise or not? That’s the question I care about most.
Please take a moment to download Michael’s version of Van Morrison’s Crazy Love.
I am excited to introduce Andrew Sigworth as the Giving Songs October 2014 Featured Artist!
Andrew is a well known and celebrated local artist and we are proud to have his support! Andrew plays a lot of shows as a solo artist, and also fills the role as front-man with Cold Tone Harvest. If you would like to learn more about Andrew, hear his music or watch his event calendar, please check out www.coldtoneharvest.com!
This song has been on my short list of favorite tunes for a long, long time. Originally by Keb’ Mo’, this song is about the love we have for those close to us. In my case I reflect on my kids, Jack and Ava, when I think about the lyrics. The families which receive assistance from Giving Songs are used to doing whatever it takes to give their little one everything they need. When Andrew sings “it may be winter, it may be fall, I might have plenty or nothin’ at all but, baby, I’ll be there whenever you call,” it really hits home.
Please enjoy this heartfelt rendition of a very moving song: