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Local man’s song makes it big

 

Lincolnton songwriter Bryan Ayers (left), pictured here with his brother and manager Philip, had his song “Always My Girl” recorded by singer Andy Walker.

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

A local man’s two-decade old song has traveled from a Lincolnton filing cabinet to London’s famous Abbey Road Studios — the same place the Beatles and Pink Floyd recorded much of their music.

Last month, iTunes released Lincolnton resident Bryan Ayers’ song “Always My Girl” as part of British artist Andy Walker’s new album “Rosemary’s Songs.”

Bryan said the personal tune about he and his wife’s courtship has since become Walker’s best-selling iTunes song of all time, beating out dozens of other songs from the famous singer’s nine albums.

His brother Philip described the moment he downloaded the song as “sentimental.”

“I couldn’t believe I was purchasing my brother’s song,” he said.

Walker recorded the tune in Abbey Roads Studios and included a song on his CD written by Beatles former front man Paul McCartney, Bryan said.

The United Kingdom’s popular jazz and swing music artist picked up the Lincolnton man’s song on YouTube after Philip uploaded it without Bryan’s knowledge.

Philip said he had been watching American Idol one night and thought of all the young artists in today’s society who get discovered on the Internet video site and other social media sites.

“They’re not licking envelopes to send cassettes and calling (record companies) just to get hung up on,” he said. “When Bryan was writing, there was none of that (social media sites).”

Philip remembered how his brother used to sing with his bands in smoky bars and recorded music on a cassette box in his basement.

It took Philip about six weeks before he told Bryan he had posted the 1989 copyrighted song to YouTube in addition to emailing and uploading the link to Twitter.

No one contacted the brothers about the song for a long time. Roughly four to six months later, Philip said Bruce Springsteen’s former manager Mike Appel and Larry Crane, former lead guitarist for John Mellencamp, responded.

Crane basically told Philip the song was good enough to send to Nashville.

The brothers were elated to hear the news, and Bryan knew the country’s music capital was the place to get noticed. He said he had performed twice at the Bluebird Café in Nashville where Garth Brooks was first discovered.

However, it was Walker who picked up the tune but couldn’t guarantee the West Lincoln High School graduates he could include it on his upcoming CD. Instead, he assured the Ayers brothers he could put out the song out as a single this fall or on a new album in January 2014.

In September, Bryan recorded the tune for Walker at “Threshing Floor Studios” in Lincolnton.

It wasn’t until about a week ago that Philip discovered the song had actually made Walker’s album cut, spotting it on the overseas singer’s Facebook page.

“We’re all just stunned,” Bryan said. “It’s something we thought would never happen. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.”

For years, Bryan said he had played “Always My Girl” at shows around town with his secular band “Basement Boys” — which later transitioned to Christian-based group “Living Proof” — and received rave reviews.

With over 40 songs to his name, Bryan said singing is an outlet for his thoughts and experiences and would like to see more of his work recorded by other well-known artists in the music industry, particularly country music star Keith Urban.

“It’s almost like a puzzle when you put together the words and melody (of a song),” he said. “They (lyrics) just come to me. I write them in my head before I write them down.”

Since joining the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) as both a singer/songwriter and publisher, he can pitch songs to other musicians.

For the time being, the brothers just hope to encourage the community to download the hit on iTunes and spread the word about Bryan’s music, potentially propelling the song onto local airwaves and beyond.

Bryan praised his small-town surroundings for their immense support of him and his music over the years.

“Lincolnton is just superb for supporting their own,” he said.

Walker and the brothers have never met but continue to keep in touch by way of email. Walker told them he has performed Bryan’s song at various concerts throughout Europe, keeping the songwriter’s name a secret until the show’s end. Because audience members assume the hit is an age-old classic, they “go crazy” with excitement, Bryan said, when Walker reveals the story behind the song.

Walker has also since requested to hear more songs from the Lincoln County songwriter.

In spite of all the success Bryan has achieved during the last year, he remains humble, praising his brother — now his official manager — for everything that’s happened.

“Philip’s been a big part of this,” he said. “He really deserves all the credit.”

To download “Always My Girl,” visit iTunes.apple.com/us/album/rosemarys-songs/id684092097. For a free sound byte, visitsoundcloud.com and type “Andy Walker, Rosemary’s Songs” in the search bar. To hear more songs by Bryan Ayers, visit soundcloud.com/hacksaw1980.

 

Image courtesy of Contributed

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