We are excited to announce that the work has begun on Andrew's latest project, Treasures in My Chest - a full-length studio recording and companion book!
The album is a song cycle drawn from the connections between Andrew's musical DNA and many discoveries of his McKnight family heritage, while exploring the greater age-old human questions of "who am I?" and "how did I get here?".
Treasures will be released to radio and crowdfunding backers late in 2019, and the book and album in both print and digital form will be officially released in mid-January 2020. In addition to intimate concert performances through most of the continental US in 2020, we are developing an inspirational and entertaining Treasures keynote presentation for professional conferences.
Discovering a song written and published in 1906 by his Scottish great grandfather (also named Andrew McKnight) awakened his interest in understanding the genetic sources of his own musical gifts. Following his ancestor's footsteps, from leaving home to landing in a nation shaped by immigrants, unveiled rich details in the risks, hardships and dangers of those uprooting from birth community for new life in an unfamiliar land.
Using the powerful tools of modern genealogy led him to some extraordinary discoveries about music in his heritage; how his great-grandfather's American descendants had endured difficult childhoods and pursued music in many forms, largely unaware of each other. While Andrew himself grew up in a musical household, it was only through his research that he connected with other descendants and their common musical ground. And as he explored the connections and stories in each of his parents heritage, he encountered fascinating discoveries about fortunes lost on the Titanic, ancestors falling on the battlefields of the Civil War, and impoverished immigrants braving weeks on the stormy Atlantic in the hope of a new life and a better start. Along the way he has been constantly attended by the spirit of his grandmother Madeleine Warner McKnight, who imbued him with a fascination of history as a child and was the keeper of many of the family's letters and photos.
The Treasures in My Chest book is an outgrowth of a new reality; how to convey the liner notes and context of a recording with no "container" in the era of streaming and downloads. The freedom to not have to fit artwork and information in a booklet for a CD jewel box first encouraged Andrew to plan an easy to read pamphlet. It was only a handful of days before the "I've always hoped you would write a book" voices grew to a chorus, and so he is hard at work on what will eventually likely be 200-250 pages and 20 or so chapters, in paperback and eventually audiobook too.
Andrew says, "It's the culmination and coalescing of things I love doing - music, history, science, geography - all coming together to help shine light and shadow on human stories. It feels like I am meant to do this now, and that this is an opportunity to bring my work to a far larger audience than I've enjoyed for any of my previous work."
From placing you in the footsteps of his doomed Civil War ancestor Aretas Culver, to finding sparks of hope in the long winter nights on the shores of mid-1800s County Down, his vision, voice and pen have created a mesmerizing sweet spot deeply familiar to anyone who's wondered, "who am I and where did I come from?" Andrew has already been sharing several of the pieces crafted for Treasures in concert, and many of the stories and perspectives draw gasps of joy and astonishment from audience members, who in turn are eager to share their own experiences with him after the show.
Andrew returned to Cabin Studios on nearby Hogback Mountain in early July to record with engineer and co-producer Dustin Delage, with plans for a late autumn private prerelease. The book is well underway already, but the final chapter won't be finished until the dedication of a new Civil War era headstone for Aretas Culver's grave in his hometown of Bristol CT this upcoming Veteran's Day.
He has already been presenting some of the songs in educational, performance and even spiritual settings to great enthusiasm. Treasures is already helping to share not just the "how" (yes, you too can do this), but the richness of the "why" - the amazing gifts of deeper connections with the present as well as the past.
See Andrew performing "Web of Mystery" at a recent concert, along with a little insight into the "why" of his journey: