Just got back from Germany late last night and I'm taking a day to recover. I gotta crank out three or four videos in the next couple weeks but I wanted to share a song I've been sitting on for the last week while my internet connection was too slow to upload anything to YouTube.
I met Will Gray at the Contemporary Music Center in 2007. It was the summer after I completed the four-month program there and I had returned to help set up the facilities for the incoming Fall semester. Will was starting his first semester on the faculty at CMC and his passion for music (as well as creative muscle) impressed the hell out of me. Around that time he produced a music video for his song, "Back to the Wall" which he filmed in NYC. It features a single-string banjo which was somehow combined with a soul/hip hop style that completely shattered everything that I had come to expect from music. It felt uncomfortable and alien to me on every level but I knew at my core that this guy was a genius. I only knew Will for a week and kept an eye on him for the next few years primarily because of a documentary he created called Broke* that explored the collapse of the traditional music paradigm and the future of independent, hard-working artists in this new, emergent music industry.
I think it was about a year ago that I heard Will had been diagnosed with cancer. In the following months I watched both his musical and film updates from a distance as well as updates on his treatment. I donated to his treatment fund and bought his new EP. What amazed me however was the dense, swirling cyclone of love and support that gathered around him following the announcement. His friends and family sent a steady stream of news and seeing the impact that this single individual had on so many people was truly inspiring.
Will's movie was finally released on iTunes this past June and I downloaded it immediately, an end to a years-long wait to better understand what was going on inside this man's head. One month later, to the day, Will passed away. In my mind, Will represented a passionate, brilliant artist who, in the timeless style of frustrated creatives, poured blood, sweat and tears into art that made the world a better place. I watched Will's last few years from half a planet away but somehow, even from here, the world seems a little emptier without him.
I wrote this song as I reflected on Will's passing. It seems a pale offering in remembrance of such an inspiring person...but it's from the heart.