As most everyone has probably heard by now, American Idol finalist Michael Johns has just released his first song since leaving the show.
"Another Christmas" was released for download on Amazon and iTunes December 9, 2008. Now that in itself is newsworthy enough, however, there is so much more to be told to the story. You see, Michael didn't release the song to profit from it himself. In fact, he's giving 100% of his first post-Idol single away to charities as his gift to others for Christmas.
In an article first published in New York Post – POP WRAP Michael told how the song was written. According to that article, the song's history is this. He hadn't been back home to Australia for Christmas in eight years, but planned on going back in 2006. His visa didn't come through in time for him to make the trip.
He was so homesick and upset, that he woke up around three in the morning and "the song just came out". His wife Stacey was brought to tears when she heard it the next morning. The story continues after I give you the chance to see the video of Michael performing "Another Christmas" on Access Hollywood.
The first we fans heard that there might be a Christmas single was in a blog posted by Michael on Oct. 23, 2008. Not much more than the name of the song was given about the release at the time. Then, snippets of the song started appearing on the internet around mid November on sites like mjsbigblog. The following week brought more news of the song. In numerous fan forums, such as IDF Aussie Posse and Michael Johns Fan Site, forum members announced that the song would be sent to all Top 40, Hot AC, and AAA radio stations for nationwide play beginning December 01, 2008.
It wasn't until Michael was on a four day tour in the Philippines sponsored by Ayala Malls, that he played a piece of the song for the first time, live at the Greenbelt venue. A video clip from that appearance gave us a little more about his future plans for this gift. He announced that all Philippines sales of the song (made available through Mossimo Music) would be given to Bantay Bata 163, a children's charity in the Philippines.
This was the first hint we had about how extensive his charitable donation of the song would be. On December 1, the day "Another Christmas" started getting radio play, I received an email at the IDF Aussie Posse MySpace, which listed what charities would benefit from the gift Michael had given. The names of those charities are listed below. The list made it quickly apparent; Michael wanted his gift to be meaningful and far reaching. This is a direct quote of the email I received.
In the U.S. it's going to ALS and Red Cross. In Manila it's going to Bantay Bata 163. In Australia the Starlight Foundation.
On December 9, the day the song was loaded for sale on Amazon and iTunes, and Michael announced the release of "Another Christmas" in his own MySpace blog.
In that entry he addressed releasing something so personal to the public: "I never intended to release a song i had written for my family, however it's for such a great cause. I know you will all help me in raising as much money and awareness as you can. Download Another Chritmas at Itunes or Amazon,"
Then in an interview done by Nancy O'Dell for Access Hollywood the same day, Michael confirmed all proceeds from the sale of "Another Christmas" here in the United States would be given to ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease) and The Red Cross. He chose to champion his friend Nancy's causes to honor her mother who was recently lost to the disease ALS.
Radio play of the song rapidly grew and the news of his gift spread over the internet. In addition to the links already listed, his story was featured in People, an Access Hollywood article (before the television appearance), and on AOL TV. Ryan Seacrest's radio show on kiisfm.com was listed as the place to make requests for the song.
Another DJ whose name is Ken founded The Sounds Of Christmas radio station in 2007, and he's been keeping all the fans filled in with the news about Michael's song through his blog. He just announced that out of 2300 songs requested, Michael's was #9 this week. Not bad for a brand new song that was in no way promoted except through news of his gift. My thanks to Ken for doing his part in promoting good cheer.
There you have it. The story of a song that was written by a man, who simply missed his home, his family, and friends enough that he was compelled to put his feelings in verse. That gift of love for his family is now shared with the world to comfort others who cannot be with their loved ones. He has dedicated the proceeds to charity, and then he dedicated the sentiments of the song to our troops and their families who can't be together at Christmas. His gift will touch countless lives in the years to come.
The song is magnificent in its simplicity, elegance, and heartfelt message. It is timeless and will span generations to become a Christmas tradition. Forever, there will always be someone who cannot be with the ones they love during the holidays. Far from being depressing, the song speaks instead of unending love. It's inspiring to hear his words explain how the love you feel is in no way diminished by the distance between you, or the time you are apart.
Michael Johns has dedicated his time and talent, again and again, at virtually every performance since leaving American Idol. He has a history of dedicating himself to charitable acts from the Ithuteng documentary song "River Of Life" that he did with Rye Randa, to performing at New York Presbyterian Hospital for the children there. He's given the phrase "Idol gives back" a whole new meaning, in my opinion.
When I first started this column, I intended to go in-depth for each of the charities listed below, where he's shared his talent this year alone. I realized very quickly that to delve into each subject would turn the article into a book. I've decided to hit just a few highlights of his donated time for charitable causes this year. Here's a list of the events he's done just since leaving the American Idol tour in September.
20 September 2008 – America's Cup of Polo – Journey for the Cure Foundation
24 September 2008 – Life Changing Lives Charity
04-05 October 2008 – Perth Telethon
07 October 2008 – Private appearance with Carly Smithson
09 November 2008 – Tony Hawk’s Stand Up for Skate Parks Benefit for the Tony Hawk Foundation
12 November 2008 – 60th Anniversary Benefit Dinner for the American Australian Association – over $1.6 million raised for the Association's Education Fund
18-21 November – Ayala Mall Tour – where he announced his contribution for Bantay Bata 163 through Mossimo Music
01 December Legoland California - who donated $10,000 to The Dave Thomas Foundation for foster children
02 December – the UNIFEM foundation raised $5000
In other news, he's finished his new CD for release in March of 2009 in his spare time. Well virtually finished anyway. He's recorded about 20 songs and has a couple more to do before he's through. There will be 12 songs on the CD according to Michael, as heard in an interview done by Access Atlanta's Rodney Ho. Click on his name to view the video. Michael tells Rodney that his first single will be out in February. I'll be back with more news for those events as the release dates become firm and we find out the name of the album.
Until then, you must be satisfied with Michael's performance on the David Foster and Friends DVD available now, or the soundtrack he collaborated with Rye Randa and Jeff Foxworth on, for the Shaun White documentary DVD Don't Look Down, to be released in January 2009. Can't wait that long either?
Here's a suggestion. Make a last minute gift to someone you can't be with this year, or buy one for yourself to show thanks that your loved ones are with you now. Ninety-nine cents and a few minutes time is all it will cost. You'll be doing a whole lot more than you'll ever know, for people you may never meet.
Please feel free to stop by and join in the Michael Johns Fan Site forum, or the forum at the IDF Aussie Posse. They are filled with pictures, and videos, and all the Michael Johns news you could ever hope to hear. Merry Christmas, and have a wonderful New Year.