Americana Highways presents this premiere of Ken Francis Wenzel’s video for his song “Healing Heart,” available on June 22, 2020. Ken is donating a portion of the proceeds from this single to www.colorofchange.org and www.cdcfoundation.org/coronavirus. The song was produced, engineered, and mixed by Mark Williams at Sucker Punch Studios, and mastered by Mike Major. Musicians are Ken Francis Wenzel on vocals, acoustic guitar and saxophone; Mark Williams on guitars, bass, drums, and percussion; Tommy Gann on organ and keys. The video was created by Meredith Krygowski.
With a spark of innovation, Ken has mobilized people to send in photos of themselves masked and otherwise riding out the pandemic for this video. “Healing Heart” give it to your straight about the bittersweet experience we’ve all shared at this time.
I wrote “Healing Heart” over a weekend in late April, right in the thick of quarantine. There was no end in sight, and the negative effects of social isolation were really beginning to show up in myself and the people around me. Depression, anxiety, financial pressure, no light yet at the end of the tunnel – this was the atmosphere that I wrote “Healing Heart” in. I began to play it at my weekly Sunday livestream shows, and the response was overwhelming.
I decided to record it – my first studio recording in six years – with my old producer and friend, Mark Williams, at Sucker Punch Studios in Bethesda. We social-distanced in the studio, which had two main rooms separated by glass. I never went into the control room where he was, and I left the recording room whenever he’d position a mic. We knocked it out in one day. I remember it going pretty quickly. The good ones usually go that way.
I thought about what a video might look like, and the first thing I decided was that I didn’t want to be in it. So after talking with some friends, I put out a call for photos on Facebook. Folks sent in photos that described their reality during COVID-19 – front-line workers, families, masks, pets, donation drives. Anything that was significant to them getting through the pandemic. Response was huge, and I was happy with what we came up with.
The video and song were done, and I was exploring ways to release them, when George Floyd was tragically murdered on May 25, and demonstrations and protests engulfed the country. I knew that although the song was not written about racial injustice or police brutality, it had themes that could possibly – hopefully – speak to those topics. Obviously, it would have been completely tone-deaf for the video to not acknowledge, and include in some way, demonstrations, marches, and our current national conversation about racial inequality and justice, so we went back and re-worked the video a bit. Hopefully this song and video now capture a more complete snapshot of these unprecedented times we’re living in.
Find his music here: