What's so special about this album?
This is my twelfth CD, the most ambitious project I've ever undertaken, and I think it's the best work I've ever done, in partnership with musicians from all over the world—literally.
In the last ten years my life has deepened in ways I couldn't have imagined. I've formed friendships and had experiences that have changed me. I've spent time in many countries and come to love people whose life experience is very different from my own; I've become a father, written books, struggled and studied, and these songs have been marinating in all of that.
There are musicians from every continent playing on this record, contributing Latin flavors, Eastern sounds, African and Appalachian musicians playing traditional instruments, gospel harmonies, and almost every kind of guitar-shaped-thing you can imagine.
To collaborate across all kinds of cultural lines and yet maintain authenticity is a high bar. This album has been a big stretch for me. It's my music, but it's also something quite new.
Each of my first ten albums covered about a year and a half of my life experience. This one covers ten.
It's been ten years since you recorded a CD?
In 2008, at the height of my music career, I walked away from it (though happily, and for a good reason). My tenth and most recent full-length CD, Change, came out in 2006 (not counting a retrospective 'Best Of' CD).
I had a strong sense that even though my music career was flourishing more than ever, it was time to pursue another lifelong passion of mine and put it front and center in my life. I applied for, and was awarded, a Rotary World Peace Fellowship to pursue a master's degree in International Studies, Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.
I wanted to put more direct action behind the things I care about and sing about, and I wanted to learn more about peacemaking. So my wife, Deanna, and I moved to Australia with our ten-week-old son, Mason. After a rich year there, we moved to rural India so that I could work and study with a Gandhian sustainable development organization. Then we moved back to Australia so I could finish up the master's, then back to North Carolina.
I learned a lot in that time. One of the things I learned, as it turns out, is that music matters a great deal in a world soaked in struggle.
So what have you been doing since then?
I have returned to touring full-time, though now about half of my work is speaking and leading workshops. In the last few years, I have spoken at the Scottish Parliament building and the Maryland State Senate, among other places, and will soon be speaking at the Baccalaureate service for Columbia Theological Seminary. I've also been to jail a couple of times due to civil disobedience. My 2014 book, Worldchanging 101: Challenging the Myth of Powerlessness, is now being used as a college textbook, and has gone further than I ever imagined.
In the six years since we returned to the US, in addition to Worldchanging 101, I wrote an illustrated children's book about creative non-violence, White Flour, I've served on the AFSC Nobel Peace Prize Nominating Committee for five years, I've been busy with a non-profit that my wife and I founded to work with schools and libraries in Guatemala, PEG Partners, I've been a dad and a husband. It's been quite an adventure.
...but I haven't made an album.
I have been writing songs and gathering stories and relationships and struggles and insights for that whole decade, and this CD is an effort to create an artful container for them.
Where is the money going?
To make this record with me, I enlisted two of my favorite record producers, Tom Prasada-Rao and Chris Rosser. Working with all of these musicians around the world, multiple studios and two producers, it's a fairly big investment.
Some wise folks might have counseled scaling it down. I couldn't do that, though. This record needs to be... well, what it is becoming.
Some phenomenal musicians are joining me on this project — Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd plays electric guitar. Michael Manring, electric bass guru, lends his art. Graham Sharp and Nicky Sanders from Steep Canyon Rangers (who tour with Steve Martin), and eclectic bluegrass legend Tim O'Brien join me on the record, along with my Three Davids compadres David Holt and David Wilcox. Perla Batalla, who sings with Leonard Cohen, sings on the album. The list is long and distinguished, and the art is exquisite. I am amazingly fortunate to get to work with all of these people!
As of now, we are still recording parts — this week, a french horn and some gospel harmonies. As soon as we are done, we will mix, master, design, manufacture, etc. Estimating the remaining costs, and adding them to what I have already committed, here's how the budget breaks out...
• Recording studios (worldwide), producer fees, mastering: $24,150
• Musician fees: $6,350
• Photography, design and manufacturing (2000 CDs): $5,800
The total is $36,300.
The truth is that this doesn't include radio promotion, publicity, and other expenses that are also necessary to get the word out, but I will figure out how to do the rest.
At this point, most of this is money that I owe. And some of the expenses are yet to come. No matter what happens, I can't imagine regretting the decisions up to here, though. Simply the process of making the record has been deeply nourishing, and somehow it all just feels right.
So this is kind of like a major label record project on an independent label (which is mostly me and Barbie, who helps me out with office stuff and booking). The incredible support you have shown in the Kickstarter campaigns for my last two books emboldened me to take on a huge project like this one. I'm so deeply grateful tor that. And, of course, a little nervous, too!
Thank you for 25 years of dreaming with me, and thanks for checking out my biggest dream yet...
Risks and challenges
Well, there are always meteors...
Seriously, I've got great team on this, and we are deeply committed to it. We have the time to get it done, so if we can raise the funding, we can take this the rest of the way and bring it to the world in the next few months. Thank you for checking it out! And if you want to be part of the crew making it a reality, welcome!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)