Creating a Christmas Charity Album

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I’ve recently had the pleasure and good fortune of collaborating in the creation of a Christmas Charity album. The album is called Hope for the Homeless Heroes’ Hearts and proceeds from it are going towards supporting homeless veterans in the United States.

My role has been fairly minor, mainly involving the provision of lyrics for a song and then collaborating with a couple of talented musicians to ensure that it progressed from idea to fully fledged song. The experience of working on an album, and one with a charitable purpose, has been a completely new one for me though and a very enriching one.

So I thought I’d create this blog article to celebrate the creation of this album and also to share a few insights that I have taken from this project. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to embark on your own project? I also hope that a few people might check out the album and purchase it so that we can raise a few more dollars for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans!

Hope for the Homeless Heroes’ Hearts

Christmas charity album
Christmas charity album for homeless veterans

Some time ago I joined a Facebook songwriting group called ‘Songwriting and Music Production‘. Posts from the group frequently pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. A lot of them aren’t really of much value. There are too many instances of people saying things like ‘Write me lyrics’ without supplying anything in the way of a creative brief or supporting music. Or people asking how they can get rich quick! However, from time to time, useful interesting posts do crop up and my interest was piqued when I saw a post about creating a Christmas charity album. 

The brainchild behind this album idea was American musician Stephen Kalpin. I remember thinking that it would be a big endeavour to pull together a disparate bunch of musicians and lyric writers to create a coherent compelling Christmas charity album! The good news is that I think he has achieved just that, with the help of a great collective of co-collaborators. 

My involvement as a Lyric writer

Lyric Slinger drawing
Lyric Slinger drawing, by Gemma Upson

I volunteered to contribute towards the album as a lyric writer. I was aware that the bulk (or maybe all) of the songs would be cover versions of old Christmas classics but I thought I would throw my hat into the ring with the provision of an original lyric.

Amongst my back catalogue was a lyric called ‘Christmas Days’, which had then been turned into a work in progress song thanks to collaboration with Alice Minguez and Pascal Vanier on the Kompoz music collaboration website. Unfortunately that collab had stalled after Pascal left the site so I thought there was maybe an opportunity to give it a different treatment for inclusion on the charity album.

However, I then hit on another idea. Given that the album was specifically to help homeless veterans, I realised that it might be more impactful to have a song that is written from the perspective of a homeless veteran. I was confident this was the right direction to go in but the real test was whether I could come up with anything that would be deemed good enough to be included?

Stand for you

Homeless veteran
Stand for you charity song

Sometimes the lyric for a song comes together very quickly. And sometimes they take a long time. Stand for you came together quickly. I think I got the bones of it together in one day, although it then underwent some tweaks over a period of weeks. The song tells the story of a soldier called Riley who has fallen on tough times and is now sleeping rough on Christmas Eve. I wanted to contrast the joy and excitement of kids tucked up in their warm beds wanting for the arrival of Santa, and the reality that awaited Riley.

Here is a snippet of the lyrics:

(Verse 1)

Snow is falling on Christmas Eve
Reindeer being readied
Sleigh bells on the breeze,
But not everybody’s tucked up in bed
Or has a roof on which to land a sled

Woah, Christmas Eve

(Verse 2)

Snow keeps falling on Christmas Eve

Riley’s old blanket

Guards against the freeze,

The medals that he earned were sold long ago

A dog-tag round his neck glinting in the snow

Woah, in the snow

(Pre Chorus)

We all have our wars to fight
Let me stand with you
Deep in the dark of night
I know what you would do

(Chorus)

You stood for me
So I will stand for you
If you can’t stand any more
I will carry you
We’ll carry you
Support each other
It’s what we gotta do

Written by Simon Wright (September 2018)

I submitted the lyric and was delighted when musician Seth Koos said he would like to turn it into a song. My brief was that I thought the lyric would be suited to a Bruce Springsteen style of song. However, Seth came back with something very different. He said that he heard it as a heavy rock song!

Heavy rock is my favourite genre to listen to, so it sounded like an interesting direction! Seth sent through a rough demo and it sounded vibrant and full of promise, although admittedly probably a little rough around the edge. I could see the potential and was excited to see it progress.

Our next task was to find a singer for it. Seth had done a vocal demo but just as a guide and we knew we needed someone who fitted the genre and had the necessary vocal power. We initially considered a singer called Marcello who we had sourced from a site called AirGigs but his busy schedule ultimately meant he couldn’t support us. We were lucky though to be able to recruit Bob Campbell. I had worked with Bob on Kompoz on a song called ‘Army of the damned’ and thought his voice would be a good fit. I messaged Bob to see if he would like to join the collaboration and luckily he said yes!

Bob did more than add great vocals to the song. He also redid the drums and took on the production of the track. Seth reworked the guitar and bass seps and Bob did an amazing job of mixing all the components to leave us with a great finished song.

I’m not going to mention anything more about ‘Stand for you’ apart from the fact that you can buy it in two ways.

The best thing to do is to buy the whole album. Then you’ll have 20 greats songs to listen to! You can buy the album on digital download from the Hope for Homeless Heroes’ Hearts cdbaby website page.

Or if you just want ‘Stand for you’ on its own, then you can buy it on Amazon.

Why you should buy Hope for Homeless Heroes’ Hearts

Hands holding a heart, accompanied ny the words 'Helping Hand'
Giving a helping hand

Everyone loves Christmas, right? Okay, nearly everyone loves Christmas! But year after year many households find themselves struggling to work out what music to put on whilst their opening presents, carving the Christmas turkey, or relaxing at the end of day. I reckon there are lots of people who have had the thought ‘We should get a Christmas compilation album’ but have just never got around to it.

Well, you’ve got no excuse to put it off any more. Buying Hope for the Homeless Heroes’ Hearts will give you a selection of Christmas-themed songs. A whole 20 of them to be precise! And the money you spend (only $8.99) will go to a worthwhile charity. So whilst you sit and enjoy your Xmas festivities you’ll also have the warm glow of knowing that you have helped homeless veterans.

However, I realise that people also want to know that the album they are getting is going to be good. So I’m now going to convince you that there are no doubts on that score.

What do I get with the album?

Guitar and Christmas decorations
Reasons to buy Hope for Homeless Heroes album

As I’ve mentioned, the album contains 20 songs, so a great selection of Christmas-related songs to listen to! Here’s the track listings:

  1. Radiate the love (feat. Melissa Marks & Kelly Vaughn)
  2. Glorious Christmas
  3. O Come O Come Emanuel
  4. O Holy Night (feat. Andy Bonnar & Stephen Kalpin)
  5. God’s Gift of Love
  6. Shining Light (feat. Melissa Marks, Macedonian Choir & Macedonian Orchestra)
  7. Christmas Time Again
  8. Patapan
  9. Noel (feat. Melissa Marks)
  10. Holy Medley (O Holy Night / Holy Holy Holy / Agnus Dei)
  11. The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy
  12. Ghumiye Poro Na – the Savior
  13. Holiest of Stories
  14. Angels from the Realms of Glory
  15. Don’t take Christ out of Christmas (feat. Melissa Marks)
  16. Christmas Everywhere
  17. Silent Night
  18. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  19. What Child is this (feat. Sharon Franck Roach)
  20. I’ll Stand for You (feat. Robert Campbell & Seth Koos)

There are some well known Christmas classics in there, such as O Holy Night, Silent Night, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. There’s a whole bunch of sumptuous sounding songs, most of which fit within the easy listening genre. And then there’s a heavy rock song snuck in at the end, with my ‘I’ll stand for you’ track. I imagine there might be a few listeners who get a slight surprise when those guitars suddenly kick in! 🙂

You can listen to snippets of all the songs before purchase and the album is available for Digital download via a range of websites. Here are some of the ways in which you can buy it:

CD Baby’s website: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/hopeforhomelessheroeshear?fbclid=IwAR1PP0aRS9vk1vT72lqU85pFhZjpq9XNoaxDCUBUjNgO7Owj4BznyL-Mc0I

Amazon (US): https://www.amazon.com/Homeless-Heroes-Hearts-Various-artists/dp/B07KGRRPMG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543363497&sr=8-1&keywords=hope+for+homeless+heroes+hearts

Amazon (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=sr_pg_1?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahope+for+homeless+heroes+hearts&keywords=hope+for+homeless+heroes+hearts&ie=UTF8&qid=1543363148

iTunes: Log into iTunes and search for ‘Hope for Homeless Heroes Hearts’ within the iTunes store. That should enable you to find and purchase either the full album or whatever individual songs that you want.

Happy Christmas!

Blue reindeer with guitar cartoon
Reindeer with guitar

I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it. And a fantastic and productive new year! 🙂

I hope that you have found this article interesting. Maybe it will inspire you to participate in a charity album or even to take the step of creating a charity album project. If you take the latter approach, I would just say that you need to be confident that you have the time, energy, knowhow and connections in order to deliver on such a commitment. Or at least that you surround yourself with lots of really capable and talented people.

I also hope that you feel inspired to but Hope for Homeless Heroes Hearts, or at least to but Stand for you or one of the other great songs from the album. The cost isn’t huge. In fact, you could probably easily spend the full cost of the album in one splurge on junk food in your local shop! And by putting some money towards our project you will actively be helping to support people (who like my fictional Riley character) have been through a lot, have helped to defend democracy and persecuted minorities, and who now find themselves in need of a helping hand.

 

 

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