Chad Lawson Press Page | Shore Fire Media

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Photo Credit: Neil KrugDownload
Photo Credit: Neil KrugDownload
Photo Credit: Neil KrugDownload
Photo Credit: Neil KrugDownload
Photo Credit: Joseph LynnDownload
Photo Credit: Joseph LynnDownload

Latest ReleaseView All

breathe

Release date: 9.23.22

Label: Decca Records US

Press Releases View All

September 23, 2022

Pianist Chad Lawson Embraces the Healing Powers of Music with New Album breathe, out now on Decca Records US

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July 15, 2022

Chad Lawson Inspires Today’s Youth To Discover The Healing Powers Of Classical Music With “Fields Of Forever” Single And Music Video, Out Today

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June 17, 2022

Pianist and Composer Chad Lawson Offers an Emotional Embrace and a Liberating Moment of Release with Forthcoming Double Album breathe (September 23)

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May 13, 2022

Pianist and Composer Chad Lawson Debuts Meditative Solo Piano EP, irreplaceable

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Biography View

In the last two years alone, world-renowned pianist Chad Lawson has profoundly reshaped the role that music plays in our daily lives and forged a powerful new pathway for healing. On his luminous new double album breathe, the North Carolina-based composer expands on the extraordinary intentionality he first brought to his massively streamed 2020 effort You Finally Knew, transforming his decidedly modern take on classical music into a conduit for stillness, serenity, and self-reflection. Partly informed by his work as creator and host of the iHeartRadio Award-nominated podcast “Calm It Down,” breathe ultimately establishes Lawson as an essential new voice exploring the intersection of music and wellness—all while delivering an exquisitely crafted body of work whose melodic beauty transcends all genre boundaries.

“With this album I really wanted to create something where anyone can sit back, close their eyes, and release everything they’ve been holding inside,” says Lawson, who’s devoted much of the past few years to studying the science behind calming music and its neurological effects. “Most of us are at a place where we’re constantly inhaling, taking so much in all of the time, and my hope is that this music can help them to exhale and finally let all that go.”

Co-produced by Lawson and London-based orchestrator Geoff Lawson, breathe came to life at the legendary Abbey Road Studios (the same facility where he recorded You Finally Knew, whose standout track “Stay” held steady in the top 25 on the Billboard Classical chart for 80 consecutive weeks). “I’m a complete minimalist, and Geoff understands that space is my favorite note,” says Lawson. “It’s where the listener can ingest everything they’ve just heard and begin the process of quieting their mind.” So while the album features guest appearances from cellist Peter Gregson, violinist Esther Yoo, and members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, breathe embodies an understated elegance that allows a tremendous depth of feeling to shine through every moment.

With a free-flowing quality hinting at his extensive background in jazz, breathe achieves its unfettered emotion thanks in part to the deliberately intuitive nature of Lawson’s creative approach. Naming the timelessly simple melodies of Henry Mancini as his main inspiration for the album, Lawson has adopted a methodical yet unhurried process that foregrounds his highly attentive sculpting of melody—an element he regards as the most vital channel for emotional expression. “A strong melody will carry everything, and in my experience finding those melodies is a matter of waiting until they come to me rather than trying to force it,” he says. “Once I have a full album of melodies in my head, I’ll write them out and put the chords in place and build up all the songs from there.” At that point, Lawson typically takes a month-long break from his work-in-progress, then returns to the songs while immersing himself in poetry and other forms of literature. “I’ll sit and read as I’m listening to what I’ve created, and the story of the song will usually start to show itself,” he says. “So in a roundabout way, the song always tells me what it’s going to be about.” 

Endlessly revealing the graceful fluidity of Lawson’s compositions, each piece on breathe lends itself to a vast array of interpretations and leaves abundant room for the listener to insert their own story. In making his way toward that immense spectrum of emotion, Lawson mined his own experience in a particularly transformative period of time that encompassed not only the global pandemic, but the death of his beloved father. To that end, the album-opening “irreplaceable” presents a nuanced meditation on grief, evoking a sort of hopeful melancholy in its cascading melodies and soul-stirring orchestral arrangement. “To me ‘irreplaceable’ is about recognizing the impact that a certain person has had on your life, and embracing the fact that no one will else will ever be able to take their place,” says Lawson. “So if you’re heartbroken or grieving over someone, it’s a beautiful testament to how much you loved them. I think it’s our role to take that feeling and turn it around, and give that same love to the other people in our lives.”

Elsewhere on breathe, Lawson muses on such matters as the durability of true love (on “fields of forever,” featuring the lush string work of Peter Gregson and Esther Yoo), the sometimes-painful tension between family life and creative practice (on the breathtakingly bittersweet “with you”), and the pure euphoria of joyful infatuation (on “this is what love is,” whose waltz-like movement perfectly echoes the nervous flutter of new romance). With the album’s latter half comprised of solo piano renditions of its more lavishly orchestrated opening section, breathe also offers up such standouts as Lawson’s solo version of the gently effervescent “the color of the sky.” “Every single morning I take my dog out, usually very early, and for a while I’d feel pretty grumpy about it,” says Lawson in discussing the song’s origins. “But the more I started doing it, the more I became fascinated with how gorgeous the sky is at that time of day. Every morning it’s a different color, and now it feels really special to take in how spectacular that is.” But whether he’s reflecting on life-changing upheaval or the small and unsung moments that make up the very texture of our lives, Lawson unfailingly creates the kind of warm and lovely atmosphere that’s crucial for a meaningful shift in mindset. “What I’ve found is you have to feel safe first in order to feel calm, so one of my main goals with this album was to create something that really comforts people,” he notes.

Referring to himself as “an extreme empath by nature,” Lawson began classical training in piano as a child and later developed a thriving career as a jazz pianist, but eventually felt compelled to follow an entirely new direction in his music. “The reason I stopped playing jazz is that I didn’t feel it connected on an emotional level,” he says. “When I made my first solo piano album, I was incredibly sick with ulcerative colitis and found that creating this music was very healing to me. Then after I put it out, I started hearing from listeners who’d say things like ‘I just lost a loved one and felt like you were holding my hand through the most difficult time in my life.’ That’s when things started making sense for me, in terms of making emotion the core of everything I do.” As his audience grew exponentially, Lawson soon found himself featured on the likes of “CBS Sunday Morning” and NPR’s “All Things Considered,” in addition to turning out a series of #1 releases and landing high-profile sync placements with such shows as “The Walking Dead” and “Viceland.”

During the pandemic, Lawson widened his reach with the launch of “Calm It Down” in September 2020, a turn of events that’s further heightened his sense of purpose. A fully independent one-man show, “Calm It Down” finds Lawson expounding on an inspired range of topics (forgiveness and anxiety, butterflies and Snoopy), setting his insightful yet charmingly candid ruminations against a tranquil backdrop of his own solo piano music. “The podcast has really taken on a life of its own—I get so many messages from people, opening up about anything from self-doubt to suicide, and that connection is something I definitely don’t take for granted,” he says. “It’s bizarre that it took something as disastrous as the pandemic for all of us to stop and try to figure out how to take better care of ourselves, but I think there’s hope in the fact that we’re opening up the conversation on mental and emotional health instead of just sweeping it under the rug like we had for so long.” 

With his latest endeavors including undergoing certification to teach breathing techniques, Lawson has recently begun to integrate breathing exercises into his live performance. “At the start of the show, I’ve been teaching the audience a very simple technique, just to get them in the practice of being able to quiet some of the chaos and really focus,” he says. And with the release of breathe, Lawson hopes that listeners might allow themselves a similar retreat from the incessant noise of everyday life. “The past couple of years have shown me that people are in need of something soothing to the mind, and I’m happy that I can provide that in some way,” he says. “At the end of the day, all I’m asking is for my music to be a place where people can go to tune out the outside world for a little while, and feel that emotional embrace that so many of us have been missing.”  

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