After witnessing 9/11, one songwriter put his feelings into a song and â€“ six year later â€“ came away with critical acclaim.
Lincolnton resident Marty Paris was recently named a finalist by the Song of the Year songwriting competition for â€œTears of Heaven.â€
â€œFor me, it was a release,â€ Paris said of writing the song. â€œThere was so much anxiety.â€
Paris was at his home office in Hoboken, N.J., right across the Hudson River from New York City the morning of Sept. 11. His wife was in the city.
â€œI heard a plane fly up the river â€“ it was flying really low,â€ he said.
Soon, he received a call from his wife.
â€œMy wifeâ€™s words were â€˜Weâ€™re being attacked by terroristsâ€™â€ Paris said. â€œMy heart went cold.â€
He wrote his first version of â€œTears of Heavenâ€ that day.
Originally titled â€œWhy,â€ the song has gone through three incarnations. When London was bombed by terrorists, Paris rewrote it, naming it â€œ7-7.â€ Finally, with the help of his band, Paris Keeling, the â€œTears of Heavenâ€ version was completed.
That version can be found on the bandâ€™s album, â€œEnd of Ride,â€ which is a mix of Christian rock, heavy metal and pop, and it earned a spot as a finalist in The Song of the Year songwriting contest.
The international competition is supported by VH1â€™s Save the Music Foundation and has some impressive judges, including Jon Bon Jovi, Sheila E. and Norah Jones.
Paris isnâ€™t surprised by the songâ€™s success.
â€œWe knew we had a hit on our hands,â€ he said. â€œWe liked it.â€
What he is surprised by is the band he was able to create. It includes vocalist Kelly Keeling, bass player Rick Van Benschoten, Matt Geoke and Gintas Janusonis.
Members of the band have performed at Carnegie Hall, been members of classical symphonies and worked with the likes of Madonna, Celine Dion, Carlos Santana and Tony Bennet.
â€œThe way I like to say it is, itâ€™s pretty much an all-star band except for me,â€ Paris said.
Paris has lived in Lincolnton since 2003.
â€œIt was my escape from New York,â€ he said. â€œI just decided it wasnâ€™t the town for me.â€
Although he was born in Charlotte, Paris has spent most of his life living elsewhere â€“ including a long stint in Texas. Many of those years were spent working in software either as part of corporate America or as owner of his own business.
Heâ€™s happy to be back in North Carolina.
â€œI love the people here,â€ he said. â€œI love the culture. I love the fact I can drive when I want to go somewhere.â€
His wife, who was born and bred in New York City, agrees.
â€œShe absolutely loves it, too,â€ Paris said.
As for the future? Nothing is certain, but Paris is sure Paris Keeling will hit the road eventually.
â€œWhen the time is right, Paris Keeling will do some dates,â€ he said.
And New York will definitely be one of the places it plays.
â€œWe owe the city a show,â€ he said.
For more information visit www.pariskeeling.com.
by Sarah Grano