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

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

4.7 106
by Billy Gilman
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


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.

Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

Release Date:


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
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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Music Through Heartsongs: Songs Based on the Poems of Mattie J.T. Stepanek 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 106 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I Highly recomend Billlys New CD music through heart songs. Billy has taken some beutiful poems and added his own touch of music to them and has created a wonderful album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is one of my favorite cds like ever, real heart grabber!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a awesome cd billys voice is awesome it was worth the wait to hear billy again
Guest More than 1 year ago
I feel that every song on this album has alot of meaning, and that Billy sing's them so well. Also, I would like to add that I have seen Bekka Bramlett at the 3rd & Lindsley club in Nashville, and she is phenomenal! So, if she is singing background for Billy, that make's it even better!
Guest More than 1 year ago
(To Billy) Billy, Ilove your singing and especially you. You are an amazing person to do the things that you do. It would be an honor to meet you face to face.(to other fans) I agree with all you have to say about this cd and so much more about the author and singer. I love his work and request that all of whoever reads this buys the cds. I LOVE BILLY!!!!!!!!!!! ps Happy birthday billy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Billy's now mature voice truly touched my heart with "Music Through Heartsong." I have listened to this album so many times since the day it was released. Each time I am amazed how Billy brings to life the peoms and spirit of Mattie Stephanek through song. Only the mature voice and spirit of this young man could create such an impact on the heart and soul of anyone who listens. His beautiful spirit and ability to share it with everyone is truly a gift everyone should experience. I will truly treasure this album, as I do with every album he has released and personally signed for me. Thank you Billy you are the BEST!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this CD. His voice is awesome, and the lyrics are soo good! It's a very uplifting CD and positive too. Billy is an awesome vocalist and Mattie is a great writer!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd is great I love it!!!!! Billy and Mattie have done a great job!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought "Heartsongs" back in April..and I sat down to listen to every song on the CD...I must say that it is a awesome, heart-warming, sensational album that the whole family can enjoy! Billy Gilman's voice has developed very well, and he will earn big bucks off of this album, I'm sure of it. It touched me when I sat down and listened to the lyrics to songs such as "For Our World" or "It Happened Anyway"...Mattie J.T. Stepanek is an awesome poet who puts feelings and personal experiences into what he writes..and they decided to add alittle Gilman charm to it. It's an Awesome CD. I would recommend it to anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
For the dutch people: Deze cd van Billy is echt heel goed. Het is een leuke cd om naar te luisteren. Zijn andere cd's zijn ook al erg goed. Dit is echt een topper!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow!!! Billy Gilman does such a great job (as always!) with this album! Especially in portraying Mattie J.T. Stepanek's poetry. I have always been a big fan of both of theirs, so when I heard that they were pulling together, I was really excited! This is one of Billy's best CDs ever! His voice is amazing! I recommend it to anyone and everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been singing my whole life and know how difficult some songs or melodies are to sing. On this album, Billy displays a control of his voice that I have rarely heard anyone, no matter age or experience accomplish . It is truly an album worth getting. On every tile on the album, he not only sings the song, but takes command of the song and presents the lyrics with a powerful pure voice that few are even capable of.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the cd I have listened to the cd and I love the songs on there and billy is so hot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I sounds so much more in control and you feel that he is very in to the songs when he sings them about Memories
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is the best out of all Billy gilmans albums! The songs are so touching and amazing! When I'm having a bad day I pop this into my cd player and it makes me feel better. I love this album and I totaly recommend it to everybody out there!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hi! My name is Hajnal Pex Cornel, I am from Romania, but I live in Spain right now. I like Billy Gilman very much, his music is really so much different than others. Its so special, very touching, and still he is such a happy guy, it makes you happy to listen to the way he talks. I am sure he will be in music for a long time, and that is really good because today and tomorrow, music needs him, we need him. Here we cant find his CD, I downloaded it from the internet, Billy forgive me. I dont care of Sony or anything, I feel like stealling from 2 kids, I really feel bad. The day it will be available in Spain, I will buy it. And thats a promiss. Billy I know you read this, because I think you are anxious to know how people think about the new CD, the voice change and everything. I asure you that everything is super-ok! :)) I would like to see you in concert here in Spain. Come to Barcelona! A beautifull city. Sony! Promote. Promote. Promote. This boy deserves it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Billy Gilman's 4th cd is such a hit! The music is just amazing and so is his voice! He has matured greatly! Thanks Billy!!! Everyone go out and buy this cd!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was amazed of how well Billy's CD turned out. I was a little hesitant to see how putting music to poetry would work, as well as what his voice would be, due to the drop in range. It turned out way BETTER than I had expected. "For Our World" and "About Things That Matter" speak out about the state of our world today. "It Happened Anyway" is a really tragic song, but it displays Billy's vocal power great- he gets really into it. He really gets into all of them. It's got a bunch of different styles, so it's a great choice for anyone with diverse tastes. What I love though is that the country twang always pops up... You can take the boy out of the country genre, but you can't take the country out of him... But anyways, stop rreading this and run out and get Heartsongs- it's definetly worth it- I haven't stopped listening to it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD leaves you with that same tingling feeling that the song "One Voice" left. Listening carefully to Billy Gilman's smooth, rich (somewhat deeper than previously heard) voice belt out these songs makes you reflect on what is really important in life. The songs just seem to repeat over and over again in your head!
Guest More than 1 year ago
14 year old Billy GiLman has done a GREAT job on his new album I've had friends and family listen to it and they diden't even notice it was Billy Gilman but it was all because of in the line of puberty GREAT job Billy.