Way back when and for a few years (or "Once upon a time", if you prefer), Tom Sparks played drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and percussion in various bands around the Chicago area. He also wrote, produced and recorded his own songs (mainly Pop, Rock, Adult Contemporary, Country and Adult Album Alternative). He then thought that incorporating the inspiration of others would certainly improve the material, so he began looking for lyricists and vocalists to help things along. Needless to say, he found some really talented folks, and over the years has written and recorded many excellent songs working with people such as Georgia Harrell, Melissa Richard, Diane Richardson, Kim Stewart, Constance Walsh and Cat Welch. That journey has continued through the years, and after people moving away, finding other collaborators, or simply moving on to other interests, Tom is now working with the following incredibly talented people:
Teri Weston is a lyricist who lives in Ontario, Canada. To date Tom and Teri have completed over 20 songs together, with at least as many in-progress. Tom finds that as soon as he starts working with her lyrics, the songs virtually write themselves. He says, "When I pick-up Teri's words, the first-draft of the music is almost immediate. For some reason, her lyrics always seem to make the music just flow out. Sometimes I can't believe how easy it is to write with her." The results are definitely worth it.
Melissa Bauer is a singer, songwriter, producer and driving-force behind The Garritys, who are 3 singing-sisters from Minnesota. The vocal harmonies of Megan, Angela and Melissa are second to none, and watching them perform is truly inspirational. To date, Melissa and Tom have written and produced 8 songs together, 5 of which are on the Countdown For Takeoff album. The Garritys performed one of those songs (Goodbye My Friend) on 2 local Minneapolis television shows last October. As a result, quite a few people ordered a CD of that song, and all proceeds (a few hundred dollars) were sent to the American Red Cross Liberty Relief Fund, which directly benefited the victims and families affected by the September 11th attacks.
Nancy T (a.k.a. Nancy Tsarpalas) is a Chicago-area vocalist who has 2 songs on the album and a few more that are in current production. Tom and Kim Stewart, who is an excellent songwriter from Austin, Texas, wrote the title song for the album a few years ago. Currently, there are 2 new songs by Nancy T that are almost completed, plus she's working on the vocal arrangement for quite a few others.
Dana Wittman is another Chicago-area singer who, after performing 2 songs a few years ago (including the title cut from this album), has curtailed her singing career to spend more time with her newborn babies, Lauren and Ryland. However, Tom's been pestering Dana quite a bit lately to have her come back to sing 2 or 3 new songs, including one she wrote for Lauren a couple of years ago.
Al Sears is a definite guitar-virtuoso from the Chicago area. This self-proclaimed "ham and egger" guitarist is at home playing everything from hard rock to Classical (check out his fine work on "Let Me Hear It"); you will definitely be hearing more from Al on future songs.
Since the 16 songs on Countdown For Takeoff overlap various genres, the truth is that you may not like everything, and that's one of the downsides to making good songs that are individually complete instead of genre correct. But we're confident that you'll hear at least a few things you like, and probably like a lot. So give it a listen - we think you'll be glad you did. Thanks for your time.