Music Through Heartsongs: Songs Based on the Poems of Mattie J.T. Stepanek

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Seth Kaufman
On Music Through Heartsongs, 14-year-old phenom Billy Gilman has teamed up with a contemporary, 14-year-old Mattie J. T. Stepanek, to record a series of songs based on the latter's bestselling poems. Born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy that, tragically, runs in the family -- his mother is similarly afflicted, and the disease has claimed the lives of three of his siblings -- Stepanek confronts his illness through his writing but never falls into self-pity. Rather, he offers a positive, spiritual outlook and encourages others to see the good in the world and in each other. Producer David Malloy enlisted some of Nashville's top tunesmiths to set Stepanek's ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Seth Kaufman
On Music Through Heartsongs, 14-year-old phenom Billy Gilman has teamed up with a contemporary, 14-year-old Mattie J. T. Stepanek, to record a series of songs based on the latter's bestselling poems. Born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy that, tragically, runs in the family -- his mother is similarly afflicted, and the disease has claimed the lives of three of his siblings -- Stepanek confronts his illness through his writing but never falls into self-pity. Rather, he offers a positive, spiritual outlook and encourages others to see the good in the world and in each other. Producer David Malloy enlisted some of Nashville's top tunesmiths to set Stepanek's poems to music, and with Gilman giving them a voice, the resulting collection of meditations is both inspirational and uplifting. The arrangements here underscore the lyrical sentiments, running the gamut from grandiose orchestral pop to Enya-like soundscapes awash in swirling synths, gentle woodwinds, and impressionistic piano fills. "It Happened Anyway," a roaring power ballad in the grand '80s style, doesn't merely mourn the loss of a brother -- it rages at the disease's cruelty and laments its merciless course. "Songs of the Wind" floats atop a lightly strummed ukulele, a lilting Hawaiian melody, and the sound of waves breaking on the seashore, as Gilman tenderly sings of the healing effects of the music of the spheres. Departing from the baroque, "Gift of Color" praises God for all the variety in the world via a funky, slinky groove spiced with keyboard and guitar solos, and a velvety, gospel-style background chorus. Appropriately titled, Heartsongs demands open minds as well as open hearts; thus approached, its bounty is plentiful.
All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Although much was made of Billy Gilman's age when he hit the country charts just after his 12th birthday in 2000, his appeal to listeners was a combination of his youth and his first hit, "One Voice," a child's lament about school violence couched in religious terms. Gilman returned to such unabashedly sentimental material with "Elisabeth" on his second regular album in 2001, and after a two-year break, possibly to let his voice change it has settled into a slightly lower tenor, the about-to-be-15-year-old expands on the theme of that song, which was about a seriously ill girl, by commissioning musical settings for some of the poems of Mattie J.T. Stepanek, another young teenager suffering from muscular dystrophy whose series of life-affirming "heartsongs" books Heartsongs, Journey Through Heartsongs, etc. have made him a best-selling author. Stepanek's poems were not intended to be song lyrics, and the various composers, all Nashville pros, have been forced to write around the words, which nevertheless suffer stretching and enjambment here and there. Gilman offers up his "One Voice" innocent take on the simple-minded, repetitious sentiments "We must celebrate the gift of life," "The gift of color is so beautiful," "Memories are a great gift", adding depth with songs that turn maudlin "It Happened Anyway," about the death of one of Stepanek's brothers and plaintive "I Could...if They Would," about Stepanek's hopes for a cure. Of course, the overhanging threat of death is what it takes to give this material substance; otherwise, it is revealed for what it really is, the vague musings of a not-particularly talented child. You can see why Gilman was attracted to the project, but he might be better off taking on lighter subject matter next time, lest he be typed as the voice of the unbearably earnest.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/15/2003
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 696998695429
  • Catalog Number: 86954

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Billy Gilman Primary Artist
John Jorgenson Electric Guitar
Eric Darken Percussion
Joe Chemay Bass
Bekka Bramlett Background Vocals
Sam Levine Alto Flute, Recorder
David Malloy Background Vocals
Liana Manis Background Vocals
Jerry McPherson Electric Guitar
Wendy Moten Background Vocals
Britt Savage Background Vocals
Michael Spriggs Acoustic Guitar
Jimmy Nichols Piano, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Troy Lancaster Electric Guitar
Alé Lorenzo Ukulele
Tommy Harden Drums
Mickey Jack Cones Electric Guitar, Background Vocals, Overdubs
Angela Bacari Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Bruce Roberts Producer
Charles Calello Producer
Sandy Linzer Producer
Ken Love Mastering
David Malloy Producer
Victoria Russell Creative Producer
Jimmy Nichols String Arrangements
Melanie Shelley Groomer
Tracy Baskette-Fleaner Art Direction
Billy Gilman String Arrangements
Mickey Jack Cones Vocal Engineer
Deb Haus Art Direction, Artist Development
Angela Bacari Producer
Alexis Faith Groomer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 106 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(94)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 106 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Amazing poems

    Mattie write the amazing poems and Billy sing the poems so deep. I really love listening Memory. this is about history. Matty is so smart children!!! his poems should be read by politicus in the world

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    MyAngel4ever March 5 2005

    This Cd is the most heart wrenching thing I've ever heard. And hearing some of the things on this website, oh, I want to smash their heads in! God bless you Mattie, as you now soar in Heaven, and God bless you Billie for singing his words.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Straight from the heart...

    I'm no great fan of Country music, but this CD caught my eye because of the subject matter. It "grabbed my heart" knowing the story behind it. This album is nothing but pure heart. The heart of a terminally ill, now deceased boy, and the heart of another boy, brought together through fate or whatever. Billy Gilman's voice talents may not be the greatest on earth, but he had the guts to take on this project knowing full well it would not be a platinum smasher. But getting these messages out, for other kids, for adults whatever, was important to him and he should be applauded for his efforts. This CD sits in the front of my collection to remember my own good fates, my own and my family's good health and fortune. Mattie's words from his heart are a reminder that we cannot take our gift of life for granted, for in being alive, we are already blessed. Billy's renditions of these poems are amazing. I especially liked Track 9 - The Gift of Color, it showed some daring for him to step outside the "Country" box for a while, it works with the poetry very well. A definite MUST for every collection!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Blessing

    Although Billy Gilman might have been a country singer, he has chosen this project for a reason. Even those who loved Billy Gilman's first records (because they were country) should give this a chance, and listen to the text. This album is not about how catchy the songs are. This album is about the message in the words. Mattie's poems are childish, true. But there is beauty in children, and everyone should be able to see that. I ask that everyone give this album a chance, whether your music preference is country or opera, there is a message in this that needs to be spread around the world. I pitty those who call this album a disappointment for not being able to see that it is a blessing. Both Mattie and Billy are blessings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    THIS IS A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT

    Billy had 3 great CD's .. and then this one came out and it's just really sad how bad it was. His voice changed and the fact that it was not country ruined it and threw his voice off. He should stick to country instead of these poems even though they are good poems .. but billy can do so much better with just country. I would not recommend WASTING YOUR MONEY on this CD, Heartsongs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A complete disappointment

    Gilman had 3 great records, and then this--only a complete smarmball would refer to the irrelevant and trite musings of young Stepanek as "poetry"; they make even worse music--avoid this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Beautiful

    Anyone who can write a bad review about this CD just doesn't get it-life, love, loss, courage, God, faith. God bless Matttie and Billy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Billy Gilman is such a good role model for kids to this day and has been for 3 years!!!

    Billy Gilman is such a good role model and if billy ever reads this I want to tell him I LOVE YOU SO MUCH BILLY AND I WANT TO MARRY YOU!!! But like I said he is a good role model and you never hear anything bad about him. And his new mutured voice sounds soooooo great and when I listened to it I could barely tell it was him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Billy's BIGGEST FAN!!!

    I thought Music through heartsong was a wonderful CD,but come to think of it I thought the same thing about the three CDs before it too. It was a very long wait,but it WAS worth it. Billy's voice changed So much,but now his music sounds even better and he sounds so much more sufisticated!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Music through Heartsongs

    I think this c.d. is amazing! You can really tell the was Billy Gilman exspresses his emotions through the songs... He's enjoying every minute of it and his voice has really developed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    sarrah(#1 billy fan)

    I have loved billy gilman since the day his first CD (one voice) came out. i think it is wonderful how billy is teaming up with mattie and how he is now doing so much for the MDA. i guarantee you will love this CD because it is the best one yet

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This cd is great I love it!!!!! Billy and Mattie have done a great job!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Billy's on Fire

    Billy Gilman's fourth album, "Music Through Heartsongs" is incredible! It's the most amazing work of Billy I've ever seen from him. He put his whole self into this album for his fans. Being one of his big fans, I'd been waiting for (what felt like) forever. And I'm really proud of what Billy accomplished. I'm not to surpirsed by what this boy can do. He's the most inspiring boy I've ever known in my enitre life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Doesn't have a chance!!!!

    I am one of the GREATEST billy Gilman fans here in the Philippines, and its so sad to know that his latest album is not sold here in our country, the only way for me to hear his songs is through this site, although it's only a clip I enjoy all of his songs...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Warning!: ADDICTIVE!!

    This album is sung by the teen phenomenon Billy Gilman and the words by Mattie J.T. Stepanek, unfortunately, who was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy that runs in the family. This album is filled with inspirational lyrics that will touch your heart and fill your eyes with tears. Billy's angelic voice made this album even more worth it of your money and time listening to this best-ever album! 1) For Our World - This is one of my favourite track in this album. This song is about peace and the unique individuality of each and everyone 2) About the Things That Matter - This song reminds mee to cherish everything that I have presently and to share and to be kind to everyone in our life 3) Morning Gift - This song made me wake up early in the morning, and for the first time, I truly tasted the beautiful and peaceful morning! 4) I Am/Shades of Life - This songis his first single out of this album, and I love it! This song shows the differences of everyone and it made me open up my eyes and notice the stunning colours around me that I seldom notice 5) It Happened Anyway - This song is one of my favourite too. This song is about Mattie's brother's death *3 of his brother died of the same disease*. This powerful and emotional song brought tears in my eyes as Billy's powerful vocals made this song alive!! 6) Possession - This lighgt-hearted tempo is great to listen to! This song is about Mattie's feelings bout the disease and his hope of getting cured 7) Songs of the Wind - Listening to this album has made me notice the nature more than I could imagine. This Hawaiin-beat song made me treasure the wind and made me listen to the "music" the wind made! And it's beautiful! 8) Making Real Sense of the Senses - This song is another of my fav! This songs is about appreciating our senses that God gave us and how to treaure them and put them in good use! Great! 9) The Gift of Colour - This song made me love and treasure the colours around me even more!! 10) I Could... If They Would - Another of my top fav! This song is about Mattie's hope and dreams if the world will find a cure! Very very touching!! It will make you cry! 11) About Memories - One of the two songs that Billy composed! This song made me recalled of my previous memories and realised how important memories are! 12) About Watches - The second song that Billy composed! This upbeat song is about Mattie's wish that he will not have too die ("With all these watches on me, It's like having all the time in the world, and never having to think about the end of time or about dying") The cons bout this album is that it has TOO LITTLE songs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You wont regret it, seriously!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    BILLY GILMAN IS AWESOME

    THIS CD ROCKS!!! I LOVE BILLY GILMAN I AM A HUGE FAN THIS CD TOUCHED MY HEART AS IT WILL TOUCH YOURS I HIGHLY RECOOMEND YOU BUY THIS CD. MY FAVORITE SONG IS SHADES OF LIFE. GO BUY THIS CD YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    His Best Work Yet

    I have been a fan of Billy's since "One Voice" and he has continued to improve with each new CD. This is his best work yet and to base this cd from the poems of Mattie J.T. Stepanek is truly inspirational. I highly recommend this CD!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    BIlly Sucks Now with the voice change

    i dont like billy's new CD. I his singing voice at the age of 11 and 12 and 13 now it just SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Thanks Billy!!!

    This is a great cd! I think it's one of Billy's best so far. My whole family loves it! Thank you so much Billy!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A phenominal blend of music and poetry

    This is a great joining of two of the arts of life. Writing and music. Mattie's poems are wonderful and with the music that Billy and his crew put behind it make it etheral "Music, theater, art, literture. These are what we live for." a qoute from Dead Poets society that sums this all up. This music/writing is what we live for. A message of love and peace and uinderstanding. Absolutley great!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 106 Customer Reviews