FIVE FOR FIGHTING

* Your musical inspirations?

Beatles, Elton, Billy, Stevie Wonder, Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, Zepplin, Tom Waits, The Who

* Favorite CD's, songs, or musicians?

Tommy, Heart of Saturday Night, Grace, Nevermind, Tapestry

* Has music helped you thru a difficult time in your life?

It has been that cathartic element that's allowed me to maintain relative sanity

* Your thoughts on the connection between, music and healing-

I saw first hand playing the concert from NY that music can transcend and bring solace and comfort in a way that is unique to it's medium. When the Who played, the release of the emergency workers was something I'll never forget.


FIVE FOR FIGHTING

Two Lights

It requires considerable artistic agility to write deeply personal songs that also reflect the broader world. That's just what platinum certified Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter John Ondrasik with his band Five For Fighting has consistently accomplished on each of his previous CD's. Now with Two Lights, his new Aware/Columbia release, John delivers his most personal album to date, creating nothing less than an American family portrait.

John's Grammy-nominated song "Superman (It's Not Easy)," from the America Town CD, was already a hit when 9/11 happened. Afterwards, the song became a spiritual national anthem, and John joined superstar headliners Mick Jagger, Elton John, Paul McCartney and others for the post-9/11 fund-raiser The Concert for New York. "Here's a kid just getting over shock of hearing himself on radio for first time," recalls John, "sitting at a piano in Madison Square Garden playing a song that seems to provide solace to the emergency workers and their families. Half way through, seeing these burly firefighters with tears rolling down their faces: it was the most important thing I'll ever do musically."

In 2004 he recorded The Battle For Everything, which yielded the hit "100 Years," once again proving Ondrasik's ability to craft inspirational songs with a social message. "It means a lot as a writer when your songs find their way into everyday lives," he says. "To hear mp3s of 100 Years' sung at graduations, or to speak to folks about how certain songs helped out, inspires me to keep on swinging."

Two Lights should yield no less. Produced by John and band mates Curt Schneider (bass, guitars) and Andrew Williams (guitars), the album was inspired in part by conversations John had with ordinary Americans. Cops and cruisers, soldiers and surfers all have a place in John's America. Overall the CD is classic Americana, grittier and riskier than his previous work. That's especially so on songs like "California Justice" and the darkly comic "Policeman's Xmas Party," both based on real events.

Yet he also touches unflinchingly on the personal. The CD's debut single "The Riddle" is a song he wrote for his children, while the companion video features his beloved blue Mustang (a car passed down to John from his father and the inspiration for the song "65 Mustang). Says John of the single, "A lot of my songs touch on mortality, but at its heart it's a love song from a father to his son."

The father-son motif is most poignantly expressed in "Two Lights," a song that came to John after having dinner with a young soldier, bound for Iraq, and the soldier's father, a Vietnam veteran. "I talked with the kid's father," John remembers. "In that moment, I saw a mixture of pride and fear in the old man's eyes. I wanted to write a song that talked about the reality of how these parents feel. The simple thing of 'Two Lights' is two lives: the father's and the son's. That's what inspired this song, the look of pride and fear in a father's eye."

Whatever subject he tackles, John's music is always infused with an empathetic spirit and sung in one of the most richly distinctive voices in contemporary pop. Still, the new CD may surprise those unaccustomed to the sharper edge of John's musical persona. "Producing is rewarding but also an extra slice of pain and suffering," he says. "Songs like The Riddle' and California Justice' are 90 percent craft, whereas others like Road to Heaven' and I Just Love You' are essentially live takes. In either case, the band has to be in the room, the clock has to be turned off, and the red light (or hard drive)...blinking."

John Ondrasik was born in L.A.'s sprawling San Fernando Valley, and grew up in a musical family. At two, he began studying piano and later added guitar. He majored in Math at UCLA, but his heart was always in music. His hard work paid off, and today he's right where he wants to be: a working touring musician with a great family to come home to. "Being in a band," he says, "you spend a lot of months on a bus rolling through America. Unless you do that you don't' have a sense of the expanse and the differences that make it so great. My music just comes from my experience putting the miles on tires."

Over the last year, John has also been busy working on music for films. He wrote, produced and performed "The Best," the main title song for the upcoming animated baseball-comedy feature Everyone's Hero (he also teamed up with country greats Brooks & Dunn to co-write "Keep On Swinging" for the same film). For the movie August Rush, John produced and wrote "Break," which is performed on screen by the actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Although primarily known for performing his own compositions, John also recorded a compelling new version of the classic Jimmy Webb composition, "All I Know" (a chart-topping pop hit song for Art Garfunkel in 1973), for the hit Walt Disney Pictures Film, Chicken Little.

But right now, Two Lights remains first and foremost in his musical life; that, and reaching out to an ever-expanding audience of admirers, whether in a darkened concert hall or on an iPod during morning rush hour. "I just try to get better as a songwriter," he says. "That's all I can do: try to write things that matter. At the end of the day all you can do is say what you believe."
www.fiveforfighting.com
www.myspace.com/fiveforfighting

KATE HAVNEVIK

* Your musical inspirations?

I get inspired by a lot of different things in life. It can be everything from a conversation, a film or a sentence in a newspaper. It is quite natural for me to write music, with or without words. The best way for me to write to sit down by the piano or with the guitar and start playing something and sing to it, the song takes shape the more I do it. Sometimes the words come first sometimes last. There is no one-way to create music for me. And I can get just as inspired, probably more, being in my room all day than being in town with lots of people around me.

* Favorite CD's, songs, or musicians?

I really like the Icelandic band Sigur Ros and their new album Takk (it means Thank you!)is amazing and one of my favourite tracks on the album is ‘Hoppipolla’.

I love most of the Radiohead albums, but I think there are some songs on their album ‘Amnesiac’ that especially appeals to me, songs like ‘You & Whose Army’, ‘Knives Out’, ‘Pyramid song’, and ‘Morning Bell’. There is something very touching about the moods, the sounds and melodies and the lyrics are quite dark.

The French singer and actor Sebastien Tellier is quite a character. His music and voice is sensitive and very melodic and the song ‘La Ritournelle’ is one of my favourites of his. I love how this song has so much drive it could go on forever, it’s a bit of a journey.

Rufus Wainwright, I love his albums ‘Want One’ and ‘Want Two’.

I absolutely love the song ‘Hey Ya!’ by Outcast, This song always makes me happy, I just want to get up and dance!!!

I like a lot of classical music and Erik Satie’s

‘3 Gymnopedies’ is high on my list. The simplicity of these compostions are absolutely beautiful.

Another song that always touches me is ‘Horses’ by Tori Amos from her album ‘Boys For Pele’ which is my favourite album of hers.

* Has music helped you thru a difficult time in your life?

Music has helped me through many difficult times in my life, both listening to music and creating music. Writing music started as a natural and necessary outlet for me to express myself. I would disappear into this world of music and by doing that I would feel better and more complete.

* Your thoughts on the connection between music and healing-

I think music can have a bigger impact on people than we think. Music is being used all around us making people relax or get comfortable. My mother is a music therapist and I have learned and experienced that people can get more connected with themselves through sounds and music. It can open doors for people who have difficulties reaching out and expressing themselves. Music can bring you to a different level emotionally. My mother works mainly with disabled people and the sounds and music they hear or participate in making can sometimes make them feel things they have never felt before.

A different way of healing though music is basically people who have been through some though times and feel that music lets them release their pain.

KATE HAVNEVIK

Kate Havnevik began her musical career wanting to be a classical- and jazz guitar player, but then at 14 she changed her mind took a u-turn and joined an all female punk band rehearsing and playing at Oslo’s illegally occupied punk HQ, Blitz.

Kate Havnevik has a unique voice, which explores both the very deep and high reaches of her extraordinary vocal range. Her music is melodic, occasionally dramatic, but always very cool. With a touch of programming mixed with conventionally recorded instruments she creates the perfect sound-scape to dress her songs and voice.

Kate is a skilled musician and plays the guitar and the piano as well as the melodica. She uses these instruments mostly for writing and recording purposes, but sometimes plays them at gigs to enhance the live experience.

Recently, Kate Havnevik has come out of the recording studio and has started playing live gigs. Last year she played a successful gig at LA’s famous Viper Room. She also recorded a live session at the independent LA Radio station, KCRW, a personal request of Nick Harcourt, for his renowned music program Morning Becomes Eclectic. This was a follow up to her success on KCRW last year when she reached no. 5 on the station’s charts, with her demo “Breathe Deeper”.

Kate Havnevik has recently been writing with artists such as Moby, Röyksopp, Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) & Tom Middleton.

Kate Havnevik has been working closely with writer/producer Guy Sigsworth and quite a few of her songs are a result of this excellent collaboration.

Other producers who have added to her sound are Yoad Nevo, Valgeir Sigurdsson, Paul Statham, Carmen Rizzo and Marius De Vries.
www.katehavnevik.com
www.myspace.com

NILES THOMAS

* Your musical inspirations?

I'm highly attracted to emotion and how music can evoke so many kinds
of feelings within. Being moved by either a chordal progression,
melody, a lyric, or all three at once is quite powerful. I'm inspired
by being able to tap into that creative outlet to serve my own emotions
as well as touching others on this musical journey that I've created
from within. When someone is attracted and/or touched by my music, it
is truly a humbling feeling. I'm quite grateful in that respect.

* Favorite CD's, songs, or musicians?

I began music at the tender age of 13 or so. I was highly influenced
by Sting and The Police and had worked quite hard during my adolescence
to be what I considered great songwriters like that of Sting, Peter
Gabriel, Robbie Robertson, INXS, U2, and the like. Over the last 10 or
12 years, I've been highly influenced by Sade, Seal, and Leonard Cohen.

I can't say that I have a favorite song, CD, or artist, but rather,
I'm simply touched, influenced, and inspired by my idea of good
song-writing and performing.

I still have a long way to go, but I feel as though I'm getting better
and closer to my goals with each new song I write.

* Has music helped you thru a difficult time in your life?

Absolutely. In fact, music is the only remedy during my trials and
tribulations. I've recently went through a difficult period of my
life; in fact, it was just earlier this year. I completely alienated
myself from my friends and loved ones so that I wouldn't bring them
into my world of darkness. As a result, my new song entitled "Walking
Alone" emerged. If I'm not in a creative mood during any particular
troubled time in my life, then I've definitely turned to certain songs
from favorite artists of mine to get me through. Again, music is
extremely powerful for all of us and without it, I think we as a people
would be completely lost.

* Your thoughts on the connection between music and healing-

Music can be quite helpful in a healing process, however, I don't know
if I necessarily believe that it can cure one's problems. Depending
upon the kind of music you listen to in order to get you through a
troubled time, may be able to help you sit inside yourself and analyze
whatever the problem may be, but not solve it. I'm of the belief that
one can not truly heal without solving the problem from within.

NILES THOMAS BIO

Niles Thomas has a haunting and sultry voice that lies somewhere between romance and darkness, woven into smooth, down-tempo chill music.

Collaborating with two-time GRAMMY nominated producer-programmer, Carmen Rizzo (Seal, Coldplay, Alanis Morrisette, Kate Havnevik, Paul Oakenfold, Delerium) and featuring Keyboardist, Jamie Muhoberac (Seal, Bush, Faith Hill, Alanis Morrisette, Bob Dylan), to create a sensuous poetic and soothing musical experience, Niles Thomas' music is well on its way to whispering itself into the ears of new listeners around the world.

This music stirs up a unique blend of sophistication, romance, and style.

Niles has been honing in on his skills as a musician and songwriter for quite some time. Being proficient with the guitar, bass, a bit of piano, and programming on the computer, has enabled him to record most of the music on his own up until his recent collaboration with Carmen. "I just can't do it anymore", says Niles. "I've spent the last 4 or 5 years writing, recording, and playing every instrument at my home studio, but when you're that close to the music and have no other outside influences or opinions, it's easy to lose what it is you set out for. I had completely lost site of my direction."

"In my first meeting with Carmen, I remember saying ... I'll put all my trust in you. In fact, I don't want to be around while you and Jamie are doing your thing. Looking back on it, they probably didn't want and/or need me to anyway (LOL). We figured out which songs to record, I gave him some of the music files that I already recorded and the charts. I new we were on the same page with respects to the direction of the material, so why not give free reign."

"Two or three weeks later, Carmen emails me the MP3's of what had been completed thus far. Upon my first listen, I simply wept. The tracks were everything I could have dreamed of and more. All I had to do now was go back in and re-record the vocals to match the new vibe of the music. It all came together so seamlessly, it's still a little hard to swallow."

Niles will be releasing this new 4-song EP currently entitled, "Steps", as a limited edition release by the end of 2006.

www.nilesthomas.com/
www.myspace.com/nilesthomas

FIONA PEARS

* Your musical inspirations?

There are so many that it is hard to name a few. I know that my Mother was a large influence as she is a Piano teacher and introduced me to music from the time that I was in her womb. At an early age I listened to a lot of Records like “Pictures at an Exhibition”,Yeudhi Menuhin’s old recordings and a lot of 50’s and 60’s Rock and Roll. Also many different classical recordings of various concerto’s.. I found that the late jazz violinist Stephane Grapelli was a musician who inspired me in my teenage years along with violinist Roby Lakatos. I really listen to so much different music that it is hard to pinpoint what my biggest influence is.. I guess that Celtic/Latin music is one style that has had a big impact on my compositions. I buy a lot of “Rough Guide” and Putumayo world music CD’s and also groups like Salsa Celtica and the Frames and Focus.

* Favourite CD's, songs, or musicians?

I also love singers such as Eva Cassidy, Aretha Franklin, Kate Bush, Cassandra Wilson, Jeff Buckley, Jacques Brel and Sting.. Some of my favourite instrumentalists are Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden, Joshua Bell, Jean-Luc Ponty and heaps of others....

* Has music helped you thru a difficult time in your life?

Yes.... Big time! I hit a rock bottom due to things that were out of control in my life and thought that I would never perform on the violin again. I never stopped listening to music when I was having problems and I think that this was a way of keeping my spirits up when the going got very tough. I stopped performing for a few years and this was a lonely time, looking back I can see how music was a way for me to communicate. After I started to get better I will never forget my first performance in public. I remember being happier than I had been in a long time. I guess that I need to perform as much as I need to listen as this is such a huge part of who I am. I have been back performing for 8 years now and I have proved my own negative thoughts wrong. It has been amazing to get more and more confidence over the last few years and end up performing in venues around the world that I could only have dreamed about a few years ago.... I live life one day at a time now and really look forward to what the future brings..

* Your thoughts on the connection between music and healing-

The thing about music is that you can escape in a healthy way and feel free and happy.. I believe that we heal through the music that we love.. This is different for a lot of people but there is so much beauty in many different forms of music, we just have to be open to it..

FIONA PEARS BIO

Virtuoso New Zealand violinist Fiona Pears has spent the last few years performing at prestigious venues around the world. She already has a large fan base in New Zealand following the release of her three CDs and DVD which feature her own unique compositions.

Fiona’s early career as a musician saw her perform concertos with the New Zealand Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Christchurch Youth Orchestra, winning two national secondary school music competitions, one in piano and the other in violin.

She has opened for artists such as Tony Bennett, Ottmar Liebert and the late Victor Bourge. Fiona has also recorded for many artists around NZ including Hayley Westenra and Bic Runga.

Fiona has been based in the UK since mid 2004 and has already performed at most of the major concert halls there with various international artists. She has also been busy recording with classical artists such as, Hayley Westenra, Aled Jones, Libera and The Choirboys for the Universal and EMI labels, alongside recording her own rendition of the theme from, “Schindler’s List,” for BBC1s “Songs of Praise.”

In September 2005 Fiona performed her compositions at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire receiving an overwhelming audience reaction. She also co-arranged three of her pieces for full orchestra and performed them with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in November of that year.

Fiona returned to New Zealand in December 2005 to several sell-out concerts around the South Island, which culminated in headlining the Nelson Jazz festival during Jan 2006 to an audience of over 5,000 people. Following this she supported and accompanied Hayley Westenra on her nationwide tour of NZ to rave reviews.


When Fiona returned to London in 2006 she joined Heather Nova on her European tour, performing her own pieces as well as joining Heather on stage, this time filling the role of lead guitarist on the violin! This tour gave Fiona the opportunity to reach an entirely new audience. The response she received from her part of the shows has been incredible, not only did she sell out of CDs and DVDs during the tour; she has subsequently acquired a large and dedicated fan base throughout Europe.

Following this tour, Fiona returned to the UK to complete her third album, “Memories of Home,” working alongside UK producer Ian Tilley, (known for his work with artists on the Universal and EMI labels).

This album contains fourteen tracks and features ten new compositions, which Fiona describes as her, “most exciting, enjoyable and captivating work to date.”

On the 16th July 2006, Fiona staged a UK CD release concert in London playing to a capacity audience. Everyone who was there agreed that this was a very special evening and it was clear from the audience’s reaction that Fiona now has a loyal following in the UK.

July/August 06 - Fiona is on a tour of UK castles with Hayley Westenra and Il Divo, performing to an audience of several thousand each night.

Fiona's latest CD is currently available in the UK. It will be released in NZ and Australia at the end of 2006 and will be accompanied by a tour and festival appearances at the end of 2006, early 2007.
www.fionapears.com
www.myspace.com/fionapears

CATHERINE DUC

* Your musical inspirations?

I enjoy listening to a lot of different genres - from world to trance
to classical. Some of my biggest influences are Enigma, Deep Forest
and Delerium. Film music also inspires me, especially scores by James
Horner and Harry Gregson-Williams. I'm a big Celtic music fan. I've
listed more of my favourite artists at www.myspace.com/catherineduc

* Favorite CD's, songs, or musicians?

5 of my favourite CDs are:
Riverdance - Bill Whelan
The Screen Behind The Mirror - Enigma
Poem - Delerium
Titanic - James Horner
The Chronicles of Narnia - Harry Gregson-Williams

* Your thoughts on the connection between music and healing?

Music really helps me to relax when I'm busy. Listening to music can
make us feel more energetic or calm. When listeners tell me that my
music relaxes them after a hard day at work, I feel great that my music
can uplift them and give them a quick 'soundscape vacation'. These
days, we are all so busy with the day to day activities - we need some
time each day to focus on ourselves, recharge and gain balance.

I find that Enya's music is very helpful for healing.

CATHERINE DUC

Duc Melds Diverse Influences Into Groundbreaking Electronica Album, Visions and Dreams

Australian musician Catherine Duc melds ancient Celtic melodies with contemporary electronica rhythms, creating a unique and exciting hybrid on Visions and Dreams.

Classically trained but with electronica savvy, Catherine Duc (http://www.catherineduc.com) readily bridges the ancient with the up to date on her new album, Visions and Dreams. Rarely has the label worldbeat been more appropriate. She brings together musical forms from around the globe and creates a bold leap forward for Celtic influenced New Age and electronica music.

Duc blazes trails for New Age music on her new album, arriving at a novel and intoxicating blend of Celtic and ambient music. This is music to take note of. It doesn't merely recede and become background sound. Instead, the layers and juxtapositions provide food for the mind while providing rest for the soul. Duc composed and performed all tracks on Visions and Dreams using the latest multitracking techniques to create the vibrant Celtic soundscapes. The album was mastered by Toby Learmont at Sony Music Australia and is being distributed by The Orchard.

In 2002, Duc won the electronica prize in a national competition organized by Philips in Australia. A classically trained pianist, Duc studied recording and production at the Concert Hall in Melbourne. She recently earned a diploma in film music composition from the London School of Creative Studies.

"Fusing world music with electronica has become quite popular," Duc said. "Often artists choose Middle Eastern or African themes. I was interested in the possibilities of mixing Celtic motifs with ambient, trance and electronica."

So far, critical response has been overwhelmingly positive. R.J. Lannan of New Age Reporter said "Visions and Dreams...is an amazing amalgam of Ambient, Celtic and World themes." Arsenio Orteza of the Times for Acadiana cited "...the verve that Catherine Duc brings to a genre that's now more than a quarter century old." Dene Bebbington, Melliflua said "It's clearly an album by someone who knows where they're coming from in terms of influences, and who knows how to make use of it in their own style."

Autographed copies of Visions and Dreams are available from http://www.catherineduc.com. The genre busting album fusing electronica with Celtic music is also on sale online through Amazon.com and CDBaby.com and at online and retail outlets (USA) of Sam Goody, Tower Records, Circuit City, Target and Virgin Megastore.    Author: Tom Pratt, PRWeb
www.catherineduc.com
www.myspace.com/catherineduc

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