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King sets motherly love to music

ORWELL — Michael B. King’s music ranges from blues to rock to reggae, but these days it’s taken on a different theme: Many of his new songs are about mothers and their children.
The 55-year-old Orwell resident spread his own mother’s ashes this past summer, around the same time that his band, The Jesters, broke up after an 18-year run. Both milestones made him step back and think about his next project.
“I knew I had to replace my music with something,” he said.
During the day, King works at Mountain Lake Services in Port Henry, N.Y., in staff education and development. There, he said, he hears his coworkers talk about their children and post items about them on Facebook. As he faced the absence of his band, it struck him that some of those Facebook posts were songs just waiting to be written.
“It just made sense to me right there — I knew what I was supposed to do,” he said.
King began interviewing acquaintances, letting them speak at length about their children or grandchildren, hearing little pieces of songs throughout each interview.
“People really have a gift with language that they don’t recognize in themselves,” he said. “It’s really profound what you’ll say about your two-year-old daughter.”
Each time King spoke with another mother, it provided the spark for another song.
“I’ll be laying in bed and the song will just flood me, to the point where I’m jumping out of bed and writing things down,” he said.
To date, King has written eight songs, most of them from the perspective of a mother looking at her child. The songs range in style from power ballad to reggae, and he performs on the guitar, vocals, drums, keyboard and bass himself.
It’s a labor of love that King plans to continue. He said he won’t take money for the songs — the way he sees it, the women he interviews are giving him the spark for the song, and he’s putting it to music.
“I don’t want to charge for it,” he said. “It just feels right, interviewing someone and getting that gift. It’s such a touching and heartfelt thing.”
And King said his wife, Linda, insists that each new song he writes is also about their two grown children, Terra and Dustin.
Lisa Boardman, a coworker, was one of the first to receive a song. It’s called “Amie’s Girl,” about Boardman’s 16-month-old granddaughter.
“I have it in my car. I listen to it at least once a day,” said Boardman. “The song is absolutely beautiful.”
Boardman also asked King to record an “unplugged” acoustic version, which he did, and immediately asked for three copies. It’s something Boardman said she will hold close to her for a long time to come.
“It’s a really great gift to have somebody do something that personal for you,” she said. “It’s a great thing.”
Head to our website, addisonindependent.com, to hear a selection of King’s work.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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