Late spring is perhaps the loveliest of seasons. That Briar Summers, a Huntsville singer-songwriter and pianist, should be releasing her first single “Stronger” from her long-awaited sophomore album From the Ashes during such a season is as simple and as joyful a celebration as a clear, blue sky.
In 2017, at the age of 13, Summers recorded her first album, Rollercoaster, which garnered some serious radio airplay both locally and nationally. During her touring schedule in 2018, she began to write the songs that she envisioned for a follow-up recording that she initially planned to release in 2020. The pandemic altered most of her performance schedule and her recording plans but, fortunately, Summers was able to connect with three-time Grammy Award-winning producer David Bottrill.
Bottrill has been working with world-class recordings for decades, including a long tenure with Peter Gabriel’s production company. He has produced albums for a diverse range of musicians from Peter Gabriel to Rush to Smashing Pumpkins. Summers met Bottrill through a performance connection and kept in touch with him over the years. With the slow down due to the pandemic, Bottrill’s schedule opened up. He was increasingly more impressed with the range, depth, and universal appeal of Summers’ songwriting, and agreed to her request to produce and take over her stalled project, which she had already chosen to call From the Ashes.
“The whole album itself is based on moving forward,” says Summers, “no matter what past you might have had, whether a person had a lot of trauma in their past or they are just looking toward the future. It’s all about not letting whatever happened in the past consume you; you have to learn from it, no matter what it is, and keep your vision in mind, and go for it.”
Briar Summers is a shining example of what it takes to “go for it”, as she so wisely states. She is a singer, a competitive dancer, a former figure skater, a stage performer — operatic and Broadway — a pianist, a songwriter, and the recipient of the 2017 Bill Waterhouse Award for Performing Arts, awarded by Huntsville Town Council. “The Bill” is a jury-selected award that honours those gifted performing artists who demonstrate commitment to their chosen field.
Summers is enrolled in French Immersion at Huntsville High School. She is studying piano through the Royal Conservatory of Music and is also involved with and studying competitive dance. In 2019, she used all of her skill as an actor, dancer, and singer in a local production of Newsies The Musical at the Algonquin Theatre.
Briar Summers (Adison Powell Photography)
Beyond these activities, Summers is also developing into a world-class songwriter, as evident in her new single, “Stronger”, written in preparation for her recording sessions for From the Ashes. Summers found herself, like so many, frustrated in trying to achieve her goals and, more importantly, to realize and fulfill her dreams to make her music heard and loved by a larger audience. “Stronger” is without a doubt a classic uplifting anthem. Bottrill believes her songs, and this song in particular, span generations — “Stronger” is one of those great tunes to be embraced by all.
It’s a powerful song, made much more so by the production and the exemplary performances by the musicians that accompany Summers on the song — Ben Riley on drums, Chris Stringer on guitar, Daniel Dennis on cello, Drew Jurecka on violin, and Jamie Bestwick on bass. Meant to raise the sprit and encourage the soul, Summers sings triumphantly that no setback or hardship can overcome our dreams, they only make us stronger. Certainly, most of us have faced obstacles only to find ourselves lifted up by the buoyancy of determination, renewal, and reinvigoration. That one so young should learn these lessons and then have the courage and articulation to share them is inspirational.
“Stronger” was released today on Spotify and Bandcamp, and will be followed by a new video on YouTube later this month. Summers is already busily managing promotional activities for the single release, and also the advance enthusiasm for the album release expected for July 18, 2021, pending the completion of final production elements.
For more, visit briarsummers.com.
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