For the past year I have been working on my new full length album Appalachian Eyes. This is my first fully produced album in more than four years.
Last summer I was performing songs outside of Katuah Market in South Asheville. Unbeknownst to me, Nashville producer, (that’s Nashville, Tennessee, that is) Neal Merrick Blackwood, was buying groceries with his wife, Taryn. They both heard me performing and the next day I had a proposal from them to record in their studio.
Of course, I was skeptical. This after all, is Asheville, a small town with a micro music industry where Dozens of people (eh, hem, DUDES) have “recording studios” in their basements.
When I asked Neal to send me a link to his work I was shocked to discover the artists on his resume. Cyndi Lauper, Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan. He has worked with LEGENDARY artists and has been in the business longer than I’ve been alive.
Neal was raised in Nashville to The Blackwood family who have worked with The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Smokey Robinson, Frank Sinatra, Alicia Keys, Michael Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks (I asked my mom to cut my hair like hers when I was six). . .
So. I went to his studio. He seemed nice. We made plans to work together. It was the height of summer and I had signed up for 2 weeks of printmaking at Penland School of Crafts. Out in the country at Penland, in the height of Appalachian summer, amongst master crafts folk, I wrote over a dozen songs worth of material for Appalachian Eyes. I also picked up the banjo for the first time and this had a strong influence on the voice of the songs.
Ten years into performing, writing and touring, I am confident that these songs are some of my best works yet.
When I came back from Penland, Neal and I immediately got to work, bringing in local legend, Chris Rosser to lay down piano tracks.
Then. . . . I got hit by a truck. Driving back from my family’s place Thanksgiving weekend, we were rear ended on the highway.
The impact of that night was beyond what I ever could have ever imagined. I had brain damage, memory loss and my abrupt crying fits wouldn’t cease. Having a concussion was one of the most terrible experiences of my life and the pain of the whip lash continued to limit, anger and frustrate me throughout the entire winter and into spring. The album got put on pause and I cancelled 2 seasons worth of performances.
Here it is 7 months later and I am just now getting BACK TO MY LIFE. I am in a tremendous amount of debt as I have paid out of pocket for this project and put a lot of the expenses on credit cards just to keep it rolling.
The majority of Appalachian Eyes has been laid out. I need you to help me finish it. By pre-ordering and donating you are giving me the opportunity to make the most beautiful record of my career, with a Grammy Award winning Nashville producer in the cradle of these mountains that I call home.
Please help me to finish Appalachian Eyes and to continue my full time career as a passionate songcrafter.
Thank You, Chelsea Lynn La Bate
Risks and challenges
Well, I already got the car accident out of the way, so I can't imagine that I would have the misfortune to have any more setbacks.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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