A musician is inspired to record with heroes after being diagnosed with Parkinson's

NBC News

At the age of 44, Samuel Smith received a Parkinson's disease diagnosis, which he believed would prevent him from continuing to do what he loved most—composing music.

He recorded an album with some of the best musicians in the world three years after receiving that diagnosis.

He claimed that the moment he learned he had the illness was "like a bomb dropping.".

"I recall the neurologist telling me I had Parkinson's disease as he looked up from his computer.

"I felt as though I were being dragged down the rapids with no idea of where the journey would lead. ".

According to him, he was terrified for the effects on both his young family and his flourishing public relations career, but he also feared for the future of his amateur folk and country music career.

Since I was a child, playing the guitar has been like breathing for him. However, one day, he looked down at his hand and it became immobile.

"I suddenly became anxious. It seemed like the end was near. ".

A young Samuel Smith with a small guitar in his hand
The guitar was "like breathing to me," according to Samuel, who has been playing it since he was a young child.

But now, his tale is one of tenacity and encouragement.

He gradually regained sufficient control over his hand movements to pick up the guitar once his body began to respond to the medication.

He said, "I felt like I was being pulled out of the water.".

"I made the decision right then and there that I would never take this for granted again. ".

He claimed that when his creative juices were flowing at full speed, he would stay up all night at his Weston-super-Mare home writing songs and recording them on his phone.

"I chose to record that because I wanted my children to hear their father's voice at his best.

Because I don't know how much longer I have, it was crucial to me that I leave a legacy and provide them with something they can always listen to with their children and grandchildren.

"That is the conclusion. ".

Cara Dillon, Samuel Smith, Sam Lakeman
Samuel's songs were so good that Cara Dillon and her husband Sam Lakeman invited him to record with them.

The former BBC journalist was told by friends and family that the songs were the best he had ever written and that he should record them in a professional studio.

He explained, "The issue was I have no connections in the music business.

"Since I don't know anyone, I just called people on the phone and messaged them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to let them know that I was making a record. This is a link to my music. Any chance?". ".

He was shocked when Grammy-winning music producer Sam Lakeman replied and extended an invitation to visit his Frome, Somerset, studio.

There was something in Samuel's email that really resonated with me, according to Lakeman, who said he is frequently asked "to assist people to make records for people and usually I have to say no.". ".

He claimed that even though his own grandfather also suffered from Parkinson's, as soon as he spoke with Samuel and listened to his music, he was "hook, line, and sinker.".

After hearing Samuel record in the studio, Lakeman's wife, folk singer Cara Dillon, offered to provide backing vocals.

I just wanted to be there for him," she stated.

Hearing the music he has composed has been amazing.

"It needs to be heard now. ".

Stuart Duncan playing the fiddle
Samuel referred to Stuart Duncan as "the best fiddle player in the world" in his email response, which was simply "I'm in.".

Samuel claimed that the sessions' success had inspired him to think even more broadly.

He said, "I created a hero-list of all my favorite artists and session musicians worldwide.

"I didn't know any of them personally; all I did was send a link to my music and ask if they'd be open to making an audio recording and sending it back to me. ".

His inbox soon began to overflow as he put together a virtually live backing band of some of the biggest names in country and folk music.

He reported that "they're all yes.".

I was simply unable to believe it.

The best violinist in the world, Stuart Duncan, retorted, "I'm in.

The man is intelligent, I mean. a bluegrass lore legend. He has performed for everyone in Nashville who is anyone, including Dolly Parton and Mark Knopfler. ".

Sierra Hull playing the mandolin
One of the many bluegrass, folk, and country musicians who played on the album was Sierra Hull.

Emails continued to flow in.

"The hottest mandolin player in the world, Sierra Hull, recorded a track for me," he announced.

"Banjo player Ron Block, who has played with Alison Krauss for 20 years. guitarists Chartlie T. Smith and Cody Kilby. Matt Rollings, a renowned pianist, subsequently consented to perform.

He's collaborated on records with artists like Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash.

It is simply insane.

The musicians who consented to work with Samuel have won 27 Grammys between them.

Rollings said Samuel is an inspiration and he was "honored to be a small part" of the project. ".

"He is a living example of what it means to be an artist.

Here is a man who, despite the most challenging circumstances, puts his entire being into the process.

And then a stunning work of art emerges from this. ".

Engineer Brandon Bell, who most recently won a Grammy for his work with Brandi Carlile, mixed the finished album, In The Springtime, in Nashville.

The release date is June 28, and all sales will benefit Parkinson's UK.

A photo of Samuel Smith
Samuel expressed his desire for his tale to convey "a really strong message.".

George Smith, Samuel's late uncle, was a talented amateur musician who recorded some backing vocals just before he passed away. Samuel has dedicated the song to him.

In doing so, he hopes to spark a larger discussion about the value of creativity and the arts.

He said, "Doing this has helped me so much.

Additionally, I hope it motivates others to pick up a pen, take a walk, or sing in the shower.

It's challenging. It may be extremely challenging. However, it is possible.

"I also hope that my story conveys a really strong message.

. "

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