AMANDA BROADWAY INSPIRES CHANGE WITH “SPREAD LOVE AROUND”
If you close your eyes and listen to the voice of Amanda Broadway, you may reopen them to a new vision. She is a woman who can command the attention of a crowded room with the sound of her voice. She’s not a politician, public speaker, or pundit of any kind. By trade, she’s a singer/songwriter, and it is with those talents and a heavy heart that she was moved to make something happen. Amanda lives her life immersed in the music scene in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a gifted songwriter with a voice that sounds authentic in many genres. Singing background vocals, she adds soulful enrichment to a song. Center stage, she has the voice and the presence of a leading lady. Backed by a ten-piece band, she is a siren with a message, a mouthpiece for the heartbreak of the blues, an amplifier with a rock attitude, testifier of the gospel truth, and the audible soul of a funk groove. Her voice is her instrument, an expression of her soul and its connection to the world around her.
The project she’s created, Spread Love Around, started with a song that was a gut reaction to the angst and anger she was feeling. Struggling with some personal issues and overwhelmed by the amount of violence and evil she saw in the world, Amanda found herself in an extended period of depression. Feeling powerless and small, with limited means to fight back and make a difference, she disengaged for lack of a better alternative. When she reemerged from her black and blue period, there was an urgency to channel the emotion of that time into something meaningful. She wrote the song, “Spread Love Around,” at the end of May, saying it came out very easily. Her musical soul blended perfectly with her bruised heart, one pouring out the words and the other supplying the music to accompany her feelings of anger, angst, and sadness. The title and the intent was to inspire a positive message. The translation of those feelings into music came out in a minor key, paying homage to that period of darkness that led to its creation and adding conviction to the ideal.
In early June, Amanda gathered 14 people to perform on the recording of the song at a home studio, appropriately named The Sanctuary. It was formerly a church that was purchased by her boyfriend, Mikie Martel, a portion of which, he transformed into a recording studio. He performed on, recorded, engineered, and mixed the song that Amanda wrote. The others who performed on the song were friends she plays with regularly and people she loves. They donated their time and talent to the project, thereby making it the first positive reaction to the message of the song. She could have gone acoustic with this and made the lone guitar the representative of her personal poignancy. Instead, she added voices and instruments to her passionate plea for a robust sound that nearly masks the scolding tucked inside this bluesy, gospel rendition with a funk groove.
If you read the title of this song and know nothing about its context, you may expect some version of a hippie folk song with a “Make love, not war” message. When the first thing you hear is a funk beat and the hint of a horn section, you know something a little more sophisticated is about to happen. Amanda puts her soul in these blues, and the voice that comes out is a silky smooth Etta James intent on telling you what’s what. It’s a gentle reminder on the verge of a sermon. The gospel choir that chimes in isn’t there for a hallelujah. They ask the tough questions followed by a sharp burst from the horn section to let you know they expect an answer. The funk groove that’s present throughout the song catches itself from wallowing in the blues with gentle reminders from the horns. The instrumental sections between chorus and verse keep the mood light, with a gentle prodding towards the upbeat feeling it wants to leave you with. On the chorus, Amanda and the gospel choir switch roles. They lift their voices in a nearly prayerful reminder of what’s right, while Amanda comes in behind them strongly suggesting we stay on the right side of wrong. She says she was chiding even herself in this with a reminder that there’s a choice to do something or nothing. Both can have significant ramifications. The song ends with her voice fading into the distance, going out on the high side of the blues. The supporting choir and instruments send her off on the peaceful, encouraging notes of solidarity in a common cause. One sound. One strength. One spirit.
*The horn section is: from l. to r. – Mikie Martel (flugelhorn), Ben Clark (trumpet), Jody Douglas (sax).
*Rhythm section tracking: from l. to r. – Shane Lamb (guitarist on the floor), Amanda Broadway, Mikie Martel (bass), Andy Wilmoth (percussion), James Bonomo (drums), Kent Toalson (keys), Sam Farkas (guitar).
Just days after the song was recorded, the shootings in South Carolina became front page news and same sex marriage was legalized. The world was still tumultuous and reactionary, positive and negative. The recording sessions for “Spread Love Around” were taped, and Amanda decided that adding a video to the project was the logical next step to expand its reach and encourage involvement. She asked people to submit clips of themselves or others spreading love around to be included in the video. In the end, over 100 people contributed to the finished product. It was a group effort with a big message. In addition to that message, Amanda chose to lead by example and put her money where her mouth is, or in this case, her voice. What better way to SPREAD LOVE AROUND than by donating the profits from the project to charity?
*Choir vocals recording session: from l. to r. – Mikie Martel, Lane Abernathy, Amber Woodhouse, Yvonne Smith, Amanda Broadway, Trista Mabry, Alicia Michilli, and Maureen Murphy.
Her boyfriend’s father, Paul Martel, founded the humanitarian organization known as FIBUSPAM in 2007. Their dedicated mission is this:
“Our mission is to deliver integrated health care and humanitarian support to children and adults of limited economic resources in Ecuador. Our services are free and are available to all regardless of race or religion. Our patients are treated with respect and receive quality, compassionate medical care. We are dedicated to supporting the physical and social well-being of Ecuadorian families.”
Their work is largely done in Chimborazo Province with an indigenous population that suffers from widespread poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness. They’ve also been able to extend their humanitarian outreach to those in other areas, some extremely remote, through mobile medical caravans. To date, they have treated over 25,000 patients and impacted countless lives by “improving health and inspiring hope.” They are achieving real world results from the very action Amanda sings about, SPREAD LOVE AROUND. For more information about the amazing work they do, to volunteer or donate to the cause, visit their website at http://fibuspam.org/.
*The picture above is Paul Martel with a child in the community of Ibarra, which is in the north of Ecuador on the Colombian border. He, like many of the people in that community, is a refugee from the violence in Colombia.
To further her efforts and the impact of SPREAD LOVE AROUND, Amanda has created merchandise in addition to the download available on iTunes and through other digital music retailers. Through her online store, you can purchase the song on CD as well as a poster or t-shirt with the SPREAD LOVE AROUND logo on it. Again, the proceeds from all sales will benefit the FIBUSPAM organization and their humanitarian efforts in Ecuador. Merchandise is available here: https://amandabroadway.bandcamp.com/merch. To purchase the song through iTunes, click here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/spread-love-around-single/id1022864409.
When Amanda Broadway chose to turn her angst into action, she chose the muse that lives in her soul, music. She said she was tired of music that didn’t say anything and longed for that which makes you feel something. Through the lyrics and thoughtful music composition, she has achieved both with this song. The words are an honest reflection of how she was feeling at the time she wrote it. The minor key gives those feelings proper tone. Choosing the combination of gospel with a blues bent, in a sanctuary of funk groove, the listener is inspired to act rather than become mired in hopeless observation. Listening to this song after hearing Amanda’s inspiration for its creation, I thought how easy it would have been for her to sit in a darkened corner and sing the blues, a natural reaction to her state of mind. Instead, I pictured her walking amongst the crowd in a place like New York City, the din of world news ever present in Times Square, and everyone going about their business rife with inertia. Disgusted, yet inspired, she would return to The Sanctuary in Nashville and write her song. She chose inspiration and action over detachment and hopelessness. One person. One simple act. One desire to change the world. Follow her lead and SPREAD LOVE AROUND.
Visit Amanda Broadway’s website for more information on SPREAD LOVE AROUND, her shows, and her music: http://www.amandabroadway.com/spreadlovearound/.
Paul Martel and Executive Director, David Guacho, visiting with their very first surgical patient, post-op, in one of their six beds.
One person can make a difference. http://fibuspam.org/
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