Levi McGrath
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Levi McGrath

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | INDIE

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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"Levi McGrath Awarded Top Honors in International Song Competition"

LEVI McGRATH AWARDED TOP HONOURS IN INTERNATIONAL SONG COMPETITION!

(Friday 10 June 2011 - Melbourne, Australia) Small House Records today announced that 'Reunion Song' from Levi McGrath's acclaimed sophomore release 'Children of War' (Small House Records 2010) claimed second prize, with the title track 'Children of War' also making the top five in the folk category.

'I'm so excited and sincerely blown away to win this award," said McGrath. "This is a major achievement for me as a songwriter and I'm looking forward to the new opportunities for my music around the world. I'm moved that a song demonstrating the hope that exists amidst war in Northern Uganda can receive such great recognition!'

The Indie International Songwriting Contest is a US-based annual songwriting competition that exists to give recognition to some of the best emerging songwriters in the world, help develop their talent, and provide tools for developing the success of the winning artists.

Levi McGrath competed against hundreds of other songwriters from around the world, and according to the judges, all of them top music industry professionals, it was his winning combination of poignant and powerful lyrics, strong melodies and arrangements and the powerful recording that convinced them the song was truly special.

To stream 'Reunion Song':
http://levimcgrath.bandcamp.com/track/reunion-song

To see the Indie International Songwriting Contest official statement:
http://indieinternational.com/winners.php


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- Small House Records


"Radio Airplay"

RADIO PLAY: (medium to high rotation)
Sonshine FM
Life FM Gippsland
Life Fm Adelaide
93.7 Edge FM
Revival FM
Rhema Darwin
Rhema Gladstone
Rhema FM 94.5
Rhema Wide Bay
Rhema Newcastle
Rhema Orange
Rhema Tamworth
Rhema Wingham
Rhema Sunshine Coast
Spirit FM
Flow FM
The Light Toowoomba
1WAY FM
2 NBC FM
Life FM
Life FM Grafton
4ZZZ Radio
Plenty Valley FM
3CR
3 PBS
Son FM
NineFourOne (Got to #1)
Life FM 107.3
Rhema Mt Gambier
Light FM
Vision FM
Wagga’s Life FM
2IAM FM
2 MCR
2 RDJ FM
3 WAY FM Warnambool
Oak FM Wangaratta
2 COW FM
105.3 WAY Fm Launceston
4NSA 101.3 FM
Rhema Geelong - Misc.


"New Album Release and National Tour"

Levi McGrath releases new album, commences 6-month national tour Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Small House Records today announced the release of Levi McGrath's long-awaited sophomore album Children of War and six-month national tour, sponsored by World Vision Australia.

It has been just over two years since the release of Levi McGrath's explosive debut Move and 2008's groundbreaking national tour, which endeared him to Aussies everywhere. Since then he has toured New Zealand, the USA, visited Compassion projects in Thailand and worked with World Vision in Uganda.

And now, after five months in 2009 rehabilitating former child soldiers in Northern Uganda, and nine months writing and recording his latest release, Levi McGrath is back! Closely informed by his recent travels and aid work Children of War is an astonishingly honest, powerful collection of songs. Songs that not only chronicle many of his life-changing experiences in Africa, but the impact these had on this boy from Bendigo, VIC.

Small House Records is proud to introduce McGrath's Children of War.
'This is an album Australians need to hear -- an ordinary person's extraordinary journey,' said Mark Tulk, Head of Small House Records.

'Children of War confronts not only the poverty and trauma of our brothers and sisters in less- fortunate parts of the world, but Levi's own inner journey of coming to terms with a life where apathy is not an option,' he said.

In addition to traditional instruments, the predominantly acoustic work also features many of the unique sounds of Africa. Armed with a basic recording rig, Levi documented many of the Ugandan musicians he met while working at World Vision's Child Soldier Rehabilitation Center in Gulu, Uganda.
Children of War melds the evocative sounds of thumb pianos, traditional Ugandan stringed instruments and the Gulu Youth Choir with piano, acoustic and electric guitars, multi- layered percussion and cello. Each song speaks a clear, straightforward and heartfelt message of change and empowerment.

Produced by Mark Tulk and mastered at the famous Abbey Road Studios in the UK, the new record was conceived from the outset with a desire to open people's ears and eyes to the many ways they can change their world.

McGrath will set off in two weeks' time to present these life-changing songs and stories to over 100 venues over the next six months, right across Australia – from Darwin to Devonport.
Small House Records is also thrilled to announce that World Vision Australia are partnering with them in what promises to be an unprecedented opportunity to reach thousands of Australians with the message of the plight of suffering children around the world. - Alive Magazine


"Heart of Kindness"

While in Uganda last year, Bendigo (Vic.) born Christian musician Levi McGrath met a young photographer named Paul.

‘He was always dressed to the nines,’ recalls Levi. ‘We were in the middle of Africa, and he was wearing polished leather shoes and a tie. He would stroll in every day with a walking stick and a huge smile on his face.’

The two struck up a friendship, riding motorcycles about the Ugandan countryside, and, before long, Paul told Levi about his past.

‘He told me that when he was 11 he was abducted by a rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA),’ says Levi. ‘They came to his village, knocked on the door of his hut at night, dragged him out and marched him all the way to Sudan.
‘When he got there they trained him to become a soldier and they turned him into a commander. He was forced to murder his fellow country people and, when he was 14 years old, he was shot with an RPG, a rocket propelled grenade, which hit him in his left leg. There’s not much left of it.’
The LRA has been terrorising Sudan, Uganda and the Congo for the past 24 years. Over that time, the group has killed more than 65,000 civilians, displaced millions of people and abducted as many as 40,000 children.

The rebel group relies on these abductees to provide its military muscle — without them the group would have nearly no members. ‘These kids are abducted and forced to become child soldiers,’ says Levi. ‘They’re made to carry guns that are sometimes bigger than themselves. The young girls are given as child brides and sex slaves to older commanders.’

Last year Levi spent five months in the refugee town of Gulu, in northern Uganda. There he was a volunteer sports coach, teacher, counsellor and music therapist, helping to rehabilitate children who had escaped from the rebels.

‘There’s a lot of work that needs to be done with these kids,’ he says.
‘They need to know that they can experience normal life again and have peace back in their lives.’
Working with World Vision, Levi ran a counselling course for eight returned child soldiers, teaching them how to forgive themselves and to build up resilience for facing hardships in the future.

‘That was a really powerful time for me because these kids started telling some stories about what they’d been through. One boy told me he was forced to shoot his own friend, someone he’d grown up with in his village.

‘There was another girl called Grace who was abducted by the LRA on her way to school when she was 14 years old. She was shot in the chest and after she recovered, she managed to escape from the LRA with two child mothers. ‘Child mothers are female children who have been raped in the bush by the LRA, and have had children. Grace brought these mothers and their kids with her, back to Uganda, back to their families and is now kind of seen as a hero in her community.

‘I can’t even comprehend what I would do in that same position. Just the fear that these children had to live through is crazy.’

These stories have become the basis for Levi’s new album, Children of War. The songs on the album draw a strong contrast between life as a child in Australia and the life children in Uganda lead.
‘For me,’ says Levi, ‘the album is about trying to capture some of the visual memories that I had of living in Bulu in northern Uganda, the city where we were staying.

‘Every day I’d walk down the street on the way to work at the World Vision offices and I’d see at least one guy with no legs sitting in a wheelchair who was a victim of a landmine; I’d see women with their lips and noses cut off—victims of the war.’
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Children of War is a dark album. Each song tells a story of the misery experienced by those Levi encountered while in Uganda. But the album also highlights the strength and compassion he discovered in them.

For Levi, who has a strong belief in the influence and power of music, it’s also a call to action for anyone who hears it.

‘I want people to listen to this album because I think it will really give them an understanding of what I experienced there,’ he says.

‘That’s what we tried to capture with the writing of this album, the essence and the truth of the children we met, who have been forced to become child soldiers, something that shouldn’t exist in the world.
‘A lot of the album is really intense, but my hope is that what comes out of that could be really challenging for people here in Australia.’

To support the release of the album, Levi is touring Australia, visiting 100 venues around the country. The tour is in partnership with World Vision, and Levi aims to rally support for the organisation and to inspire his audiences to do something about the issues he sings about.
‘Africa opened my eyes to how I could be useful to people,’ he says. ‘I saw that I could be useful with the little money I have, with the little skills and knowledge I have and, just willingness.
‘This issue is big, too big to be ignored. Ugandan parents who have children abducted are really powerless to do anything about it. Imagine the reaction of parents here in Australia if their children were missing—they’d put on a massive media campaign and put up posters everywhere trying to find their child.

‘It’s such a normal thing in Uganda that people aren’t surprised, the police aren’t surprised and can’t really do anything about it.

‘A lot of my songs are really letting people know the issues and the stories and trying to make things personal. In the end, my aim is to get people involved so after the concert they can go and do something about what they’ve heard.’

For more information about Levi McGrath, including purchasing Children of War and tour locations and dates, visit www.levimcgrath.com. - Warcry Magazine


"Baring His Heart and Soul"

IN the 60s starry-eyed musicians believed their music was going to change the world — a great ambition, but a little optimistic.

It seems no one told young Australian singer-songwriter Levi McGrath that such lofty ideals have long been abandoned.

Driven by a passion to help rehabilitate child soldiers, McGrath spent five months as a volunteer at World Vision’s Child Soldier Rehabilitation Center in Gulu, Uganda.

The young Bendigo singer-songwriter has not been the same since — and neither has his music.
McGrath will be in Bunbury next week as part of a six-month, 100-gig national tour promoting his new album Children of War. He will also be visiting several schools in the area.

Produced by Mark Tulk and mastered at Abbey Road Studios in the UK, the album was conceived with a desire to open peo- ple’s ears and eyes to ways they can change their world.
World Vision was so impressed with his music they have sponsored the tour, allowing him to charge only donations at his concerts.

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello said McGrath’s willingness to volunteer for five months in Uganda with World Vision was a clear demonstration of his commitment.
‘‘His example is an encouragement and a challenge to all of us,’’ Costello said. ‘‘Levi’s incredible experiences and insights have influenced and shaped his music powerfully.
‘‘His ability to communicate, through his music, something of the people he has met and the situation he has seen is extremely moving.’’

Brilliant Bendigo singer-songwriter Levi McGrath is set to inspire and entertain his Bunbury audience on Friday. Children of War is an honest, powerful collection of songs that not only chronicle many of his life-changing experiences in Africa, but the impact they had on him.
And Children of War is an album Aust- ralians need to hear — an ordinary person’s extraordinary journey, according to Mark Tulk, head of Small House Records.

In addition to traditional instruments, the predominantly acoustic work melds the evocative sounds of thumb pianos, tra- ditional Ugandan stringed instruments and the Gulu Youth Choir with piano, acoustic and electric guitars, multi-layered per- cussion and cello. Each song speaks a clear, straightforward and heartfelt message of change and empowerment.

— NICK LONG - Bunbury Herald


"The Right Note"

[Originally published in Warcry. Reprinted with permission.]

He might be just 20, but Levi McGrath has his eye on a great many things. By Jen Vuk

Musician Levi McGrath has managed to fit quite a lot of living into the past year. He’s finished his music composition degree, signed his first record deal, worked as a youth worker on St Kilda’s streets and even travelled to Africa.

‘Yeah, you can say I’ve been busy,’ he says. ‘But it’s been great.’

Signing with grassroots record company Small House Records in June this year was the culmination of a dream for the 20-yearold that began in Donald, in rural Victoria, where Levi was born.

‘I started to play music, piano, when I was 12, which was quite late. I then picked up guitar at 13 and kind of played a range of instruments from there, but really got interested in songwriting.’

The songwriting led to a band called Orphan, a four-piece rock outfit that played around Bendigo, a former Victorian goldmining town, and then onto university.

‘For the last two years I’ve been studying music at Southern Cross University in Lismore [in NSW] but I came back to Melbourne because [my fiancée] Megan is down here.’

Levi and Megan, who works for World Vision, met at a youth festival about four years ago. For some time they fostered a shared dream for an African adventure but a lack of funds kept their plan on indefinite hold.

‘We basically didn’t have near enough money to go and that was the biggest thing holding us back,’ explains Levi. ‘While we were trying hard to save we told both our churches that we really had a heart to go and they were fantastic. They put on fundraising events. One of my friends even shaved off his long hair to raise money. ‘We went under the care of our churches and were able to come back and report on all the things we did over there.’

While in Africa they both met their sponsor children and worked in Uganda with grassroots organisation African Child Foundation, which ‘really looked after its own local community and at ways to build up support of child sponsorship’.

Being in Africa also provided Levi with the opportunity to use his music for children’s outreach.

‘We’d go to the local towns and do talks and play music,’ he explains. ‘Then we visited Kenya because we had a few friends there who showed us around.’

When they returned to Melbourne, Levi got in touch with a street ministry organisation called House of Restoration.

‘I went out with them Friday nights and ministered in the city, meeting with people, praying with them if we could, and just seeing where they were at.

‘We talked to a whole range of people. There was a group of transvestite prostitutes who we mainly spent time with down in St Kilda. And in the city we met up with heaps of homeless guys and ex-prisoners who hung out in Flinders St [Melbourne’s central rail station] and being with them was just awesome.’

Levi says few things could have provided his music with more substance and sense of urgency than his experiences both in Africa and with House of Restoration.

‘I think it’s so important for me to have a reason behind the music,’ he says. ‘When I write songs now so many of them have been inspired by my experiences in street ministry and Africa.

‘I will never forget the people’s generosity both in Africa and on the streets. To meet people who don’t see you only for what you look like but for who you are…I think from that the best music can come out because it’s real.’

In addition to enjoying his new-found relationship with Small House Records and discovering the joys and rigours of touring and gigging, Levi says he’s keen to explore youth ministry and, of course, set foot once again on African soil.

‘At the moment [Megan and I] are trying to pair up with World Vision and a record label so we can promote them wherever we go and we hope to one day live in Africa… that’s our goal.’

As if that’s not enough, Levi’s also got a very important wedding he has to get to later this year—his own.

‘Yeah, we’re looking for a place to get married,’ he explains, almost sheepishly. ‘Life’s really good at the moment. And I can’t attribute anything to myself because God’s totally had everything in his hands.’

www.levimcgrath.com/ - Warcry


Discography

"Children of War" (2010)
(P) & (C) Small House Records, 2010

"Move" (2007)
(P) & (C) Small House Records, 2007

Photos

Bio

Levi McGrath demonstrates a passionate commitment to changing the world for the better. From working with former child soldiers in Uganda, to accompanying The Choir of Hope and Inspiration (comprised of Melbourne's homeless people) Levi is committed to the belief that music is one of the most powerful influences in the world. That's why he aims for his music to motivate and inspire a new generation of people who are willing to stand up and make a difference.

'I want for my music to impact people's hearts and change people's lives. I want to be a voice of challenge to inspire people to open up their hearts to a bigger world,' McGrath enthuses.
2011 has been a big year for Levi McGrath. Following on from landing a top spot at the Australian National Folk Festival, Levi won second prize in the Indie International Songwriting Contest, competing with hundreds of international songwriters, with two of his songs from Children of War making the top 5 in the Folk Category.

Levi toured Australia over May with World Vision and two former child soldiers, and has performed his powerful mix of musical story-telling to thousands of people: from Sydney Bank Executives to World Vision leaders in Singapore. He has accompanied Rev Tim Costello (World Vision Australia CEO) on several key speaking engagements and with more national television appearances coming up, Levi continues to reach out with his message of positive social action.

Levi McGrath began his professional music career in 2007, with the release of his debut album Move on the Australia/USA independent Small House Records label. Move has since sold 4000+ units and has garnered over 300 radio interviews, national television appearances, feature articles and community radio airplay on 300+ stations nationwide, including several syndicated national programs.

2008 saw Levi touring Australia for six months, followed with a Australian Government-funded tour of the USA's South East.
In 2009 Levi returned to Uganda to work with former child soldiers for five months, with World Vision in Gulu. This led to his sophomore, critically acclaimed album Children of War (Small House Records April 2010) -- rich in passion for social change and heart-rending stories of suffering and dignity.

2010 saw Levi complete a 100+ venue, Australia-wide tour sponsored by World Vision Australia to spread the message of rescuing the child victims of war and exploitation. Children of War has resonated with listeners everywhere, and is now in its forth pressing.

Plans for later 2011 include performances at the International Melbourne Fringe Festival, more national touring and supporting a major act on a World Vision Canadian Tour (details to be announced later in 2011).