Just in Time for Mother’s Day: The Story Behind the Single ‘Miracles Happen’ Will Warm Your Heart

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

To say that miracles happen is almost an understatement for producer, musician and dad Don Cherel. When Cherel found out his wife was expecting twins in October 2017, he was over the moon that they’d be expanding their family. But then his world came crashing down when he was told that one or both of the girls would not survive due to Fetal Hydrops. Between December and February 2018, he struggled to keep the faith as he feared the worst. CoverArt

But then, something different happened. In February 2018, the Cherel family received the news that the hydrops had “miraculously” disappeared. 

The emotional roller coaster and Cherel’s gratitude led him back to his guitar, and in March, the song “Miracles Happen” came to life. Three months later, in June 2018, his twin daughters were born. 

Of course, it isn’t lost on Cherel that he’s incredibly lucky because devastating things happen to real families every day. But he hopes that his song is a testament to the power of music and writing — not only as an outlet to get through a difficult time, but as a way to channel emotions and celebrate all that is good. 

Cherel recently caught up with Rockmommy to share his heartwarming story. 

[You can download the single “Miracles Happen” here]. 

Rockmommy: Can you talk about how the song “Miracles Happen” came about?

Don Cherel: I wrote the song “Miracles Happen” during an extremely difficult time for myself, my wife, and two sons. It was March of 2018 when I sat down at the piano to write a song about what our family was going through: We found out we were having twins the previous October, and told one or both would not survive that December due to Fetal Hydrops — and then, in February, we were told that miraculously the hydrops disappeared! Our twin girls were born in June of 2018.  We’re planning their first birthday now.

The song was an emotional journey that I had to express musically. Music has always been my fundamental communicative art form. There’s something about an emotional and poetic expression wrapped in a rhythmic mathematical construct that has always felt naturally expressive to me.

I’ve worked on hundreds of tunes professionally working at a production company but this one had far more personal gravitas. This song contains so much personal pain, fear and triumph culminating into a story of hope, I had to express those emotions musically. I’ve always dealt with tragedy and devastation even joy through songwriting.  I suppose, for me, songwriting is a way to internalize, realize then materialize all the human emotions I’m processing with a tangible keep sake at the end.  Praying got us through the stresses of the experience, the song is sort of the documentary that describes it.

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Don Cherel with his twin daughters, who inspired the single ‘Miracles Happen’

Rockmommy: Have you always been a believer in miracles or more of a skeptic?

Don Cherel: To say I’ve always believed in miracles would be inaccurate. The older I get the more I realize there are certain instances I can’t explain logically. I would consider myself a logical person approaching most instances with ration and logical thought, however this time was very different.  Ration and logic did little to help face the paralyzing fear of a grim prognosis.  My wife and I were devastated because the doctors told us one child (Baby B) wouldn’t survive and there’s a good chance Baby A would meet the same fate.  We have two boys and our family was huddled together crying in the living room.  They looked up at me and asked “Daddy, will it be ok?”  No ration or logic is going to suffice in that instance.  We started praying for a miracle and a few months later we got one.  I am now 100 percent a believer in miracles.

Rockmommy: So many devastating things happen to people — why is music, songwriting specifically, such a helpful channel?

Don Cherel: It is an unfortunate truth that as human beings we witness and experience devastation.  I can’t logically, rationally or accurately explain all the reasons behind human devastation but I know what it feels like. I also know what hope feels like, and not just empty hope but hope  that comes to fruition. To live through that experience formed in me a story I had to tell through song. Why a song? I think songs have the ability to describe and communicate emotions we couldn’t otherwise articulate, at least that’s what happens to me. For some reason those 12 pitches when arranged correctly can evoke in us the deep, deep feelings.

Don Cherel: How do you make time to write?

Rockmommy: I’m not sure I make time to write as often as I should. I primarily compose on guitar and have a recording studio in our barn. Guitars are always hanging on the wall or leaning on a piece of furniture so whenever I have something to say I pick one up to see what will come out.  I try and play everyday, sometimes 20 minutes sometimes a few hours but I’m always writing.

Rockmommy: What message do you hope to pass on to other parents?

pastedGraphic.pngDon Cherel: The message I hope to pass on to other parents is the same message that was passed on to me: hope. My wife and I have a friend who knew of a family in a very similar situation and their child was diagnosed with Fetal Hydrops, told the baby wouldn’t survive yet was born and had just turned 12 months old. We don’t know why certain things happen to certain people but the more people I talk to the more we agree, miracles are happening everyday. This just happens to be our miracle story.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

Kindie Rocker Jessa Campbell Shares Her Secrets for Staying Creative While Raising a Toddler

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

If kindie rock musicians were planets, Jessa Campbell would be Mother Earth. The Portland, Ore.-based singer loves hiking through the tranquil forest, pondering life, and basking in the warmth of a summer day. In fact, her latest single with band The Saplings, “How I Love You Sun,” which debuts this month on Rockmommy, is all about her hot friend. 

But these days there’s another kind of sunshine that’s capturing her heart: Her real-life, three-year-old son. 

Here, Campbell talks about carving out the“me time” she needed to make her latest album, the Pacific Northwest music scene, and finding work-life balance. [Watch the video here, and download the single on Spotify]

Rockmommy: Your voice is amazing! When did you start singing?

Jessa Campbell: Music was a part of my life right from the start. My father loved bluegrass and would often play his guitar and sing around the home. My younger sisters and I could often be found harmonizing from our respective rooms! The first time I remember actually learning a song and singing it for my family was in 1st grade. Mrs. Williams introduced Raffi’s song, “Evergreen Everblue” to the class. That song instilled in me a desire to protect the planet, while also showing my parents that I could carry a tune! I remember singing it for them at a little family picnic we had in our backyard and seeing the surprised looks on their faces.

Rockmommy: Can you tell us how your music has changed since you became a mom (or has it?)

Jessa Campbell: Oh yeah, it’s changed quite a bit! Long gone are the glorious days of hiking through the tranquil forest, pausing now and then to ponder the journey through life! Let’s just say that I wrote a lot of music before having my son. But now, I think I write better music. As you know, moms have very little “me” time. I have to fiercely protect the limited time I’ve carved out for myself. It’s within those incredibly small spaces that the plug is pulled and the songs burst through. With going sometimes weeks or months without having that space, there is a lot of pent-up creativity! The space slowly refines the songs within. Once a moment arises for them to emerge, they can’t get out quickly enough! And there’s no time for crap ideas at that point. I know when a song just isn’t right. In the old days, I would give it space and coax it into being. Now, there’s another song right behind her!

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“How I Love You Sun” single available now (Photo courtesy: Jessa Campbell and the Saplings)

Rockmommy: What inspired your new song and video? 

Jessa Campbell: I was thinking about some of my friends in Indonesia! It was actually quite early in the morning, like, 4 a.m. early. I had been woken up, by my 3-year-old of course, and was unable to fall back asleep due to the laundry list of things that needed to be accomplished the next day. I starting thinking of friends who were already well into their day. I used to sing on a cruise ship and have a lot of Indonesian friends from that experience. The melody was originally written for a song I was crafting called “Indonesian Sun”. I started thinking about how incredible this jewel in the sky was and began researching facts about the sun! The song practically wrote itself!

Rockmommy: What inspires you about the Pacific Northwest’s music scene? 

Jessa Campbell: I appreciate the collaborations and support I’ve received through the community. It’s the kind of place where artists really are there for one another. My bandmates both with the Saplings and in other projects I play with have been my support system! Folks of LDW, the Talking Heads Tribute Project I’m in, were cool with me bringing my toddler to rehearsals. He’d rock out with his little headphones on while mama sang. One incredible organization that I first received some help from and now have the pleasure to work with is Local Roots Music. Local Roots Music NW was founded in 2013 by local musician and entrepreneur Robert Richter. What began as a weekly Sunday night radio program showcasing NW Music on KMUZ-FM in Salem now includes a number of programs promoting local music with most events held in the Portland area.

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Jessa Campbell

Rockmommy: When you see little ones respond to your music, how do you feel?

Jessa Campbell: It’s the best feeling in the world! From the wide-eyed wobblers to the “twirl-around- the-room-like-a-fairy” 8-year-olds, I cannot get enough of it. Each show is so different, and I play to the ages and energies in the room. There was a recent show with a little boy who was quite shy, hiding under the table. I decided to turn that into a game and play our song about the moles in the ground, pointing out that he must have known what song was next! He lit right up once he realized he was doing something pretty awesome!

Rockmommy: What are some of the challenges of being a musician and a mom?

Jessa Campbell: Carrying gear and a kiddo. I have to make multiple trips back and forth of course. Oh, and then there are the moments when your kid is coming up on the stage to tug on your costume while you try to keep singing and also try to communicate that he needs to stop. Fun times. Thankfully Grandma and Grandpa are here now!

Rockmommy: What advice do you have for rockmommies?

Jessa Campbell: Keep doing it. I thought that as a single mama, my music days were over. Nah. You just have to be creative, super resourceful, and carry extra snacks in the diaper bag for the band members at rehearsal!

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor of Rockmommy. 

What a Rockmommy wants for Mother’s Day: 2019 Edition

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we love flowers and pretty things. But we of the rockmommy collective also love to rock. Here, a few of the coolest musical, creative and sustainable gift ideas for us.

  1. Women of Punk coaster set; $18.91: This made-for-Etsy, vintage-concert coaster set is the coolest we’ve ever seen, and a perfect gift for fans of Blondie, Cramps, X Ray Specs, Sioux & The Banshees and Joan Jett.punk_women_coasters
  1. Rock-and-Roll Woman: The 50 Fiercest Female Rockers; $16.50. Give mama a great beach escape with this impossible-to-put-down book from journalist Meredith Ochs. The book features some the most inspiring and iconic ladies of rock n’ roll including rock mamas Aretha Franklin, Grace Slick and Gwen Stefani. 
  1. Ibanez JIVA10 Signature Electric Guitar Deep Space Blonde; $1,499. We can’t say enough about guitar goddess Nita Strauss’ signature axe. It’s beautiful, easy to wield onstage, and produces the most heavenly tones. As they used to say in the ’80s, it’s “strong like a man, but made for a woman.” 489720000002_1_640px
  2. GAMAGO Flipper Guitar Spatula in Black; $15.99. If she insists on cooking brunch, make her eyes light up with this whimsical guitar-shaped spatula.  
  1. Past & Present Succulent Garden; $59. Share the love with this earthy, gorgeous box of succulents, which will last months longer than a bouquet. Available from ProFlowers. 
  1. Birth month guitar pick; $25. Strum sweetly with a gorgeous gemstone guitar pic inspired by mama’s birth month. These beauties are made in the United States, available through UncommonGoods. 
  1. Every Mother Counts bouquet; $88. For the month of May, Farmgirl Flowers is dedicating 100 percent of proceeds for its Orange Rose Mother’s Day Collection to Every Mother Counts — a company whose mission is to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere.

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    Ibanez JIVA by Nita Strauss

  1. Rothy’s Gray Camo Sneakers; $125. I’m kind of obsessed with these sustainable, washable shoes made from recycled materials. They look great, wear well onstage (or in the mommy-and-me gym class) and are light as feathers. Your favorite rockmommy will swoon.

—- Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.