Many people have recognised the beauty and authenticity of 'Are You Listening' since it's release on 31/07/20, but not everyone knows what went into making it, and specifically, how and why Susanne and I started working together.
It's public knowledge that 'Are You Listening' the first of a two album record deal with The Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation Inc., based in the USA, but what isn't public is the personal story of how that deal came about, and the extraordinary nature of it.
Susanne herself reached out to me online in April 2019, after finding my music on the internet. Was it YouTube? Was it Facebook? I can't remember. She emailed me through the contact form on this website, and I got back to her, as I always do to comments and messages. And so, we began emailing about life, philosophy, music, and spirituality. Little did I know or imagine the journey we would eventually take together!
I feel that there are many things in life you can work hard for, but every now and then an element of grace appears, and for me, that was Susanne. With her love and expertise, we became friends, almost family, and after many months of getting to know each other, she offered me a grant through her US based philanthropic foundation (which is private, and closed to the public), to develop two albums of music.
One of the many highly unusual things about our arrangement is that unlike a traditional record deal with a for-profit company, the foundation wasn't trying to own me or my music, and the funding was a gift not a loan.
Another very unusual thing was that unlike a traditional grant body, Susanne herself worked tirelessly over this album - she was with me every day in the studio over the internet (despite the time difference between the USA and Wales), making sure we got the very best takes, and bringing out the best in our musicians too. We both gave our hearts and souls to this recording project, and it is a reflection of my songwriting and my voice, and Susanne's expertise and refinement.
After the recording was finished, Susanne and I would Skype most weeks to talk about life, music, and our next steps. She engaged the executive director of her foundation Jason Quitt, to help with the music production and designing the album artwork. We have him to thank for the look of the final product! And so, once we felt it couldn’t be improved any further, it was released into the world on July 31st, 2020.
For me this album is different to anything I have done before. It is the result of the dedication of not just me, but Susanne and Jason too, who worked entirely out of the goodness of their hearts to bring it all together in this way.
Most of all, since this is a personal note, my life would not be the same without Susanne and what she has brought to me, my music, and everyone else through my songs. I am deeply grateful for the grace and love that is shown to me by her, and I'm glad we have put something out in the world that you can hear, enjoy and feel too!
Look out for the next one?