Teen recording artist Gareth Laffely, who is visiting with relatives in Orono, has a goal: He wants “to change the world through music,” he said.
A home-schooled, 13-year-old eighth-grader, Laffely lives with his parents, Susan Oliver and Neil Laffely, in Nashville.
He made recent local appearances at a Champion the Cure Challenge event in Brewer and during worship services at Orono’s Church of Universal Fellowship and Orono United Methodist Church in connection with the release of his first CD, “Move On.”
He wrote that CD to raise cancer awareness and help raise funds for The Sananda Foundation, named in honor of a family friend who died of the disease.
Laffely, a singer-songwriter who also plays drums, violin and piano, recorded his CD with Grammy award-winning producer Robert White Johnson, who wrote “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” for Celine Dion, and with keyboardist Jason Webb, who formerly worked with Keith Urban.
Laffely’s CD is a tribute to a dear and loving woman, Sananda Cynthia Simpson, who lost her life to cancer in November 2010.
Simpson was a friend of Laffely’s mother’s who was a special friend to him, as well, and was always encouraging him musically, he explained, adding that before her death he understood her pain at the thought of leaving her loved ones. After her death, Laffely was deeply moved by the pain that loss brought her husband, Frank Simpson.
Those combined feelings inspired Laffely to write “Move On” for Sananda Simpson, which includes the lines, “You have to go, and you need to know: Take the angel’s hand and fly.”
The Sananda Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was established by Frank Simpson to assist people who are facing financial difficulties during cancer treatment.
The Simpson family had to make medical decisions based on finances, and that is the reason for the foundation, according to Laffely and his mother.
In addition to the CD, Laffely has a music video about cancer awareness he hopes will be released nationally this month.
The video’s purpose, he said, “is to inform people about the hardships you face and about how difficult it is for those left behind.”
I wrote it to help heal the hearts of those who have lost a loved one to cancer.”
Laffely’s CD is available for download, by donation, at garethmusic.com.
All proceeds benefit The Sananda Foundation. More information about the work of this nonprofit is available at TheSanandaFoundation.org.