“Whisper” has quite a history behind it. I originally wrote the song as a straight up rock ballad for my band Earth To Andy back in 2001. The basic gist of the lyric was a man owning up to his mistakes to the one he loves and reassuring her that, when the chips are down and the game is really on the line, you can count on me. To any guy who’s ever been a jerk (a subject I happen to be extremely well acquainted with), this was a song about redemption.
Well, after much debate over whether the song was “heavy” enough for us, we recorded and released it as part of our final record, “Sticks The Landing.” (Andy crushed it, by the way.) And even though the band dissolved shortly thereafter, I thought “Whisper” could still have a life. From the beginning, I felt the song was strong enough to be recorded in just about any genre. In fact, over the next few years it was. DJ Rap gave it a spacey, trip-hop vibe and Judy Torres gave it the full-on house music rave-up treatment, a la Cher’s “Believe.” Pretty hard to “Believe “, pardon the pun, when you hear the original demo with me rasping out the brand new melody over a single acoustic guitar. (Guard your toes, it’s name-drop time!) Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots) heard that very demo in 2000 and proclaimed rather nonchalantly, “That’s a hit.”
Not totally sure how many years went by, but around 2008 I called my long time friend and former bandmate from ETA and earlier, Tony Lopacinski, who had relocated to Nashville to pursue a career in country music full time. We got to talking about “Whisper” and how we always thought it would make a great country song. It had the melody and the chorus hook but it needed to tell a compelling story in order for Nashville to perk up it’s ears. Tony had been working with a stellar singer/songwriter named Devin Belle and he sent me some of the tunes they had done together. I was pretty blown away. We both agreed that she should sing our new country version of “Whisper” but the lyrics needed a bit of an overhaul. We needed to flip the perspective of the verses to a female point of view. Tony, Devin and I set about re-writing the verses and came up with a perfect story for what had now become a heartbreaking, but truly uplifting little gem of a country song. Just give it a listen and you’ll understand. I challenge you not to cry!
We began circulating the song around Nashville labels and publishing houses and there it stayed, for years, languishing in total obscurity. It seemed no one was interested in putting it on a record, and after so many years had gone by I really never thought the song would see the light of day.
Sadly, my friend Tony would not live to see the song released. Just a few years after recording the new version of “Whisper” with Devin, Tony was diagnosed with cancer, and after a hard fought year and half battle, finally succumbed to the terrible disease in June of 2011. R.I.P. Bony, love you brother.
Enter Kayla Calabrese. Sometime in 2014, she ended up hearing our “country version”, as we had taken to calling it, and it was a match made in heaven, as they say. Kayla would be the one to revive the song and put it out into the world with the kind of attention and care it deserves. Her vocals on the new “Whisper” are positively stunning and the entire production has an emotional weight to it that will make you weak in the knees. With Tony now gone, the lyrics take on a profound resonance we never could have predicted back in ’08.
So it seems my little baby’s all grown up and finally found a home. Please check out Kayla Calabrese’s new “Whisper”. She’s done us all proud. I know I can speak for Tony and Devin when I say “Way to go Kayla. You killed it!”