Our writer, Kenna Ross talks about the ‘Stardust’ project.

I’ve had the honour of being involved in a local Nairn project over the last few months to raise money for cancer sufferers and their families. ‘Stardust’ is a charity project run by Nairn locals and artists, who wanted to raise money for local people with cancer. The project started earlier this year following a concert to raise money for local mum Laura Young and her family. Everyone involved in the ‘Stardust’ project has been affected by this horrible disease. Alan Greer, of Shackstudios Nairn, came up with the idea of local Nairn musicians coming together to write and produce a charity single to raise more money for local people, the idea developed and ‘Stardust’ was born.

Alan started by putting down a rough cord progression, keyboard melody and structure. The lyrics, which are very catchy, were written by Jamie Fraser lead vocalist of ‘Never Knowing’ and MoRk. For lyrical inspiration MoRk talked to people who had been affected by cancer, asking them about their experiences and feelings. He then mixed that up with the idea that we’re all stardust and that it doesn’t discriminate, and “set about filling a book up with ideas.” Finally, Gary McKinney brought in a guitar solo.

As well as Jamie and MoRk, other artists coming on board to record the track were Kim Brown, my Carma partner, Carmen Beaton, and me. Alan, who had a role at every stage played keys.

This project has completely taken over Alan’s life during the last few months. For him it was a personal quest.

“I have always wanted to write a song for my sister who passed from bowel cancer 12 years ago but never got round to it. After playing at the Allstars fundraiser event in Nairn for Laura Young, a local Nairn mum diagnosed with terminal cancer, it inspired me and pushed me into first gear to get this project going”

From the start, Alan wanted to get it right, ensuring that he had the right mix of artists to ensure this was an inclusive project. He also wanted artists who were highly passionate about and committed to the cause.

Kim Brown, one of the vocalist, shared that she was honoured to be asked to be part of the project. “It is a subject very close to my heart with losing a granny, mum, mum in law an aunty and a close family friend to cancer and also being at my sister in law’s side while she battled breast cancer and is now living with the after affects/pain and struggling to find her old self again.”

This was a huge project for many of those committed to making the song and video a success as they have been involved in the writing, recording, production, videoing, seeking sponsorship and publicising. As MoRk stated, it had “practically taken up his life.”

Once the instrumentals and vocals were down, Ken Allardyce who has worked with bands such as Green Day, Avril Lavigne, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and Madonna stepped in to do his magic.

Whilst Ken was mixing the sounds, the group of artists set about shooting the video. This was filmed by Alan over a number of days around a number of local venues using an IPhone 6 and Phantom 4 drone. The final filming was at Rait Catle where the shoot went on until 2 in the morning. Some special guests arrived in the form of the fire brigade who had been alerted that there were lights and smoke at the castle, prompting neighbours to think the castle was on fire.

The first screening of the video and outtakes took place on Friday 1st September at the town’s Little Theatre which has been a supportive partner throughout. The video, and the outtakes, delighted the audience which included local firms who had sponsored the making of the single and video.

One theme all artists agree is the support they have received from the Nairn community who became involved in the advertising of the single, holding up a placard and having themselves videoed around the town shouting out loud for cancer. There is a real sense of ownership of the song around the town.

The single was released on 8th September and can be bought as a CD (£5) in local stores Nickel and Dime and Fixtronic or downloaded digitally (£0.79). It is hoped that the single will raise a huge amount to support local people in their fight against this disease.

As well as the single and video there is a live event in November which will include all artists who feature on the track. This will be held in the Community Centre in Nairn on the 18th November.Keep track of the forthcoming event at the Sing Loud for Cancer Facebook website.

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Kenna Ross is a 20 year old piano player from the Highlands. She's currently in her third year of a degree in Popular music. Her first year was spent with the successful band 'AlmostFolk' in Alness, before taking Aberdeen for 2nd year with her current band 'Carma', alongside singer and friend, Carmen. She performs as a solo player too in hotels and schools. Kenna has performed festivals such as Jocktoberfest, Belladrum and Celtic Connections with Carma, and they have recently released their EP 'Serendipity'.as part of her studies kenna decided to start a blog about her journey, to hopefully a full time career as a session musician as well as a lover of music.For more information on Kenna and her blog.