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April is Autism Awareness Month and what better way to celebrate and raise awareness by streaming “Embrace the World” by Kevin Walsh.

At the age of 5, Walsh was diagnosed with autism and has faced numerous challenges on his path to becoming a professional musician. Through his new single, “Embrace the World”, his musical career is bound to continuously rise and will also pave the way for the opportunity to inspire and introduce fellow artists.

Inspired by his love for anthemic music and musicals since childhood, he creates his own music through impactful scenes that allow people to express their dreams, fears, and victories. Because of his admiration for artists like Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Mariah Carey, Walsh is able to combine his musical talents with those that inspire him.

“Embrace the World” unites vocals and melodies from the singers within Kevin’s supergroup. “By embracing widely different vocal styles within our supergroup performance, I wanted to allude to the variety within Autistic diagnosis, as each person on the spectrum is an individual with different support needs and range of abilities,” says Walsh as he uses his craft to let people know that Autism is real and that the people who are diagnosed with it have their stories to tell. Through his song, Kevin wants everyone to embrace themselves—loving who they are as the world accepts them wholeheartedly.

With that, half of all proceeds from the song and its associated merchandise will be donated to AsIAm, Ireland’s national charity that serves as a one-stop-shop for the Autism community. He also opened up about his plans to extend the “Embrace the World” concept to a live stage show and multilingual version with international artists along with working on a second single. Below is an in-depth conversation on Kevin Walsh’s inspiration and journey to success.

The song is so moving and inspirational, Congratulations! I love the anthem vibe it brings and from the title itself, it speaks so much empowerment to the world. What motivated you to write the song?

Thank you so much, Agatha! I love anthemic music. That style of music was very prolific for me growing up as a kid. “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” (Meat Loaf) was Number 1 on the charts the day I was born. Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Mariah Carey also had some awesome, awesome power ballads out at the time as well and those kinds of songs struck a strong core with me.

Then as I got older, I started acting in musicals and operas in college and my favorite kind of numbers in those were the finales where the entire cast comes on stage to sing about their hopes, their fears, their triumphs and their struggles. So my motivation for writing this song came from my desire to marry my favorite genres and musical experiences together. I wanted to write something that was equally moral lyrically as it is musically sweeping.

With the release and success of “Embrace the World” and the message it brings, what would you like your listeners to be reminded of as they listen to this song?

I really want to draw people’s attention to the voices of the collaborating artists I have singing with me; Emma Langford, Ger, Lisa Curran, Molly Lynch, Rebecca Houlihan, Caroline Kay, Stephen Gormley and Mark Daly. They come from a wide range of musical genres from rock, to folk, to jazz, to musical theater. And that was something I was very particular about, as the song is in aid of AsIAm (Ireland’s Autism Charity), and I really wanted to aurally reflect the diversity of autism as a spectrum.

Most supergroups are chosen based on who’s popular and who is charting at the time of the song being recorded, but I specifically chose each singer because they have some kind of link to Autism in some shape or form— three of us artists (myself included), identify as autistic, two are parents to young children on the autism spectrum and the rest know people either through college, their work or extended family members.

It is a neurodevelopmental condition with many different permutations of being, ranging from complex needs to independence, verbal to non-verbal and everything in-between, just as if you put Temple Grandin and Satoshi Tajiri in the same space together, you get completely contrasting but wonderful qualities. I really hope this single shines a light on the diversity and abilities of those on the autism spectrum. 

My motivation for writing this song came from my desire to marry my favorite genres and musical experiences together. I wanted to write something that was equally moral lyrically as it is musically sweeping.

Kevin Walsh

Can you describe the process it took for you when you wrote this song?

Once upon a time! It was a cold, dark and stormy night… I kid! When I write, I think of it very much in terms of laying out a film script. Where is the character at the beginning of the song? Where are they by the end? What conflicts do they experience to get them to that endpoint? The character I took for this song was someone encouraging and mentoring a child through the various stages from childhood to adulthood and advice they are giving that child along the way. There’s bits of all of us in our work, so the values and precepts I drew on were things I myself strongly believe in. Yet once it’s on paper, I make sure to have it specific enough the connection can be made, but generalized enough that people can project their own life experiences and values onto it. When we hear Johnny Cash singing about falling into a burning ring of fire, everyone can take their own interpretation of that and that’s always my aim when I write music.

The production process of the song was the interesting part. Because we were in the middle of significant COVID-19 restrictions, and not every artist being based in Ireland, we had to stagger the recording process. The instrumental tracks were recorded first and then throughout the entire summer of last year, every vocalist recorded their parts remotely. I wanted to keep the process fresh and flexible, so what everyone did was they recorded their vocal parts as full solo takes. I would send them on to my project manager/producer Yvonne Coughlan as I received them and we would make notes on who would finally be assigned which line based on the vocal takes. I was very excited to receive these vocals each week because everybody bought something very different and unique to it, based on their vocal timbres and personalities. However, the final selection took quite a bit of time as we didn’t only have to consider the individual interpretations of each line, but which groupings flowed the most seamlessly into each other. For example, I had most of the girls on the first verse because it’s meant to be lullaby-like and stately, and the fact of it being in their lower registers in that section helped achieve that.

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The artwork on the song is wonderful. It’s simple yet brings out such a strong impact. Can you share the story behind the picture used for the song?

Sarah-Beth O’Mullane designed the artwork. I knew her from college and she’s an equally fabulous singer and musician in her own right, look her up. We had several meetings over Zoom where we talked about the song, and the themes, and the aims of the project and so on. 

I wanted something very simple and not too busy, and really conveyed that sense of David overcoming Goliath. It’s meant to represent victory and euphoria, similar to the Rocky films when he climbs the steps and says “Yo Adrian! I did it!” The use of the child, again, reflects the characterization I had for the song and the lyrics. And the mixture of art styles similarly reflects diversity as with the choice of artists and vocal timbres.

I really want to draw people’s attention to the voices of the collaborating artists I have singing with me; I specifically chose each singer because they have some kind of link to Autism in some shape or form—three of us artists (myself included), identify as autistic… I really hope this single shines a light on the diversity and abilities of those on the autism spectrum. 

Kevin Walsh

What is your favorite part/lyrics from the song and why?

“If there’s a place for dreams and following your heart, you’ve gotta rise, go forth and make a start…” Because that line was the foundation from which the rest of the song was built. Sometimes, constructing lyrics can be a bit tricky because you have to be concise in forming your image concisely and forming a good rhyming scheme, it can get a bit like a Sudoku puzzle. But once I had that line down, the rest of the song just evolved naturally from that.

Musically, there’s a brief J.S. Bach musical quote in there which I enjoy a lot. I studied classical music extensively in college and harmony was one of my favorite subjects, so I always like looking for spots where I can put these sorts of things. I’m not going to tell you where it is, though.

The character I took for this song was someone encouraging and mentoring a child through the various stages from childhood to adulthood and advice they are giving that child along the way. There’s bits of all of us in our work, so the values and precepts I drew on were things I myself strongly believe in.

Kevin Walsh

I’ve read that you were inspired by your supergroups formed by a lot of artists such as Bob Geldof, Michael Jackson and Irish Women In Harmony. Can you share some of the best advice they’ve given you?

Bob and Michael are absolute masters of their craft, and they deserve total credit for bringing the supergroup song format to commercial success. My biggest role model on this project was Emma Langford, who sings on this and was also part of the Irish Women In Harmony group. She is absolutely disciplined beyond belief with her voice and her technique as a performer is second-to-none. She works very hard and is always ready. Recently, she had to make an appearance singing on Ireland’s primetime television show, The Late Late Show, and was booked with only three hours notice, very short notice in very emotional circumstances (she was appearing in tribute to one of her close musical friends who had been murdered that week), and yet she performed brilliantly. That’s the kind of drive and readiness that I would want to emulate, so I’m always practicing. I vocalize and stretch my voice every day so that when that day comes, I am there and I am ready. And Emma’s skill and achievements inspire me to be at that state of readiness. 

If given the opportunity, do you have artists in mind you’d like to collaborate with? 

It would be a dream come true for me to collaborate with Gloria Estefan. She is my mom’s favorite artist and is a brilliant singer/songwriter, and I absolutely love her ballads. My mom helped me get to where I am today and I wouldn’t be there without her, so I would love to work with Gloria as a tribute to that. And I greatly admire her strong willpower, caring personality, and determination as an artist and a philanthropist.

As 2022 continues and as a rising artist, can you share more of your plans for the future? 

I’ll be back in the studio this summer once I’m done with the promo for “Embrace the World”. I already have plans for my second single, and I want to extend the “Embrace the World” concept to a live stage show and multilingual version with international artists. Those will be on an EP which all going well that should be out by Christmas. 

Sometimes, constructing lyrics can be a bit tricky because you have to be concise in forming your image concisely and forming a good rhyming scheme, it can get a bit like a Sudoku puzzle.

Kevin Walsh

Listen to “Embrace the World” by Kevin Walsh below.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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