New Rick BIO & Hushabye Profile

 

(Many thanks to my hard-working media promoter, Randall Davis, for this new BIO of me & profile of Hushabye! -RS)

HUSHABYE (2019) 

(Greenville, SC – 6/11/19) Pianist and composer Rick Sparks is well-known to fans of new-age and neo-classical music for his trademark peaceful, melodic songs featuring piano layered with stunning string arrangements, augmented with soft angelic voices with wordless vocalizations. This combination is perfect for his latest album, Hushabye, created specifically to help listeners with relaxation, meditation and sleep.

“Many of my friends and fans have told me for years that they use my music to relax after a hard day, enjoy some down time or to help their children or themselves get to sleep,” explains Sparks. “With that in mind, I wanted to record an album of soothing music that both adults and children could relax to. I wanted the songs on this album to feel like a favorite soft pillow.”

The wordless vocals on Hushabye were prompted in part by Rick’s love of Brian Wilson’s vocal arrangements with the Beach Boys. According to Rick, “Brian always said he used three-part vocal harmonies because to his ear, it 'sounded like angels.' I took that to heart by using angelic-sounding wordless voices singing multi-part harmonies. The voices on Hushabye also remind me of the pure tones of an English boys’ choir.”

Hushabye, subtitled “Sail Away to Dreamland,” is Sparks’ sixth album and contains nine new original tunes, along with his instrumental arrangements of the million-selling pop hit “Love Can Make You Happy” by the 1960’s group Mercy, as well as the classic children’s song “Jesus Loves Me.”  In addition to piano, strings and voices, the music also includes the sounds of a flute. Piano is Sparks’ featured instrument, but he is an adept arranger who uses synthesizer to give his music layers, textures, colors and additional depth.

More information on Rick Sparks is available at his website (www.RickSparksMusic.net). His CDs -- Hushabye, Half Moon Bay, Nightfall London, Matilda’s Flowers, Endless and Christmas Love -- and digital download tracks from those recordings are available online from CD Baby, Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify, Alexa, YouTube and many other outlets.

Since 2014, Rick’s recordings have received strong airplay on hundreds of radio stations and channels around the world, including SiriusXM’s Spa channel.  Half Moon Bay(2018) went to #4 and both Endless (2014) and Nightfall London (2017)rose to #7 on the prestigious international Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Chart that specifically monitors new-age music. Half Moon Bay paid homage to the ocean and the music of Brian Wilson, while Nightfall London did a similar honor to England and legendary producer George Martin.

THE SONGS OF HUSHABYE

The first song on Hushabye is “My Soul to Keep” (the title is taken from the child’s bedtime prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep”). Rick says, “I love Brian Wilson’s choice to begin his Smile album with a lovely acapella prayer, so I decided to use a similar brief angelic prayer on this album to begin the listener’s journey to dreamland.

“Love Can Make You Happy” follows. According to Rick, “This is a favorite song of mine from 1969, the year of Woodstock’s ‘three days of peace and music.’ All these years later, the need for love and peace is greater than ever.”

Several of the other song titles on the album follow the themes of love and peace. “My song ‘Dreams of Peace’ could be taken either as dreaming of peace or as peaceful dreams.  ‘Little Flower,’ with its Oriental flavor, was inspired by the title song from the 1967 film ‘You Only Live Twice.’ The title ‘No Greater Love’ came from Jesus’ teaching in John 15:13 -- ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’.”

“When the Stars Come Out,” which includes flute, is “another slumber song.”  The song “Jesus Loves Me” is “the first hymn many of us learned as children, voicing a simple but profound truth.”  A longtime pilot, Sparks loves flying, “especially when you find yourself among billowy white clouds. It’s an otherworldly beauty, the realm of angels, thus the title ‘Cloud Pillow’ with its angel-voice harmonies.”

The song “And She Dreams” was directly inspired by the CD back-cover photograph of a little girl peacefully sleeping. Rick says, “For all the little ones, sleeping and dreaming should be a time of peace, safety and love.”  Another inspiration when writing the acapella voice hymn “Angel Song,” was the music of English composer Vaughan Williams. Finally, Rick says that he “closed the album with ‘We Are Loved’ because it was a nice assurance to know that we are all loved, both by God and those around us.  It’s a great sentiment that I hope fills both our dreams and our waking hours.”

Rick Sparks’ musical influences have been many and diverse: coming from a musical family, getting his B.A. degree in broadcasting from the University of Tennessee, being an FM-radio DJ in the 1970s and 1980s, earning Masters degrees in music and communication and a Ph.D. in communication, programming a leading on-line new-age music station (The Cove on Live365.com), and having a college teaching career.  His tastes in music are varied and includes pop music, jazz and new age.  Rick’s musical career has included accompanying on-stage legendary artists such as The 5th Dimension's Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., gospel great Alvin Slaughter of Brooklyn Tabernacle, andAmerican Idol finalist Phil Stacey.

According to Rick, “My utmost desire as an artist is to create music that feeds the soul, that inspires and uplifts. I totally embrace the power of music to fill our lives with beauty.”

Testing his music on friends, Sparks says, “The consensus is that my music is very relaxing, ideal to leave on while you’re sleeping. A friend of ours plays it throughout the night for his six-month-old son – it works great! Another friend who is 94-years-old often uses my music to help him get to sleep. I’m hopeful that the music on Hushabye will not only be enjoyable to listen to while you’re awake, but can serve as a great soundtrack to your dreams as well.”

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Radio Promotion/Publicity: The Creative Service Company thecreativeservicecompany.com

Randall Davis (CreatServ9@aol.com) & Ruthe Forbriger (cscRuthe@aol.com) 719-548-9872

 

Free download from Hushabye!

 

To celebrate the release of Hushabye, we are making the first song on the album available as a FREE download!

You can download My Soul to Keep here: http://ricksparksmusic.net/ricks_music_st…/s/my_soul_to_keep

Just as Brian Wilson began his Smile album with an acapella prayer by the Beach Boys, My Soul to Keep starts the listener’s journey to dreamland with a wordless angelic prayer. The title comes from the child’s bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”

Enjoy!

 

Hushabye: The Songs

 

Hushabye: The Songs

My hard-working media promoter, Randall Davis, describes Hushabye as “quiet lullabies perfect for relaxing, meditating & dreaming.” Hushabye is, without a doubt, my most peaceful album ever, a tapestry of strings, piano, flute & angelic voices.

Besides the fact that several of our friends use my music to help their children (& themselves) get to sleep, Hushabye’s sweet back cover picture of a little girl sleeping inspired me throughout the production. It helped give a peaceful consistency to the songs which I originally meant as a sleep album for little ones. In the end, Hushabye became more than that, but the songs remain a great way for listeners to “sail away to dreamland.”

1) My Soul to Keep. I love Bryan Wilson’s choice to begin his Smile album with a lovely acapella prayer, using the Beach Boys’ amazing 3-part harmony which Brian always said “sounds like angels.” I began Hushabye the same way, with a brief angelic prayer to start the listener’s journey to dreamland. The title is a phrase from the child’s bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”

2) Love Can Make You Happy. This is one of two cover songs on the album, a favorite of mine from 1969 and a sweet love song to set the musical stage for Hushabye. The voices add great emotion to this & all the songs, using the 3-part harmony of angel voices. My piano lead is simple but sufficient, mirroring my approach in all my work as a composer and arranger.

3) Dreams of Peace. So much of our lives is spent looking for peace, in the world & in our hearts. The phrase “dreams of peace” could be taken as dreaming of peace, or peaceful dreams. As a Christian, I credit my faith in Jesus Christ for the peace in my music and my life.

4) Little Flower. The lovely title song from the 1967 film You Only Live Twice inspired me to lend a touch of the Orient to Hushabye with Little Flower. The title is a reference to the Japanese love of flowers, as well as to a little child.

5) No Greater Love. This is one of my favorite songs on Hushabye, with achingly beautiful melody, strings & vocal harmonies. The title is from Jesus’ teaching in John 15:13 - “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

6) When the Stars Come Out. Another slumber song welcoming the listener to dreamland, with flute, piano, strings and angelic voices. In the final musical phrase, you can almost hear the words, “And now it’s time for bed.”

7) Jesus Loves Me. The first hymn many of us learned as children, voicing a simple but profound truth. Love is a recurring theme on Hushabye – this song was a natural for the album.

8) Cloud Pillow. I fell in love with flying long before becoming a pilot. To fly is to be immersed in otherworldly beauty, especially when you find yourself among billowy white clouds. Too, we usually think of the realm of angels as being “up there,” so angel voice harmonies, strings and the imagery of flying among clouds make for a great slumber song.   

9) And She Dreams. This song was directly inspired by the album’s sweet back cover picture of a little girl sleeping. For all the little ones, dreams should be a place of peace, safety & love.

10) Angel Song. On reflection, I think I was influenced to write this acapella voice hymn by the lovely music of the English composer Vaughan Williams, as well as by the beautiful pure tones of an English boys’ choir. Much of Hushabye probably reflects those two influences.

11) We Are Loved. I closed the album with the assurance that we are all loved, by God and (probably more than we know) those around us. May all our dreams as well as our waking hours be filled with the beautiful assurance that we are loved.

 

HUSHABYE COMPLETE: "SAIL AWAY TO DREAMLAND!"

 

It's official: production work on Hushabye is complete!

After 4 months & 250+ hours of evenings & weekends in my home studio, my most peaceful album ever is now available in Rick's Music Store on this website, and all the major digital outlets (iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, etc.), with CDs available for purchase soon. 

Hushabye is now in the hands of my media promoter, the hard-working Randall Davis of The Creative Service Company. Randall will be distributing Hushabye to about 300 outlets worldwide for airplay on both broadcast & online radio stations/channels. 

After listening to all the songs & seeing the incredibly beautiful cover (a sailboat navigating the stars), Randall Davis suggested the perfect tagline for Hushabye: “Sail away to dreamland.” His description of the album is also perfect: “Peaceful angelic lullabies for relaxing, meditating & dreaming.”

Without a doubt, Hushabye is my most peaceful album ever, a tapestry of beauty for listeners of all ages. The 9 originals & 2 covers are full of lovely strings, piano, flute & angelic voices. Hushabye's gorgeous melodies and harmonies are sure to gently wind down your day.

Stay tuned for the latest Hushabye news as the album becomes available here on my website as well as Amazon, iTunes, Apple Music, CD Baby & other outlets. Get ready to sail away to dreamland!

 

Hushabye nearly complete!

 

 I'm happy to report that Hushabye is nearing the finish line!

After four months in production & over 250 hours in my home studio, Hushabye contains 11 of my most beautiful songs. And yes, this is my first album designed specifically to put the listener to sleep! I describe it as "gentle sleep music for little (& big) ones."

The precious cover shot of a little girl peacefully sleeping inspired every song, but Hushabye was produced with the intention that all ages will enjoy the music. The songs are gently melodicenhanced by a tapestry of piano, strings, flute, angelic voices & synthesizer pads. 

As with all my albums, I hope the listener will find a place of quiet rest in the music of Hushabye. Official release date is June 1 - we'll keep you posted.

 

Half Moon Bay nominated for Album of Year & Best New Age Album!

 

I received word today that Half Moon Bay has been nominated as Album of the Year AND Best New Age Album in the 2018 One World Music Awards! One of my favorite groups, the iconic 2002, was also nominated in both categories - I'm incredibly honored to be in such company. Award winners will be announced Sunday, June 9th.

I enjoyed every minute of producing Half Moon Bay last summer - the 10 songs represent some of my very best work. The concept for the album was inspired by the musical legacy of the great Brian Wilson - it wouldn't have happened without you, Brian. :)

My special thanks to Steve & Chrissie Sheppard of OWMR for playing & supporting my music. OWMR is Europe's largest online radio station in the genres covered, including contemporary instrumental, neo-classical, ambient, solo piano, acoustic guitar and many others.

2018 ONE WORLD MUSIC RADIO AWARD NOMINEES

Most of all, I'm thankful for the continuing inspiration I receive from the Master Musician, my Lord Jesus - you fill my life with song.

 

Half Moon Bay still strong on OWMR Top-100 album chart!

 

LATEST CHART REPORT: Happy to report that Half Moon Bay is showing staying power in its 5th month on OWMR's (One World Music Radio) Top-100 Album Chart! We just missed the top-20 on January's chart, after peaking at #7 in November.

Heartfelt thanks to Steve & Chrissie Sheppard at OWMR for their marvelous support of my music. OWMR is Europe's #1 radio station for the genres covered, including contemporary instrumental, solo piano, chill and many others.

 

Half Moon Bay qualifies in 2 categories for ZMR Awards!

 

So happy to report that Half Moon Bay has qualified in two categories for the 2018 ZMR Music Awards!

For the 2nd year in a row, our high ZMR world airplay chart position (#4 in September) has qualified us for nomination as Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. We're honored to be included in the judging, as there were so many fine albums released in 2018.

Besides our high chart position, Half Moon Bay garnered great reviews by ZMR & others, so we're hoping for the best! Winners will be announced at the ZMR Music Awards in New Orleans in May. 

2018 ZMR AWARDS 

 

We're one of "Kathy's Favorites" for 2018!

 

We're honored to have Half Moon Bay chosen as one of Kathy Parson's Favorite Albums of 2018. Thanks, Kathy! She wrote that my music "creates feelings of longing and nostalgia while reflecting on the warmth and beauty of past memories. I think I’ve turned into one big puddle, but it sure feels good!" 

Kathy's Favorites 2018

 

NEW SINGLE: Auld Lang Syne

 

JUST RELEASED! My arrangement of the beloved Scottish end-of-year classic, featuring the original melody with bits of the more familiar tune as well. 

Available now for digital download from my Music Store & Amazon, iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and many more!

DOWNLOAD AULD LANG SYNE