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How having a son with Down’s syndrome changed rocker’s music

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Cormac Neeson with his son, DabhogImage copyright
Cormac Neeson

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Cormac Neeson with Dabhog, who is now five

The Northern Irish rock musician Cormac Neeson says having a child with Down’s syndrome has changed his life in a “joyful and positive” way.

In 2014 Neeson was, in many ways, living the rock ‘n’ roll dream. His band, The Answer, had sold hundreds of thousands of records and had toured the globe with the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who and AC/DC.

But the singer’s world was shaken to the core when his wife, Louise, gave birth to a very premature baby at just 27 weeks.

“It was an unbelievably dark and troubled time,” says Neeson.

Their son, Dabhog, was born weighing just 1lb 12ozs (0.8 kg) and was immediately taken into intensive care. He stayed in hospital in Belfast for the next four months.

“For a large portion of that time we weren’t sure on a daily basis whether he was going to make it through,” Neeson adds.

Two weeks into that time they had to deal with the news that Dabhog had Down’s syndrome – a genetic condition that typically affects a person’s learning abilities.

“That was something else that just added to the whole very intense experience.”

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Cormac Neeson

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Dabhog underwent heart surgery aged one

Around that time The Answer were releasing an album.

“I would have to take myself away from the incubator for 20 or 30 minutes and do interviews to promote the album.

“I had to pretty much pretend I was in a place where I was comfortable releasing good time rock ‘n’ roll music. It was a complete collision course with where my head was actually at,” Neeson says.

Dabhog did survive and was discharged from hospital, although he had to have surgery aged one to fix a hole in his heart.

The experiences have had a profound effect on Neeson’s outlook on life and his music.

“Whenever the dust settled and Dabhog was home and his health started to turn and life settled down a bit I realised that creatively I was not in a place where I could genuinely write the kind of music we had spent the last 10 years writing,” he says.

He went to Nashville where he worked with American songwriters and musicians to put together a new album. “The result was really a collection of songs that was so introspective and intense and so truthful that they really could only be part of a solo project.

“It’s a world away from the stuff that I had spent my career making up till that point.”

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Shona Cutt

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The title of Neeson’s solo album, White Feather, came from an event during his wife’s pregnancy

One of the songs, Broken Wing, is a tribute to Dabhog.

“It’s a good opportunity to talk about Down’s syndrome and normalise what Down’s syndrome is, but also to celebrate my son for being the individual that he is,” Neeson says.

He says he wanted to get over in the song that raising a child with a learning disability has a unique set of challenges, but “it’s unique in a really great and powerful way”.

Neeson says he also wrote the song to help new parents of children with Down’s syndrome.

“I was kind of placing myself back in the hospital whenever we were told that Dabhog had Down’s syndrome and I was thinking that if I’d heard this song back then I might have taken some comfort from it.

“If your child has Down’s syndrome that is not what defines your child. Your child is unique and amazing like every other child. I’ve never met a person like my son, Dabhog.

“The joy that he brings into our lives is something that I could not have anticipated when we were just worrying day to day about his health and getting him out of that hospital alive.”

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Cormac Neeson

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Neeson has chromosome 21 tattooed on his arm. The most common form of Down’s syndrome is Trisomy 21, when there are three copies of that chromosome instead of two

The album’s title, White Feather, is a reference to an incident early in Louise’s pregnancy with Dabhog.

At around three weeks they were told it was as an ectopic pregnancy, when a fertilised egg is implanted outside the womb, often in a fallopian tube. The egg cannot then develop into a baby and the pregnancy has to be terminated due to the risk to the mother’s health.

After taking Louise into surgery the doctors realised it was not an ectopic pregnancy, but said they would have to wait another two weeks before being able to scan for a heartbeat and confirm if the baby was still alive.

The night before the scan, Neeson went for a walk by himself in the hills near his hometown of Newcastle, County Down.

“A lot of soul searching went on. I said out loud, ‘I need a sign’. At that point I was stopped dead in my tracks.”

He had spotted a white feather in the trees. “In Ireland a white feather represents life,” Neeson says.

The next day the scan revealed a “gigantic” heartbeat.

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Shona Cutt

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Neeson’s band The Answer have released six studio albums

Dabhog is now five and in September started school, where Neeson says he has made friends and won certificates for being pupil of the week.

“Just to be able to experience our little boy thriving like that and being so communicative and being such a life-affirming character and for him to bring so much joy into our lives, it’s a massively positive experience for us and we’re thankful for that,” Neeson says.

Dabhog now has a younger brother and Neeson has become an ambassador for the learning disability charity Mencap in Northern Ireland. Dabhog attended a Mencap centre in Belfast for specialist learning and early intervention support.

“Before my wife became pregnant with Dabhog I suppose my sole focus in life was essentially myself and I think you become much less selfish when you have a child,” he says.

Looking back to 2014, he adds: “There are moments in your life when you don’t know how you’re going to get past these obstacles that are set, but you do.

“Whenever you come out the other side there’s a real sense of victory and that’s where we are at now.”

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Manchester mayor criticises Eminem for rap about Ariana Grande gig bomb

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Eminem on stage in 2018Image copyright
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The lyric appears on the star’s album Music To Be Murdered By, which was released on Friday

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has hit out at Eminem for an “unnecessarily hurtful and deeply disrespectful” lyric about the 2017 bomb attack in the city.

In a song on his new album, the US star raps: “I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game/Like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting.”

That is followed by the sound of an explosion.

Twenty-two people died when a suicide bomber attacked a crowd after Grande’s gig at Manchester Arena in May 2017.

The lines feature in the song Unaccommodating, in which the star boasts about his impact on hip-hop. It appears on his album Music To Be Murdered By, which was released on Friday.

In a statement to BBC News, Mr Burnham said: “This is unnecessarily hurtful and deeply disrespectful to the families and all those affected.”

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Andy Burnham (right) at the reopening of Manchester Arena in September 2017

Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett died in the attack, also voiced her disapproval after being informed of the two songs on Friday morning.

“Feels like he is piggybacking on the fame of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber and says distasteful things about other celebrities,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Not clever. Totally pointless. And before all Eminem fans pounce on me, I am not interested and will not engage.”

Murray has campaigned for the introduction of Martyn’s Law, which would require venues to introduce more stringent security checks.

  • Government backs airport-style security at venues
  • Service marks Manchester bomb anniversary

Hett’s former partner Russell Hayward also voiced his disapproval of Eminem’s latest lyrics, writing: “It’s disappointing but not surprising that #Eminem would use controversial lyrics about the Manchester bomb, dragging the victims’ families & Ariana back into a very dark time.

“Not sure how popular he is these days but I hope any success he gets from the back of this is worth it.”

His comments were echoed by Grande’s fans, who described Unaccommodating as “a pathetic attempt to get attention”.

One fan tweeted the rapper saying: “You’re so disgusting I hope u know that. What u said was very uncalled for and so hurtful to so many people.”

Eminem previously pledged his support to victims of the bombing in 2017, and urged fans to donate money to families who had been affected.

This is not the first time the 47-year-old has referenced the attack in song.

In a 2018 freestyle, he rapped about a brainwashed suicide bomber “seeing Ariana Grande sing her last song of the evening/And as the audience from the damn concert is leaving/Detonates the device strapped to his abdominal region.”

Unaccommodating is the opening track on the star’s 11th album, which he released, unannounced, on Friday morning.

The 20-track album, a follow-up to 2018’s Kamikaze, features cameos from Q-Tip, Ed Sheeran and the late Juice Wrld.

Gun control

In a contrast to the Manchester Arena lyric, the album’s lead single, Darkness, advocates tighter gun control laws in the US.

The song and video reference the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting in Las Vegas, in which 58 people died, with Eminem playing the role of an isolated, mentally-disturbed character who plots a murderous rampage to gain notoriety.

The video ends with a montage of news reports from recent mass shootings, captioned: “When will it end? When enough people care.”

Eminem then urges fans to register to vote in the upcoming US elections, writing: “Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America”.

The video also links to a website with information and links to various anti-gun violence organisations including Everytown For Gun Safety, March For Our Lives and Sandy Hook Promise.

It is not the first time the star has addressed the issue. Performing at last year’s iHeartRadio music awards, he delivered a verse attacking the National Rifle Association’s hold over politicians, rapping: “They love their guns more than our children.”

At the time of writing, he had not responded to the criticism over Unaccommodating. The BBC has contacted his publicists for comment.

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Haitian Actress Nathalie Dalizien Announced Upcoming Film Series And Shows

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Nathalie Dalizien is a young actress from Haiti and she enjoys Broadway shows and activities because the acting career was her passion since when she was younger. She has an upcoming project with Motivation 509 and her upcoming project is described to be a film series. She hopes to perform with Actors and Actresses across Haiti, the United States, Canada, France, Uk, and any other countries in the world.

During an interview with Bon Déjeuner! Radio, or BDR! Live, the journalists have learned that she was born in Port-Au-Prince and her first performance was at the age of 5 years old. The 23 years old actress can write her own Broadway plays and movie scripts as well because she appears in more than 11 short movies/videos that she produced with her acting group called Motivation 509. Her taste for comedy is strong and she wants to help the Haitian Movie Industry become better for this generation and upcoming generations. 

Jean-Gardy Bien-aimé is her favorite male actor and she will always be available to perform with other actors or actresses. She starts acting since when she was 5 years old and comedy is her favorite movie genre. She can sing as well but singing is not her favorite. In the upcoming years, she hopes to release new movies and new film series as well. She is her own inspiration and her experiences began when she was acting at her school and Church in front of thousands of people.

Nathalie Dalizien has an upcoming film series that she produced with Motivation 509 and the series will be released in all online major stores soon. 

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Popular Radio Station ‘BDR! Live’ Allow Artists And Performers To Submit Their Music For Airplay

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Getting your tracks played on the radio can make a big impact on your career, so it’s important to approach radio stations in the right way, to give yourself the best chance of making it onto the airwaves. Airplay is tricky to secure, so be patient, make sure your tracks are water-tight and don’t be too discouraged if you don’t the results you want immediately.

Bon Déjeuner! Radio (also known as BDR) is an internet radio station located in Haiti that broadcasts Top music, live concerts, interviews, shows, food updates, and entertainment news across the internet. BDR! Live allow Artists, Musicians, Performers, Singers, DJs, and others to submit album/single for review for a chance to get their songs heard live on air. 

BDR has millions of listeners and impressions online since when the radio reached out to millions of people worldwide. Of course, BDR will help Artists get the right exposure that they deserve and all.

As an independent artist or else, signed or unsigned, one of the main things you have to understand its distribution. With nobody there to put in the hard work for you, it’s down to yourself to make a positive impression. One of the best ways to distribute your music is to submit music to a radio station.

Radio stations provide exposure, excitement, and hype for your music and can help to really build up and solidify that brand appeal that you wish to cultivate. Of course, BDR can help and build you up, so don’t take this opportunity for granted and submit your work or songs today.

BDR is known as the Caribbean’s best online radio station and you’ll be lucky to be featured on BDR! Live. To submit your work or music, go to www.bondejeunerfm.online and check out Artist programs to move forward with your requests.

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