When I was young… I was a pop star.

Cover Art FynnjanIt’s true. Early morning calls from TV – “Can we come round and film you?” Radio stations. Promotional CDs. Music video. Posters. The lot.

My song was even played at half time Wycombe Wanderers v Cheltenham FC. And that’s the epitome of pop stardom.

OK, OK – I admit it. I’m not talking about myself. I’m looking into the future at the memories that my friend Fynnjan will have. He’s 11 years old, he has Aspergers – and he’s in the midst of an audacious bid to get to Christmas number one with a song he wrote himself. It’s called The Spirit of Christmas.

He spent Wednesday doing that very difficult thing – smiling on cue, again and again, for hours on end – with film cameras glaring surrounded by the main crew and then the “making of” film crew – all braced themselves for “Just one more run through.” That was for the music video – it’s still being worked on.

So what’s this really all about?  Fynnjan tells it better than me:

Sometimes I just get tunes in my head. In October 2012, when I was 10 and had nothing to do at my Granny’s whilst my parents were on their honeymoon, I decided to write one down. I thought it would be nice to show my music teacher, Mrs Smith. She said it was so good that she wanted me to perform it at the school Christmas Concert, if I wrote some words to it. At the concert, I sang the opening verse and my Dad, Wink filmed it.

Fynnjan centre with mates in studioAn awful lot of fuss was made and Mum was really happy as she had not ever heard me sing before! Mum sent Wink’s video to her sister in Australia. Auntie Sarah also made a fuss and suggested Mum get it recorded professionally. Luckily, Mum had spent the last year recording an album for my Dad’s band Buzz, so she had an idea about how to do this. She asked me if I wanted to record it. I said this would be OK as long a I could use it to raise some money for Asperger’s.

I wanted to raise money for Asperger’s to help other people like me and also to help my school to help other children who have special needs. I needed a lot of help from my school and if it weren’t for them, I would still be crawling about under tables refusing to come out. Now I have the confidence to sing in front of my Mum and the whole school.

nas-logo.ashxI went on the internet to see what the biggest charity for Asperger’s is and it is The National Autistic Society, NAS for short. I sent them an email and they thought it was great idea and would support it.

I asked Buzz if they would play the backing on my song and together we sorted out an arrangement which would be right for a single, about 3 minutes long. We recorded the music and I sang a guide vocal so Mrs Smith could teach my Y6 class the new arrangement ready for the recording. I recorded my actual vocals on 13 July and on 16 July my whole class came to Runway Studios to record their parts.

Three girls in the studioIt was the hottest day of the year and funny to think we were singing about Christmas trees and sleighs! During the day the word got out and Mix 96, an Aylesbury Radio Station wanted to interview me. So we did that on the way home.

We all had an epic day out and it was a great way to spend time with my friends on one of the last days we would all be together. Five days later, we broke up and are now at different Secondary schools. Since the big recording day, I got busy designing the look of the website, drawing the buttons, etc, which I hope you like!

My aims are:
To raise lots of money to help people with Asperger’s and Autism.
To raise awareness of Asperger’s to show that with quite a lot of help, people like me can understand how most of you see the world so we can live more happily in it with you.

Nordoff Robbins Logo Landscape Colour JPEGSince then, another charity, Nordoff Robbins music therapy has come on board as well as the National Autistic Society. And 10% will go to help special educational needs provision at Fynnjan’s former primary school in Seer Green in Buckinghamshire.

Lots more has happened too. Fynnjan and his mum Su were featured on BBC Radio 4 (you can listen here – fast forward 1 hour 15 minutes in). Su said on air that trying to learn about the music business in such a short time was like studying for a law degree – but crammed into just a couple of weeks. Among the people who heard this mum taking on the music industry’s corporate giants were some other spectacular women – respected professionals in music management, plugging, social media and film making. Like the rest of us, they were already busy. But somehow they’ve pushed everything else (including their livelihoods) to one side, to help Su and Fynnjan in what, all of a sudden, is no longer quite such an impossible dream.

The director Cathy Jones (right) arranges the children for The Spirit of Christmas music video shoot.

The director Cathy Jones (right) arranges the children for The Spirit of Christmas music video.

I’ll celebrate them another time – perhaps in a post on the subject of female solidarity. Because along with Su, it’s women taking the lead. Not considering it. Not assessing it. Not talking about it. Doing it.

I can’t share the video yet. But it was huge fun to make. (The director wouldn’t let me be filmed. Apparently I looked so fabulous I would have distracted attention from the children who sing the song. Or something like that.)

ITV News interviews Fynnjan

ITV News interviews Fynnjan

But you can see Fynnjan on ITV News – here. Now other outlets are taking an interest. Generous businesses lend a hand. Volunteers muck in. It’s a daunting, crazy, wonderful thing.

Not long ago Fynnjan‘s mum had never heard him sing. Now he’s aiming for the top of the charts. If ever there was an example of what a child could achieve – he’s it. The boy with an aversion to the limelight is enduring it to give his classmates an experience they’ll never forget. The kid who had communciation problems is holding his own in live broadcast interviews with complete strangers. (He even had a reporter from Italy to cope with.) The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

So it’s all lovely. But what’s the catch? Yes – there is a catch.

This all depends on people pre-ordering the song via Fynnjan‘s website – www.fynnjan.com or you can search for him by name on iTunes. All the pre-orders will kick in on the official December 9th release date and – hopefully – rocket his song The Spirit of Christmas up the charts.

Fynnjan and his mum Su

Fynnjan and his mum Su

You can also “like” his page on facebook or follow @fynnjan on Twitter.

This is a post for the Loose Bloggers Consortium. (Sorry I missed last week folks, but you have an abundance of words this week.) The LBC members sharing stories of their youth include  Ramana, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, MaxiPadmumShackman and The Old Fossil.



Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, friends, Music

36 responses to “When I was young… I was a pop star.

  1. Hudson Howl

    Whether a good man or not, it really does not matter, you are restlessly kindhearted I think.

    A few days into the school year at at new school, my nephew’s son (age 7) came home from school an announced to his mother, ‘that something had happened at school which he thought wasn’t possible, he had met a little girl who was just like him, who had Aspergers just like him’. Needless to say, I followed the link(s).

    • blackwatertown

      That’s an arresting phrase – “restlessly kindhearted” – I will steal it. (Not for about me though.)

      Good story about the “just like me”. Prompts two thoughts from me – first that so many parents feel themselves with a child with Aspergers feel themselves to be very isolated and that nobody could appreciate their situation. That leads, in some cases, to denial and even concealment – instead of reaching out for help and advice. Often there are people who get it – most likely because they’re also living it.

      Second – thinking of a confrontational situation between two children on the spectrum that seemed irreconcilable. That was until it was pointed out to one of the pair that the explanation for the behaviour of the other was that he too had a similar condition. Understanding and interest – and maybe better relations followed

      Thanks for following the link.

  2. Well worth waiting two weeks for this one, Paul! While reading, I re affirmed my belief that you are an amazing ‘people person’, you don’t just meet them, but manage to get right through to their core. Thank you for sharing Fynnjan’s story with us. It is one I will follow with great interest.

    • blackwatertown

      Phew! I’ve been let off not handing in my homework. (I’m thinking in those terms because Top Girl has just started bigger school.)
      I’ll have more on Fynnjan when the video is ready – and of course we’ll all be basking in satisfaction when he gets to Christmas no1.

  3. Reblogged this on autisticandproud and commented:
    See! How cool is this?

  4. Reblogged this on life in the slow lane and commented:
    What a great thing. Have a read.

  5. Póló

    Now this is the real you, back on track.
    Fabulous post. Will check out site later.
    Meanwhile tweeted.

    • blackwatertown

      I’ve sneaked off from everything else I should be doing.
      Meanwhile – check out this spanking new hashtag #fynnjanxmasno1
      Tweeters will be seeing a lot of that soon. (I hope anyway.)

  6. 29

    Good luck for record success at Christmas or, to put it another way
    Glory-o, glory-o to the bold Fynnjan boy.

  7. I wish we lived within close proximity to one another – I’d love nothing more than to share a pint or two and chat with you. You are one interesting fellow. Well worth the read indeed.

  8. I hope Fynnjan achieves his aims of raising money for people with Asperger’s and autism and raising awareness of what Asperger’s involves. I for one know very little about the condition as I don’t know anyone who has it. But I do know that other people’s ignorance can make it more of a problem than it needs to be.

  9. Pingback: When I was Young Part 2 | Grannymar

  10. I doff my topi to Fynnjan and you BWT. This is an amazing piece of writing that needs more readership and I shall do my bit.

    • blackwatertown

      Apologies for your comments not appearing immediately. I don’t know why it’s happening. Rest assured you’re on automatic approval as far as I’m concerned.

  11. Must learn more about Aspergers. I’ve been woefully ignorant on the subject. Thanks to Paul and to Fynnjan for awakening my interest. And best of luck to Fynnjan with his endeavour.

  12. I was a child pop star too. The old Sicilian women would “pop” us with the big wooden salad spoon all day long.

  13. Fynnjan is extraordinary. I will pray for him and his goal.
    blessings ~ maxi

  14. Freddy

    On the subjects of inspiring songs – You Raise Me Up has inspired millions around the world with its message of hope, strength and overcoming.

    • blackwatertown

      I’ve never liked that song. Always makes me wince. Perhaps because it was a Westlife number. Anyway – the story of The Spirit of Christmas is far more inspiring.

  15. Seasonal Sounds Spreading. Even though Christmas is still more than five weeks away, many programmers are not waiting to hop on the all-Christmas music train. As of last Friday (11/15) at 3:00 pm, Clear Channel adult contemporary KOST, Los Angeles began playing all-holiday music, just as it has done the past 12 years. The transitional song this year was Barry Manilow‘s “Happy Holiday/White Christmas.”

    • blackwatertown

      Sounds like it’s about time you slotted in The Spirit of Christmas by Fynnjan then. Let me know and I’ll send you a copy.

  16. What a moving story Paul. Thanks for telling me about. Nice song by the way 🙂


    • blackwatertown

      Thanks Xandi.
      I highly recommend readers visit Xandi’s World Music site. It’s great. (Except if you do, then you’ll find out where I get loads of my musical ideas.)

  17. Pingback: Music from the UK – Fynnjan | World Music - the Music Journey

  18. Quinton Newman

    The word carol derives from the Middle English carole (ring, a ring-dance with a song) — but the tradition may have begun in Greece with the choraulein dance to flute music. The medieval church discouraged dancing to music. Originally carols were primarily folk songs for celebrations. Christmas became the holiday of carols in the 16th century, but condemnation of caroling by the Puritans in the 17th century dampened the tradition in England for over 160 years. Carols can include both religious songs, such as “Silent Night” & “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” as well as the nonreligious “Jingle Bells” & “White Christmas”, although some distinguish between carols and popular songs .

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