How music saved singer Andre Henry's life

(NEW YORK, NY) April 16, 2012, "There's something behind Andre Henry—a spirit inside him. That’s why he can be a spirit leader on Sunday morning and come here Thursday and Friday nights and tear it up. He conveys a vulnerability and sensitivity that are rare for a male artist." These are the words that legendary singer-songwriter Valerie Simpson used to describe young bible teacher and indie-R&B artist Andre Henry last October, after the live showcase of his Insomnia EP at The Sugar Bar—the music venue she founded with her late husband and partner-in-creation, Nick Ashford.

(NEW YORK, NY) April 16, 2012, "There's something behind Andre Henry—a spirit inside him. That’s why he can be a spirit leader on Sunday morning and come here Thursday and Friday nights and tear it up. He conveys a vulnerability and sensitivity that are rare for a male artist." These are the words that legendary singer-songwriter Valerie Simpson used to describe young bible teacher and indie-R&B artist Andre Henry last October, after the live showcase of his Insomnia EP at The Sugar Bar—the music venue she founded with her late husband and partner-in-creation, Nick Ashford. This same transparency Andre employed on his birthday this past March, as he returned to Sugar Bar to debut ten original songs, and share the compelling story of how music helped him win a battle against suicidal depression. The show was a pilot to see how people would react to the new material and the story they tell. It apparently went well because he and his team, headed by the iconic couple’s daughter Nicole Ashford, is currently reaching out to studios and producers, in New York and abroad, in an effort to turn these life-preserving songs into hit records.

“I was told by my pastor that I needed to pour myself into something I was passionate about. She told me that I needed something to look forward to each day. I chose songwriting,” Andre recounts. That advice not only saved Andre’s life; It led to co-publishing a song with legendary songwriting duo Ashford and Simpson, arranging four songs on a Top 10 UK album, and a financial endowment from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Producers (ASCAP). If we’ve learned anything from watching the success of artists like Adele (who sold more records than any other artist in 2011), it’s that tremendous heartbreak is often the harbinger of tremendous success. And it seems to be only a matter of time before Andre is inspiring audiences worldwide to turn their pain into an occasion to dance. The working title for the project is Too Young to Die: How I Nearly Jumped Off a Bridge and the Songs That Saved My Life. Listened to in sequence, the songs recount the events that led Andre to scale the gate of a bridge overlooking the Harlem River, and the spiritual encounter to follow when he climbed back down, choosing instead to descend into the murky waters of the emotional trauma he meant to escape. But don’t let the weighty title and subject matter fool you. The pilot show at Sugar Bar this past March boasted a triumphant blend of Pop-R&B music, sometimes flirting with elements from the worlds of dance, hip-hop, and soul. Andre is also writing a book recounting the events that inspired each song, to accompany the CD.       

Desmond Child (co-writer of Livin’ On a Prayer, and Katie Perry’s Waking Up in Vegas), Erik “Blu2th” Griggs (producer of No Air for Jordin Sparks), and of course Valerie Simpson are among the names being mentioned as the search for producers to oversee and contribute to the project continues. You can see Andre trying out “Don’t Let Her Go”, what is projected to be the first single from Too Young to Die, as well as other songs from the pilot show at Sugar Bar by visiting www.AndreHenryMusic.com. The album and book are scheduled for completion by the fall of 2012, with some of the more upbeat songs being released as early as June. Team Andre Henry is currently raising funds for much of the production costs of this project via the popular Kickstarter platform—which can be easily accessed from Andre’s website by people interested in helping make this project happen. There does seem to be something behind Andre Henry—a spirit inside him, as Ms. Simpson said. Which is why his congregation, New York’s music scene, and soon the world will be glad that he was too young to die.

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