Don Cherel is a man who wears many hats. He’s a director, producer, cameraman, and now a father. In April of this year, Don released his original composition Miracles Happen, which was inspired by the then upcoming birth of his twin daughters. I had a chance to speak with Don about his heartwarming song, his children and the story behind Miracles Happen.
Your song, Miracles Happen was inspired by the birth of your twin daughters. For those who will hear it for the first time, please tell us a little about it.
Yeah, so we found out we were going to have a baby in September of 2017, and then in October, we found out it was twins. And then, November, we found out one of the girls had something called fetal hyrdops, and doctors told us—at the time, it was “baby B”–they told us “baby B” would not survive. That could mean the same for “baby A.” So, it was first I find out my wife is pregnant, then find out it’s twins, then find out one of the twins we would lose, or perhaps both. And then we went through the holidays that way, and then in February, we went in for a sonogram and they were able to determine that the hydrops sort of miraculously went away. So, I wrote the song Miracles Happen based on that. That experience and they were born June 8th, 2018. Two beautiful little girls. That was the tune.
I was listening to Miracles Happen, and it just warmed my heart. And the part where you sang, “my little girls are on their way–”
Yeah, so they hadn’t been born yet when I wrote this song, but I knew it was miraculous what had happened, so it was destined to be a miracle; the miracle that happened. So, I had to write about it, and I thought about changing it to “they’re here to day,” or whatever, but they were on their way now to becoming two great, beautiful people.
In 2016, you began working with Grammy award winning producer George Massenburg to tell your personal stories through music. Can you tell us about that?
I had a collection of tunes I was sitting on. George and I were working on a couple of projects together. I was sort of noodling around on the guitar and we were out on a film location, and he said, “what’s that tune right there?” I said, “it’s just a little thing I’ve been working on.” He goes, “how many you got?” I said, “I got like, twelve, fourteen songs.” He goes, “maybe you should record them, scratch tracks and let me listen to them.” I said, “ok.” So I had some lying around, so I sent him the scratch tracks and he called me a couple of weeks later and said, “I listened to the tracks,” and I said, “uh-oh, what’d you think?” He goes, “I think we’ve got a lot of work to do.” (laughs) I said, “do yo dig ’em?” He said, “you’ve got some good stuff there.
Let’s record a couple and see what happens.” I have a recording studio at my house, like everybody seems to these days. So, we worked on tunes and brought in some other musicians that he had worked with in the past. Pete Abbott, and Pat Bergeson. And that’s Pat on harmonica and guitar and Pete’s on drums, and Jeff Taylor on piano and some other players and we started cutting some tunes and a couple of tunes turned into a record. And George, I know he’s a legendary producer and engineer, inventor and a great friend. And we had a blast. The Miracles Happen song was the last tune that I cut in the collection of songs. And that was the one with—the most personal of all the stories I’d say.
Just to be sure, are the personal stories an album?
There is an album. So, there are eleven songs. I wrote ten of the eleven. The eleventh song is written by John Prine. It’s a cover of Fish and Whistle. I love that tune. And I love to go fishing! So, I wrote ten of the eleven and that’ll come out September 27th. All eleven songs will be out there.
I’ll be looking forward to that. In addition to being an award winning commercial director, feature film cameraman, audio engineer and music producer, you are also a songwriter. How did you get interested in music?
As an audio engineer, I’ve worked in studios and post production and worked my way up on the audio side and learned field production and photography and sort of all things production on the audio-visual side. Just tools for storytelling, so whether it’s guitar, a camera, or just standard written narrative. It’s always been something that’s been a natural outpouring of my perspective on life, which is storytelling.
It sounds like you have a lot of interesting stories to tell, and I look forward to hearing them.
Yeah, they’re out there. They’re out there. I live them every day. Every time I go into Walmart, there’s a great, new story I come out with, I’ll tell you that much.
(laughs) I’ve heard that about Walmart.
(laughs) There’s some great dialogue at Walmart, way better than anything I could write, I think.
I believe you. It’s amazing the things you see when you’re out in public.
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Are there any upcoming songs you can talk with us about?
Well, I’m always writing songs. I have some new material that I’m working on that are sort of in their infancy. I’ll probably get together with George and Pat and we’ll start mapping out the next batch of tunes. I don’t have any big music project right now. I’m prepping a big visual production job right now. We’re going to be out in the wilderness shooting for awhile, so I’m prepping that job right now. I’m under some pretty strict NDA, so I can’t divulge all the info yet.
Yeah. But there’s always projects going. There’s always an iron in the fire, creatively. And, I think September and October we’ll be playing some live shows, taking the record, playing live. Playing select locations and then working on new music, going into November, December.
Can you tell us if any of those locations are going to be local or national?
I’m going to do mainly the east coast, and when it gets colder, I’ll move a little west, but I’m going to play some wineries and the list will come out in August. Some vineyards.
I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for that. And also, for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps, do you have any advice for anyone?
Yeah, I guess you just create it. Start writing it. Start producing it. I think all producing really means is outputting ideas. Outputting whatever’s inspiring the ideas into tangible medium. Music, photography, poetry, sculpting art, drawing art, whatever it is. Get it out and fail it early and often. That’s all I’m trying to do with music put it out there and fail as much as I need to, but it certainly won’t stop me from creating it or outputting it because when you’re filled with ideas that you have to get out, you continue to do that. And wherever it leads, it leads, but to put it out there is something you have to continually work toward.
Miracles Happen is a beautiful song and warmed my heart when I first heard it, and it will do the same for you. Check out the heartwarming single Miracles Happen on Don Cherel’s YouTube and keep a lookout for his upcoming album due in September 27th.