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New Year, New Music, New Club

A letter from the Founder:

I want to talk about some tough things, and then we can talk about some great things.  First and foremost, Giving Songs spent a good portion of 2016 on the sidelines. The Johnson family had a tough year – I received a layoff from a job of 8 years, and ended up with a new job that kept me busier than I’ve ever been in my 17-year professional career.  As you may know, Giving Songs is a volunteer organization primarily managed by our family – a family with a blind, multi-disabled little boy, living within the same community we work so passionately to assist.  Much of 2016 was a period of challenge, and as a result we weren’t able to put as much time into helping others as we would have liked.  Having said all of that – we’re settled in and ready to rock and roll for this year – happy, healthy, and enthusiastic about the future. 2017 has all of the ingredients to be an amazing year for Giving Songs, the artists who support us, and the families who receive our life-changing support.

Alright.. now, let’s talk about great things!

  • We have unreleased music you will be hearing soon, including Ken Puterbaugh’s beautiful rendition of Johnny Cash’s Let The Train Blow The Whistle which we released today!  (download here)
  • We’re well on the way to completing our third full-length compilation album which will be released this year!
  • We were played on the radio for the first time just last month – thank you to John Bommarito and ann arbor’s 107one!
  • We will be on the radio AGAIN this Sunday, March 5th – between 10:00 and noon (live stream at www.annarbors107one.com)!
  • We have a new way for those who know, love, and support us to help – it is called our Subscriber Club!  (details below)
  • Most importantly – we are reviewing applications and will be distributing grants and changing lives very soon!

Those are some awesome updates, and we wouldn’t have accomplished any of them without your assistance – thank you, thank you, thank you!

And now the new website feature I am very excited to share with you – our Subscriber Club. What is it, and why should you sign up?


The Subscriber Club is nothing more than a reoccurring tax-deductible donation to Giving Songs.  Individuals who register will receive links (via email) to all of our music on the day it is released.  Additionally, those who register will receive hard copies of our albums in the mail while they’re hot off the press. These copies will be distributed first, before physical copies are available at the CD release event or various retail locations.  This allows you to support all of our projects, all of our artists, and all of the families who benefit from everything we do.  We are hoping to build a community of sustainable donors who enjoy watching us grow and change lives – one song at a time.

Learn more and register your account here.

Thank you so much for being here – it means the world to so many people.

In Gratitude,

Brent Johnson
Volunteer and President – Giving Songs



Cooper Anstett – Featured Artist – April 2016

A supersized thank you goes out to Cooper for joining the Giving Songs’ Featured Artist roster!  Cooper’s song Move was recently featured in a Chevy commercial, so there is a fair chance you’ve already heard him!  The press has compared Cooper’s sound to George Ezra and Sam Hunt, although his tone is timeless with inflections that are reminiscent of many great artists – ultimately, his sound is unique, genuine and captivating.

Cooper 2

This month’s song is a punapharmacy.com take on You’ve Got a Friend which was written in 1971 by Carole King and later made popular by James Taylor.  Cooper’s moving version has depth and tone that you are sure to enjoy.

Please take a moment to download and enjoy his version of a classic tune, featuring special guest Erin Ayalp.


Drew Mayberry – Featured Artist – March 2016

I hope you’re sitting down when you listen to this song.  Thank you to Drew Mayberry for this wonderful and unique take on the classic “Stand By Me”.  We also thank you for performing at the latest Giving Songs event. We are so proud to have you on our GS team!

andrew song photo

Once you fall in love with his version of”Stand By Me”, we’d recommend you check out more of this talented local singer/songwriter in the videos on his Facebook page.

Here are some words from Drew:

Music has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember.  My father was a professional jazz bassist and my mother was a music teacher so I guess it’s just kind of been in my blood.  I first got into guitar when I stumbled across an old acoustic in my parents basement when I was 14.  I spent hours a day that summer teaching myself everything I could before joining a punk rock/ska band with some friends.  We evolved through punk rock, heavy metal, and acoustic rock until we decided to part ways after high school.   Now days I focus on playing as a solo artist leaning on the motown music that was part of upbringing.  I’ve also been influenced by Yellowcard and acoustic artists like Andy Mckee and Noah Gunderson.  

Music has always been a way to connect with people.  The fact that I can play something and in some small way change a life for the better is a beautiful thing.  That’s why I’m honored to participate in Giving Songs.

Thank you, Drew!

Please take a moment to download and enjoy Drew’s contribution!


Michael Dause – Featured Artist

Giving Songs was thrilled when multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Michael Dause agreed to participate. Busy preparing to release his first solo album and touring regularly with the wildly popular band The Accidentals, Michael was still able to carve out a few hours to stop by Plymouth Rock Studios and throw down his version of the The Outfield’s classic “Your Love”. Michael’s determination and skill paired nicely with a bright smile and we are happy to have worked with yet another product of Northville, Michigan.

Brent Johnson in the studio with Michael Dause

And so another exciting chapter is added as we build toward an eventual 3rd album release.
A Northville man named Kevin (who has lived in Arizona for 10+ years) was in town recently, commenting “I follow everything you guys are doing on Facebook. Giving Songs is beautiful. It’s the coolest thing ever.”
We are humbled by the support, near and far. Thank you Michael Dause, thank you Kevin McMahon, and thank you all for listening and sharing our story.
Don’t hesitate to check out Michael Dause’s new album:
In Gratitude,

Featured Artist – November 2015 – Josh Gierada

We are pleased to present an original song this month from our good friend Josh Gierada.  Josh has been incredibly supportive of Giving Songs since our inception, and has performed at several of our shows.  We asked Josh if he’d like to record a song for Giving Songs and he immediately said yes!  As it turns out Lee Hyland, another Giving Songs supporter, was working on a video project for school.  These two outstanding gentlemen joined forces to gift us with a beautiful song and video.  Please enjoy the video and download the song file – as always, you can name your own price!

We remain grateful to artists like Josh and Lee for making our mission possible.  We remain grateful to you for taking time to enjoy their creations and support our cause.

In gratitude,


Featured Artist – September 2015 – Brett Mobey

Four people told me that I needed to hear Brett Mobey play music, and all four of them were right.  Based on the growing stack of recommendations I tracked Brett down at a show, but unfortunately I missed his set.  I didn’t actually get to hear him perform until we met at Plymouth Rock Productions to record his song, Fare Thee Well from the film Inside Llewyn Davis.   Brett has a laid back style that contradicts the sounds that come from his guitar.  You’ll want to believe that there is more than one guitar on this recording, but what you’ll be hearing is a complex layered playing style that effortlessly oozes from Mobey.  Brett is a family man with passion and talent, and we’re grateful that he was willing to share it with us.  We’re thankful for his support and proud to call him a Giving Songs Featured Artist.  Please take a moment to download this beautiful song and support Giving Songs.

In Gratitude,


P.S.  On September 15th we were able to reduce the cost of a wheelchair lift vehicle for a local family by 51%.  That was possible because folks like you take time to download our music and donate to our cause.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!


Giving Songs Director Chris Vanderveen presents a life changing grant to Addisyn and her family.

Giving Songs Director Chris Vanderveen presents a life changing grant to Addisyn and her family.

Featured Artist – December 2015 – Debby Clinkenbeard

Wow! What an exciting update we have for you this month!  Many artists have been introduced to us through family and friends, and we’re grateful to Lee Hyland for bringing his friend, Debby Clinkenbeard, into the Giving Songs world!  Debby is a touring artist based out of California who has years of experience and multiple albums under her belt.  You can find more information about Debby and her music at her website here.

Debby 2

Debby showcases her exceptional songwriting ability with her contribution of This Season.   In her own words:

A few years ago I was challenged to write a Christmas song to perform at a holiday festival. Right away I wanted it to be a departure from tradition and lean toward something more organic. I wanted to write a piece that was lasting, something that inspired thought, and something that enveloped the heart of what we should all remember every day. I also wanted it to be a bit personal and have a little decoration as a nod to the season. More than anything, I wanted it to be something that would impart perspective and hope to this time of year whether or not the listener has all http://viagraforhealthyman.com/ of the traditional celebratory surroundings. For me, the winter season has a distinct rhythm that inspires reflection as nature seems to retreat in preparation for rebirth. I started thinking about this season beyond the man-made measure of time and cultural affectations. Every avenue I went down led to the same theme. No matter your faith or traditions, this time of celebration should be a nod to one thing: we’re still here. If we’re still here that means we can reflect, grow, affect, inspire, strengthen, build, and give. That, my friends, is a very powerful thing.

For some reason I never did much with this song. It’s beautiful and I am proud to be a catalyst for the message, but it always felt like it needed to wait for something bigger. When I had the opportunity to contribute to Giving Songs the light finally came on. This song was perfect for what these amazing people are doing. They embody the message I tried to convey and I couldn’t be happier to have found this home for a song that means so much to me. I’m humbled and thankful to be the December 2015 Artist of the Month and to contribute to their body of work. I hope you find Giving Songs and this track inspiring enough to make a purchase in support of such a great cause.

Have a wonderful holiday season,


We are so grateful to Debby for donating her talent, experience, and passion to our cause.   Please take a moment to download a copy of her song and make a contribution if you are able.  Giving Songs changes lives for families, and we can only do that with your support.

In gratitude,


Gratitude Large & Small!

A big thank you to Reverend Guitars for another home run! I’m thrilled to share their most recent contribution to Giving Songs, but first I’d like to share some personal perspective.

Jack woke up this morning (Christmas Eve, 2015) at about 3, and we came downstairs to sit by the tree at 5. We had some quiet time with our breakfast, which we used to reflect on the things we are grateful for. We know that we’re lucky to have our home, friends, and amazing family. We know challenges in life can sweep families off their feet, and somehow we’ve managed to pull through everything that has come our way.

We spend most of our time fighting to gain a glimpse of calm in this storm, and when a calm shows up we don’t waste any time – we enjoy it… we smile, we hug, we laugh, we dance, and we don’t take it for granted. We’ve learned to lock in on moments that might seem insignificant to an untrained eye; a joke, an uneventful meal, a new milestone for Jack… a sound, expression, or new movement. Some of these little things are capable of delivering tremendous and instantaneous joy.

Newton’s 3rd law of physics states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Prior to learning about Jack’s challenges my life had been fairly free of heartache. When I called to tell my mother her three month old grandson was blind, I did it from the floor because there was no strength to stand. The depth of that sadness was much stronger than anything I could have ever imagined. Fortunately, the equal and opposite reaction to that sadness is a joy more powerful than I had ever known. I’m always looking for one of these moments to recognize with gratitude, so a few quite hours with my son on Christmas Eve is a welcome gift this morning – a true moment of peace, Buy Viagra online no prescription and show… and calm, and joy. I’m smiling today.

If these little islands of happiness are enough to keep a fella going – imagine how impactful the really big islands are? Giving Songs has been and always will be a blessing to our family – we’ve made friends, discovered new resources, helped other families like our own, created beautiful music, and enabled our little boy to change the world in spite of his challenges. None of this would exist without you, and we know it, and we’re grateful for it… so are the families whose lives change when they discover the remarkable resource Giving Songs has become.

Now back to that thing I initially mentioned about a big thank you to Reverend Guitars. In 2014 Reverend shared one of our songs on Facebook, and then they were kind enough to respond to the email I excitedly sent their way. This is a cool company – grass roots heritage, passionate people working to build world class instruments, and they’re all happy to be doing what they do. It’s difficult to describe, but you can feel their pride in the air when you walk into the factory. A couple days ago Jack and I had the privilege of visiting them for the second time to pick up this brand new (completed that day!) Reverend Sensei Jr:

From left: Zack Green, Jack Johnson, Giving Songs President Brent Johnson, Reverend Manager Chris Zielinski, and Grace (Jack's cousin, enjoying a tour!)

From left: Guitar builder Zack Green, Jack Johnson, Brent Johnson, Reverend Manager Chris Zielinski, and Jack’s Cousin Grace.

This is a gorgeous guitar and it will be autographed (by who? TBD!) and raffled off to its owner at Karl’s Cabin on February 20th. It’s cool to raffle off autographed guitars… but it’s really cool when those guitars are professional quality instruments played by folks like Mark Knopfler and Billy Corgan. We are so lucky to have these folks on our side – thank you, thank you, thank you.

In gratitude,


Featured Artist – April 2015 – Rustic Union

I’d like to extend a tremendous thank you to Rustic Union for leading the local music scene in the right direction.    I’ve had the chance to speak to guitarist Mike Leavitt at a couple of shows and he is focused on the healing power of music.  To paraphrase, he believes that music is a source of positive energy in our world; music can inspire and heal, motivate and improve the world that we live in. Mike, John and Jaime provide world class live performances that challenge the best performances of our heritage.  They’ve provided Giving Songs with a tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young that is moving and genuine.  The Giving Songs’ recording mirrors their live performance, and reflects a wonderful interpretation of this classic.  The trio chose this song because of the positive message, and the focus on their world class harmonies.  Thank you to Rustic Union for this generous donation of talent.

Rustic Union performing live at Cabin Fever - 2015.

Rustic Union performing live at Cabin Fever – 2015.

Download their song and name your own price for a donation to Giving Songs here:  Teach Your Children

Featured Artist – June 2015 – Gavin Mee

We had an interesting thing happen this month when we crossed paths with Gavin Mee, from Dublin.  Gavin passed through town briefly on a tour of the United States, and by happenstance we met at a local open mic session.  Gavin’s passion and talent is world class, and as a result we immediately asked him if he’d like to know more about Giving Songs.  After some discussion Gavin generously made himself available for a few hours in the Plymouth Rock Productions studio.  The result is a live recording of a song written by Tony Chapman, of Amsterdam and we would like to thank Tony for giving Gavin permission to record this song for Giving Songs and waiving the royalty expenses.  The combined generosity of these two talented international artists has resulted in a really, really, really.. really great song.  Let’s talk about that – music can be interpreted in so many ways, so here it goes:  don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not in first place.  That’s what this song is about.  We have choices in life and often they’re a result of external pressures, but at the end of the day if we can shake those off we are left with the choice be proud of ourselves. Great advice.

Gavin Mee 1

Gavin Mee

Please enjoy the first international contribution to Giving Songs.  We extend our largest and most grateful thank you to Gavin and Tony for reaching out across the pond and creating new and wonderful art for our community.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

In gratitude,


Download the song here!

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