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Schoolboy chums are making waves

MUSIC MAN: Mike Croft in his studio at home in Heysham and below, Matt Wilson.

MUSIC MAN: Mike Croft in his studio at home in Heysham and below, Matt Wilson.

Two Lancashire lads who’ve made waves in the South Pacific with their songwriting talents are hoping for success on home soil.

Matt Wilson and Mike Croft, both now 71, were in the same class at Heysham Primary School, and bonded over the likes of Elvis Presley and the Everley Brothers.

Matt went on to work for the Morecambe Guardian and Lancashire Evening Post before emigrating to Fiji aged 22, and Mike dedicated himself to teaching, becoming head at Heversham Primary and Burton in Kendal Primary.

But despite the distance, the pair remained close friends, and have combined their love of music to write True Harmony, a Christian prayer song, which is performed by South Pacific ‘superstar’ Vanessa Quai.

Mike, of Glenview Crescent, Heysham, said: “Matt wrote the original verses of True Harmony in 1996 as a call for reconciliation and unity at a troubled time for the islanders of Fiji.

“They were struggling to overcome the bitterness, social damage and divisions caused by a military coup.

“Sixteen years ago he asked me to put the words to music and the finished work was recorded by Danny Rae Costello, a Pacific, the Fijian version of Cliff Richard.”

The song was a massive hit in the Pacific area, becoming a chart-topper in Fiji and surrounding countries. During a reunion in 2012, Matt and Mike decided that the theme of True Harmony still had relevance for the people of-Fiji, and that autumn Mike started to recreate the song.

Mike said: “The lyrics are still dreadfully true of many places in the world, so it would be wonderful to get the message across further.”

Matt recruited 25-year-old Vanessa, who he had worked with on charity functions in Fiji, and Mike worked contacted award-winning UK producer James McMillan and a team of top musicians, including pianist Mark Edwards, who appears with British singer and songwriter Kate Melua, Mark Jaimes, guitarist, formerly of Simply Red.

Vanessa, said she was “instantly attracted” to True Harmony because of her Christian faith. She laid down the vocal in her studio in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, often called the happiest place on earth.

She said: “I loved the lyrics, the melody and tune, everything about it. I relate so much to the song. It’s just so powerful. It touched me very much. I believe it is in the heart of every person to live in true harmony.”

The song, which is available to download, has already featured on Clare Balding’s BBC Radio 2 Good Morning Sunday programme, which pulls in an audience of five million.

Vanessa has been invited to perform at Blackburn Cathedral on February 9 with a children’s choir. The invitation followed a visit to Vanuatu by a delegation from the Blackburn Diocese that is assisting a local diocese in the tiny nation with its Christian education programme.

Mike added: “Even though Matt has lived most of his adult life in Fiji he still feels connected to Lancashire. In a sense he is a Lancastrian just like me. So it is fitting that Vanessa should start her tour here in the North West. She is looking forward to singing and meeting as many people as possible.”

Download the song at: www.steepsmithy.com

 

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