Susan B.B. Schabacker of Winston-Salem released a new album this month that features local and international musical collaborators, and even a furry critter.
“BTV: Beyond the Virus” is Schabacker’s fifth world music album.
A singer, songwriter and musician, Schabacker collaborated with 54 other musicians from 24 countries to produce the album.
“All artists have donated their talents and time as a charitable contribution, as a volunteer effort,” Schabacker said.
Her goal, she said, was to focus on charitable contributions and creative collaborations, to do a humanitarian outreach project to help people recover from novel coronavirus.
“We selected one local charity and one international charity,” Schabacker said. “We’re trying to bring all the local community together and the people across the world to do this creative collaboration to support people’s lives.”
In addition to the album, Schabacker said the project includes a collection of art donated by artists that will be auctioned off in the first half of 2021 and custom BTV tea blends from her Winston-Salem-based tea business, Tea-lation! Marketing company Wildfire in Winston-Salem is donating its time to design special packaging for the teas, she said.
The majority of the proceeds will benefit two nonprofit organizations — Love Out Loud in Winston-Salem and Heart to Heart International, a Lenexa, Kan.-based charity that focuses on improving healthcare in the United States and around the world.
Schabacker said a small portion will go toward production costs, such as physical CDs and the packaging and ingredients for the teas.
“BTV: Beyond the Virus” covers as many different musical genres and styles as possible in more than 15 languages. The album has 33 tracks.
“Make Our World A Better Place” is the BTV theme song. Other tracks include “Do Our Best (Nepali Tribute),” “COVID Cabana (Greek Tribute),” “Turn and Flee (African Tribute),” “God On Our Side (Italian Tribute),” “All I Can Do Now is Pray (Middle Eastern Tribute),” “Life’s Not The Same (Canadian Tribute),” “Smorgasbord World Patchwork Globe (Local / Global Tribute)” and “Hairy (Portugese/Brazilian).
While there was some tweaking involved, and musicians came up with their own parts, the songs are all based on Schabacker's original songs, except for two tracks, one by musician Tito Puente Jr. and the other by Richard Tisovec (co-written by Schabacker).”
In addition, the song “Let Us Unite (French Tribute)” was produced by Denis B. Québec + Les Productions Le Conquérant.
Professional musicians and vocalists from countries around the world, from Austria to Zimbabwe, lent their talents to create the album.
Local talents include Nicole Andres (drummer/percussionist), Aaron Kinne (vocalist), Marshall Clark (guitarist), Geoff Weber (multi-instrumentalist), Stacey McBroom (vocalist) and Chuck Folds (bassist).
Andres, who is formerly of Greensboro but now lives in Fayetteville, said she knows Schabacker through playing with the group The Spencers at gigs in the Triad.
She added percussion on several songs on the album, including “Up To You and Me (Hawaiian Tribute)” and “Elbow Bumps and Air Hugs (Southern Tribute).”
“The ‘Hawaiian Tribute’ sounds very Hawaiian,” Andres said. “That one’s kind of fun. It really does feel like you’re sitting on the beach somewhere and someone’s playing some live music.”
She likes the fact that the project is made just for the cause of helping people.
“And I just thought it was really cool how she (Schabacker) had so many different artists involved, which kind of makes it unique. It’s almost like a blessing,” Andres said.
She said artists collaborate with each other all the time and from different places, but finds it ironic that out of something like COVID-19 that keeps people in the world separate from each other, Schabacker found a creative way to find a common joy with everyone — music.
“Just being able to use technology to do something like this,” Andres said. “If you think about it, we couldn’t really all gather in one spot because of COVID reasons.”
International artists include Hames Al Shoufi (pianist) of Austria; Gustavo Baiao (vocalist/pianist) and Fernando Souza (guitarist) of Brazil; Prateek Chaudhuri (sitarist), Anuradha Pal (tabla percussionist), Ajay Prasanna (Indian flutist) and Amit Marwadi (vocalist) of India; Marzia Pinna (English horn and oboe player), Choppy Chiara (drummer), Alessandro Palazzani (harpist) and Chiara Costanzo (lyre player) of Italy; Dominika Olszewska Szczepanik (violinist) of Poland; Mahlia Thomas (pannist) of Trinidad and Tobago; John McShane (bag pipes player) and Mark Anthony (rap artist) of the UK.
Anthony, who is also the host of "The Evening Session" radio show on Shoreditch Radio in London, England, raps on the track “Dat Darn Villain (Coronavirus) Will Never Last (Black Tribute)” for the album.
He said he was on board for the project once he got more details about it from Schabacker, basically via emails.
“The call of the project was all about trying to put a positive spin on us all trying to stay strong throughout these difficult times,” Anthony said. “ It was just trying to inspire people and spread a bit of positivity ... I thought it was a good concept.”
He said he also decided to be a part of the project when he saw the list of artists who would contribute to the album and where they came from.
“It’s such a diverse amount of artists on the album from all over the world,” Anthony said. “Because on the album, you’ve got blues, hip-hop, rap, funk, soul, Latin, jazz, Christian, contemporary ... I love world music and I love being educated more about music around the world.”
In addition to the human creatives performing on the album, Schabacker’s hamster, Banjo Tamborine Violin (short for BTV), is featured on several songs with Schabacker performing his “high-pitched-singing voice. Banjo Tamborine Violin is an aspiring artist who has his own Instagram page @mylilfurbabyhammy.
As a spiritual Christian believer, Schabacker said she put a lot of prayer into her project.
“I really believe firmly that God has been directing my path and has called me to pursue music as a career, and this is the start of my career,” Schabacker said. “I wanted to find a way to give back and respond to the coronavirus crisis, to the global pandemic. This is my way of doing that.”