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Paul Cardall is the first Latter-day Saint artist to be nominated for album of the year by the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards. The 8-time No. 1 Billboard charting pianist is also celebrating the 10th anniversary of receiving a donor heart with a new album called “Peaceful Piano.”

You can listen to a preview below. 

We sat down with Paul to ask him about the Dove Nomination, his 10th heart transplant celebration and new album.

 Q: Hi Paul, How have you been?

A: Unbelievably well. Happy. I’m excited to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of receiving a second chance at life with an organ donor’s heart. I survived that heart transplant a decade ago and feel so grateful to be alive and living my dream. The Lord said to change your heart. I guess I took that literally. I love Him for it. 

 Q. You were nominated by the Gospel Music Association for Instrumental Album of The Year. Did you ever think that would happen?

 A: No. I’m in shock. My wife Tina and I were led to Nashville two years ago. We experienced miracle after miracle like Lehi being led to a promised land. I owned a record label called Stone Angel Music. We sold the catalogue to one of the most successful publishing companies in the world known as Anthem Entertainment Group to preserve the recordings place in music history. Our Christ centered instrumental albums from myself and the artists I signed debuted on 11 No 1 Billboard Charts, 21 Charts in the Top 10, with more than 25 million monthly listeners. In Nashville I was introduced to a dozen wonderful artists in the Christian market. Michael W. Smith’s musical director Jim Daneker produced my Christmas album. I invited gospel legend CeCe Winans and singer/songwriter Audrey Assad to be part of the album. Nashville feels like a Zion for musicians who love the Lord. It’s a community of love and support. I’m grateful beyond words for the nomination. I’ve never treated my music like it’s for one denomination or culture over another. The music helps people of all cultures and faiths.

 Q: Can you talk to us more about your latest single “A New Beginning”?

A: Each of us experience significant periods of our lives where we have a fresh start or new beginning. Life has a way of humbling us and in those moments we make a choice. It’s either a time to give up or it’s a time to remember what is important, and to commit again to what is real and true.

Q: Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

A: Not everyone will undergo a life changing heart surgery that determines their fate. I was fortunate because of advancements in thoracic surgery and Congenital Heart Disease research that paved the way for me to have a rather historical new beginning. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a gift. But, it’s my desire to heal other hearts with my music. I want to encore confidence when there’s a new beginning.

Q: Any plans to release a video for the single?

A: Always. We released the music video for my single “Dance of the Forgotten” from Peaceful Piano inspired by hundreds of thousands of individuals and families affected by organ donation. It’s a beautiful video featuring several ballet performers.

Q: The single comes off your new album Peaceful Piano – what’s the story behind the title?

A: After my third open heart surgery as a teenager, I took comfort in music learning to play by ear. I lost a close friend and in my grief I sat at the piano and an original melody came through me. It was my first song that filled me with peace. Since then I’ve recorded over 20 albums rich in orchestrations. Peaceful Piano takes listeners back to the beginning when I first discovered how to play in a way that not only brought me comfort but strangers were asking me to play more after hearing me in restaurants or wherever so could gig back in 1995.

 Q: How was the recording and writing process?

A: Unreal. I went into the recording session with a few ideas but my goal was to improvise all new material on the Steinway & Son Concert Grand. It was ambitious to go in without any written music. I invited Michael Bishop to engineer this project at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. Michael’s won 10 Grammy’s for his brilliant technique. So Peaceful Piano isn’t just any other piano recording. Michael was able to put the listener right next to me on the piano bench. By the end of two days I’d laid down 42 improvised piano pieces. We narrowed those 42 songs down to 18 beautiful compositions for Peaceful Piano.

 Q: What was it like to work with Michael Bishop and how did that relationship develop?

A: Royer Labs Microphone Vice President John Jennings heard me play in a private house concert and was anxious to have Michael and I work together. He connected us. Coincidentally, my wife Tina is a Slovenian-American from Cleveland and so when I was told Michael was also from her neck of the woods we had a good conversation. He had also recorded at Oberlin College where I’d volunteered as a Youth Counselor 20 years ago and hoped to one day record there. Prior to this album, I hired Michael to Master my Christmas album. 

 Q: How much did he get to influence the album?

A: His calm, wise, and engineering expertise was comforting. Especially because I was unsure what piano pieces I’d walk away with. He gave me space to work within my space and was patient to allow the composing process to take place in the moment. I was surprised we’d captured such tender, soothing, and therapeutic pieces of music.

 Q: Would you call this a departure from your previous musical work?

A: All of my albums have the piano as the heart of the recording. This is the first album that is only piano without any module effects or other instrumentation. 

 Q: What aspect of your own heart transplant and your life as a whole did you get to explore on this record?

A: The entire album is a reflection of my journey since receiving the heart transplant. And yet, it’s universal emotions we all experience. The loss of a loved one. The joy of love. The innocence of a child. The determination to survive and adapt. Lots of emotions apply here. Hans Christian Anderson said, “Where words fail music speaks.” This plays like the soundtrack of the human experience. 

 Q: Was this always meant to be a tribute to that event or it rather evolve into this throughout the process?

A: Yes. In life we each have extraordinary events that define us. No one is the same. No one knows how we each feel. Some naïve folks may say they know how we feel but that’s impossible. No one is the same. We each have our own unique identity. What Peaceful Piano does is create an atmosphere of calm so we can reflect, regroup, sleep, e Duce a sense of spirituality, and much more. 

 Q: Any plans to hit the road?

A: Always on the move. I speak to medical groups, families affected by illness, and perform my music in halls.

Q: What else is happening next in Paul Cardall’s world?

A: A gifted author approached me to write my story as a contemporary novel. I’m working with him to do this for 2020. Along with that there’ll be more music to encourage people to enjoy life, celebrate it, and when it gets you down always know there’s someone else out there getting their chest cut open like me so enjoy the air you breath, the life you lead, and the people who Iove you.