I’m very excited to announce that a new album, my first to be released in six years, is due to be launched, digitally at least, in December. I’m producing the album myself and while it’s devoted, like my previous effort, to musical settings of famous English poetry, this one is different in that it is dedicated to the work of a single poet. The album will be called “In Ten Thousand Places: Where Hillis Meets Hopkins” and will feature seven musical settings of seven well-known poems by the Victorian Jesuit priest and poet Gerard manley Hopkins (1844-1889.) These include: “God’s Grandeur,” “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” and “Pied Beauty,” to name only a few.
My first taste of Hopkins’s work was in a first-year English Literature class in University. At the time, I found the poetry both intellectually frustrating and also poetically sublime. Still, he lay untouched by me for several years. Indeed, I never even considered his poetry as suitable to be set to my simple tunes, because I felt it too high and beautiful for me to mar in that way. It was something to be cherished and savoured when I needed spiritual solace, not to be touched by me, lest my ungentle musical hand destroy it. However, a dear friend of mine sent me a couple of Hopkins poems to try my hand at back in 2011, and the rest, as they say, is history. In fact, it is this friend to whom I intend to dedicate the album, as it is due to his encouragement and also his prayers that I have again found my voice and a way to use it to honour a poet whose words have stayed with me and have, at many turns in life, called me home when I was lost.
More details of the album’s release will be forthcoming, so stay tuned to this site for news!