Santa Fe Youth Featured on American Idol Alumni’s New Album

Braden Anderson - October 31, 2014

New Album by American Idol’s Crystal Bowersox Showcases Local Young Vocal Talent

Crystal Bowersox, American Idol’s Season 9 runner up, has just released her third album, Promises, a seven song EP that has significant Santa Fe connections.

Produced by Santa Fe-based musician Jono Manson, the album was largely recorded in the summer of 2012 and was finally released in September of this year. It includes “very personal songs,” says Bowersox. Two more recent recordings have been added to complete the collection.

Manson and Bowersox teamed with The Candyman Strings & Things (Santa Fe’s full-line music store and music lesson studios), who provided talent from their Summer Rock Camp Program and The Candyman Kids Choir. The young singers made a significant contribution, adding a rich chorus of background vocals to "Better World", track #5 on the EP.

"I'm really proud of these songs that we did during those Santa Fe sessions so I decided to release them on my own," Bowersox says. "I love Jono. He never pressured me to do anything I didn't want to do. Just watching him and the way he interacts with people and his family, he's just so generous musically and personally, that is just something I hold very dear."

Thirteen children, ranging in ages 7 to 13, were chosen to sing backup vocals on the song. Anya Alassin, Jonah Brenner, Josiah Brenner, Ella Cook, Emily Cook, Jayda Cook, Hannah Gonzales, Maggie Gonzales, Meena Kidd, Rachel Doolittle-Loosemore, Sara Luiz, Martine Perez, Simon Lee-Plunket, and Lethia Williams can be heard singing the chorus immediately after the verse, “I wish the whole world would sing along.” It was 8 year old Ella Cook, now 11, whose voice stands alone at the end of the song then fades to her giggles along with an assembly of giggles from Maggie Gonzales, Hanna Gonzales and Anya Alassin.

“Crystal was an absolute sweetheart with the kids,” remarks The Candyman Co-Owner, Cindy Cook. “In-between recordings, she was very interactive with the kids and their parents.” She shared her American Idol experiences and admitted how difficult it was for her to be away from her then infant son. She spoke about the places she had lived, her friendship with Melissa Ethridge, how she loves gardening and let everyone know how much she enjoyed Santa Fe and told the kids how lucky they are to live in such a wonderful place. She also did something very sweet for the youngest participant in the group, Josiah Brenner, who had just received the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. Crystal herself has Type 1 Diabetes and had worked with blues legend B.B. King on a diabetes awareness campaign. When she found out about Josiah’s new diagnosis, she encouraged him significantly. She showed Josiah her pump and encouraged him not to call himself a diabetic person, but rather to say he has diabetes - because having diabetes is just something you have, not what you are.  It was the sweetest thing.”

"My daughters, Ella and Emily Cook, were thrilled to sing in Crystal Bowersox's new hit, 'Better World,' comments Celia Cook who was present at the recording session who goes on to say, “What an amazing opportunity for my young and impressionable children to observe success and creativity in such a talented recording artist. Crystal has such a wholesome and hopeful sound. I believe that the feeling behind the song 'Better World' is just what the world needs right now."

As for the other songs included on the album How Long stands out for a verse that implies that Crystal is from Ohio, not American Idol. This seems to be one of the favorite lines for her faithful fans as it always elicits the most emphatic response at a live show.

The title track, Promises, is described by Bowersox as “a slow, bluesy, baby-making tune. It's about promises that aren't meant to be broken no matter how much you'd like to break them," she says. "You have to be a person of integrity and stay true to yourself and who you're with. Relationships are difficult and it takes two to make it work."

Bowersox is currently on her Promises EP Acoustic Tour and working on her third full-length album. The album will be anchored in the elements that made her a successful busker for many years but will also push into the indie-rock territory which is a new venture for her, considering she’s remained faithful in her blues-infused alternative country genre comfort zone.

As the kids arrived at Manson’s Kitchen Sink Studios, he and Bowersox prepared the group for their role in recording the song. Manson expressed “The reason we wanted a group of young people to sing on this song is that part of the idea behind it is that you are the future."

“The world is in your hands! No pressure!” teased Bowersox as the kids prepared to record.

“Good luck”, Manson chuckled as he disappeared into the control room.

Hear the song by pressing the play button up top.

From a Candy Man Strings and Things press release.