This week I had the pleasure of chatting via Facebook with Alabama musician Scott Ward, producer and director at Lucky Dog Records. Ward has just produced a digital CD designed to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama. The CD which features 23 tracks by such celebrated musicians as Spooner Oldham, Donnie Fritts, Becka Bramlett, Jackson Highway, The Decoys,The Oak Ridge Boys and seventeen other well-known artists is entitled "A Heaping Helping: Songs for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama." This CD is available for digital download now at the Scott Ward Band web site on Bandcamp. You can also listen to a recent interview with Scott Ward conducted by T-Bone of Indianapolis radio by going to the T-Bone Prime Time web site.
I talked with Ward about what inspired him to undertake this project.
Swampland: The cover page for "A Heaping Helping" features a mother holding a baby. Is that a picture of your mother?
Ward: Yes, That is a picture of my mother holding me when I was a baby. That is the CD cover and will be the cover when I get the physical CDs made. My mother found out she had breast cancer earlier this spring, and she had to undergo surgery. While I was sitting around the waiting room during her surgery, I was worried about my mother, but I also started thinking about all the people I have worked with and gotten to know in my years as a musician. I wanted to do something special for my mother. I have never really able to do anything nice for her or buy her something really nice. I thought this project would be something I could do for her while she is still with me and enable me to use my talents to help this important cause.
Swampland: What artists came to mind when you began this project?
Ward: I started thinking of all my friends such as Spooner Oldham, Greg Martin of The Kentucky Headhunters, Johnny Wyker of Sailcat, The Decoys, and Jay Gonzalez of The Drive By Truckers. Just about all the artists I contacted gave me songs and some even volunteered their songs after hearing about the project. Christine Ohlman, who has been the vocalist for The Saturday Night Live Band for many years, gave me a song and has been helpful with advice about how to put the project together and has also been helping me promote the project. For a few of the artists, I had to got through their record labels or publishing companies, such as Shelby Lynne's label, Everso Records, and Kevin Welch's label, Dead Reckoning. For friends such as The Decoys from Muscle Shoals, I got permission from Rodney Hall of Muscle Shoals Records and FAME Music group.
Swampland: Please tell the Swampland readers a little bit about yourself.
Ward: I grew up in Northeast Alabama, and I have loved music all my life. I didn't start playing guitar until I was 22 in 1986. A couple of years later when I had started classes at Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Al, the band director Rip Reagan told me if I would switch to bass he would give me a full scholarship. It was tough, and I had to cram about 10 years into two or three months, but I was able to make the adjustment and I never looked back. I was able to find more work as a bass player, and I played in bands off and on for the last 28 years in between working and raising my kids.
Swampland: "A Heaping Helping" CD is not your first studio project. Can you tell us about the CD "Muscle Shoals Down Through Decatur."
Ward: In 2010-2011, I was able to fulfill a dream of a life time. My friend, Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer Spooner Oldham, played on an 11 track album called "Muscle Shoals Down Through Decatur" with me and my band. The CD turned out to be a tribute to the songwriters of Alabama, mainly Muscle Shoals writers such as Spooner, Dan Penn, Peanutt Montgomery, Johnny Wyker, Walt Aldridge, and Patterson Hood and The Drive By Truckers. My friend Tommy York gave me a good deal on the studio time and produced and engineered the project. In many ways that CD, and just being associated with Spooner, Peanutt Montgomery, Dick Cooper and many of the Muscle Shoals cats allowed this current project to come about.
Swampland: What motivation did you have for undertaking this project other than your mother's bout with cancer?
Ward: I am married, and I have two daughters and a three month old grand-daughter. I wanted to do something that might help them and all women somewhere down the road. I wanted to leave some kind of positive legacy behind.
The musicians who contributed to the album were quick to offer words of praise for the CD. Bekka Bramlett wrote, "I'm truly honored as well as proud of everyone who submitted a song for "A Heaping Helping: Songs for the Breast Cancer Research Center of Alabama! It's what we do! It's what we SHOULD and MUST do! I'm humbled and truly honored and hope we can make even a lil' difference. I love every one of y'all" Greg Martin of Kentucky Headhunters/ Mighty Jeremiahs said that he was "very proud" to be a part of "A Heaping Helping- Songs For The Breast Cancer Research Foundation Of Alabama'," and Christine Ohlman, The Beehive Queen and vocalist of The Saturday Night Live Band wrote, " Scott, I love this. Feel very blessed to be a part of this one. Special!"
According to the Breast Cancer Organization, one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. You can read more about breast cancer in the United States on the BreastCancer.Org web site.
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama (BCRFA) is located at the University of Alabama-Birmingham's Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC). Since 1996, the BCRFA has raised and invested nearly $3 million dollars of seed money to pave the way for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center to receive sought-after and sustaining grant dollars.
Community support for Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama comes from event sponsorships and attendance, specialty license plate #86 as well as corporate and individual donations. By donating its proceeds to the UAB CCC, the BCRFA allows funds to remain in Alabama. The Foundation takes great pride in knowing the money it raises is used to discover tomorrow's therapies today. The mission of the BCRFA is to help find a cure for breast cancer by funding promising Breast Cancer Research and to motivate community awareness and funding for that research.
By going to the Scott Ward Band web site and purchasing "A Heaping Helping," you can take a step toward helping to find a cure for breast cancer.
-----by Penne J. Laubenthal