The Beginning and the End of Journey’s End

In 2006 my husband presented me with a poem he had written for me. It’s simplicity and beauty struck me immediately. So, also, did its inate singability. This was no poem, these were song lyrics longing to be sung. With no delay, I took his words and sat down at the piano. I didn’t have to search for it; the music was just there. A lot of times, as a songwriter, you try to write a song – and, that’s ok… you get some good stuff out of that. But, the best pieces come from songs that find you and choose you to write them. This was the case with Journey’s End.

I have often performed this song at live shows and it is the song I get the most requests for. I am certain that when I released my first album in 2012, quite a few people expected Journey’s End to, at the least, make an appearance on the album, if not be the title track thereof. But, no… it wasn’t the time and Gloriously Autumnal wasn’t the place.

In February of this year, I released my second album – a full length album entitled Expressions of the Songmistress. It’s a highly personal work. A labour of love for the art, a message for the hurt and hurting. Journey’s End could have found a home here (I could have stuck it in), but I’ve had other plans for this song for some time. Actually, I think the song itself has always had its own plans, you see.

Not without a good cause (or two)…

What do I give? What do I contribute? I sit, navel-gazing, wishful thinking that people would love and rave about my music. I have a handful of loyal fans, but it’s not like I can expect these people to shove my music in everyone’s face and demand that they listen and appreciate it. In the world’s eyes I am, well, if not a failure, I am certainly not a success.  I put up music to buy. It gets greatly ignored. Oh, a few listen, a few even acknowledge the talent, even fewer (those precious ones) buy it… but, I am far from having a successful, consistent career. I can’t do much for me, or for my family. Is it possible for me to do something for someone else?

Journey’s End is a song that lends itself to a message of love and charity. Of giving. Of being there for others when a friend is really needed. It’s about the support that comes from someone loving you, unconditionally, day in, day out, no matter what life throws at you, no matter how the road bends and twists – it’s about being there, all the way, to the end.

And so, if you download this single, I will be dividing the money bewteen two charities. First is The Center for Courageous Kids. This is a camp for children with terminal and life threatening diseases. They provide support for the families of these ill children while providing top health-care and – the most important thing of all – lots of fun for the children, filling what days they have with adventure and beauty and friendship. All the way, to journey’s end.

The second cause is very close to my heart and very close to my home. I want to donate money to my local community centre, the SRKCP, to run some very important music therapy groups. This funding will help buy instruments and equipment, affording us to run drum circles and other music events for the health and well-being of the community. It’s a way of me practically – rolling up my sleeves – giving back.

I hope these two awesome causes will touch your heart and you will download this single because you, too, want to do something you can do. For your gift, you receive a song, a beautiful song. And your gift can make a positive difference in the lives of a variety of people, insuring that these good works continue when they are so very needed. It’s such a win win win. The way the payment is set up on Bandcamp is that the track costs £1 or more. You can give however much more you wish to. All the proceeds will be divided between Courageous Kids and SRKCP.

I’d love people to download my music because they really dig my music. I have a little handful of people who do that, and it’s lovely. I wish it was more, but that doesn’t stop me for being grateful for what I have. Journey’s End may be the last thing I ever release for others to buy. I don’t know…  but, I do know, I want the legacy of this song to be about what the message of the song is about:

I will walk with you
With your hand in mine
Anywhere the road will take us

Be your company
Made of you and me
On this road
To journey’s end

I’ll be by your side
At the sound of my name
Anytime you choose to call me
I’ll be there for you
When you want me to
If you call
My heart will hear

I will sit with you
Ease your cares away
Any place you wish to send them

Be your honesty
Be your chance to breathe
All the way to journey’s end

I’ll be your honesty
Be your chance to breathe
All the way to journey’s end

I will walk with you
With your hand in mine
Anywhere the road will take us

Copyright ©James Leader & Autumn Dawn Leader

Listen, then click and give! It feels good to give.

Have I Ever?!

Life is nothing if not amusing at times.  I haven’t participated in a Daily Prompt in…well, I don’t rightly recall the last time.  I was on my way back to bed (not feeling close to well today) when the thought occured to me, “If the Daily Prompt has something to do with making music, I will post.”  And, lo and behold.  I had to laugh out loud when I read today’s Daily Prompt in my email, We Got the Beat, which asks (and instructs), “Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends.”

I won’t point out the obvious (oh, ok, I will…some people don’t know me from a hole in the ground, so… I’m a singer/songwriter and I have been off and on, throughout my life, a professional vocalist (professional simply means getting paid for what you do) since the age of 4). One could say I was born into a band.

Singer/Songwriter Autumn Dawn Leader at age 6

Singer/Songwriter Autumn Dawn Leader at age 6

Daughter of a professional vocalist and musician, as soon as I showed both the ability and the passion to sing, my mother “signed me up” to sing with her, lending harmonies, or taking the lead so she could do the harmonies.  She directed various choirs and choral groups, and I often lended a strong voice to these, as well.  I was in a variety of the trio groups she put together. Harmony is fun (one of the reasons I love to do my own backing vocals on recordings) and, as much as I like the spotlight and solo work, a good vocal group can be what I call a good time. Of all the people I have made music with, I probably enjoyed making it with my mother the most.  An ocean separates us now, so we don’t get to work together. I miss it.

The Chairs

When I moved to the UK, I managed to get a solo gig – a one off which didn’t amount to any more jobs.  So, I got a day job and did the nine to five where I met a computer tech who also played bass in two bands, one of which was losing their lead vocalist due to wanting to go solo.  I auditioned for them. I got the job (all of this one could read in my bio on my website…hint, hint).  I sang with The Chairs for nearly 2 years until the break up of the band (we lost our drummer and the keyboardist who started the band was getting bored, I think).  I enjoyed working with such excellent musicians and I was sad when my time with The Chairs ended. But, I’m still in touch with Ivor, the bassist, and we catch up and play together from time to time. It’s always a joy.

Making music with Bob…

Making music together is an intimate thing. Music is powerful. It’s more of a spiritual force – it transends the natural and temporary. Music belongs to the soul, belongs to the eternal. It can forge bonds…. and I get attached.  Of recent times I have played and sang in both a folk/acoustic band and a worship band with a couple of people that I miss very much now that – due to life and illness and the illness of life taking weird and agonising turns – I am no longer playing with.  This is a sadness. Attachment is dangerous. Playing in a band can teach you this. Painfully, but you learn the lesson.

I figure that before I leave this plane of existence I will play with others (oh, yeah, that’s another thing… musicians love the inuendo) once more.  But, right now, I am solo… making music, on my own. I make it because I am it. I was born into it. I was born of it… I make it because I’m made of it. I believe in it.  It’s more than what I do (but it is the only marketable thing I can do); it is who I am. I am the band.

The Beat Goes On (and this crazy journey called Life)

Today, I release my second album. It’s not only an event in the career of one singer/songwriter, it’s an important life event for me. This album is very different in a lot of ways to the first album.

What’s different? Well, this album has a more world-fusion and classical vibe rather than a mostly folky one (although, the folk still makes an appearance).  Also, there are some instrumental pieces (you are listening to one now) and even a drum chant! The djembe (that’s the drum) is new, too. My first album was a mix of secular and Christian. This album is…

...a collection of bits of my soul. It’s the fragments, the pieces – each song is a piece of what makes up me right now. It is very personal. At the same time, I think it will speak to many – especially my fellow one in four who suffer with depression and/or mental illness. But, really, this is an album for the everyman/woman, all of us who have known loss and understand pain and struggle on this journey we’re on. It’s for both the dreamers and the fed up. It has a distinctive meditative quality to it.  There are also a couple of love songs in there for the romantics among us, but there is nothing soppy here.  This is raw and revealing, it is both the highest hopes and the deepest despair of my heart. This is: