Singer Suzie McNeil, the last girl standing on the Rock Star: INXS TV series who went on to a successful career in Canada with four albums and 13 national top 20 hits, has just released a charity single on iTunes called “AlOne” — pronounced ‘all one’ — benefitting World Vision and the family of her Late keyboardist Steve Klodt.
McNeil co-wrote the song with Klodt after she returned from Zambia with World Vision, but it was abandoned after he died suddenly in May 2012 while teching for the Sam Roberts Band.
“It’s called ‘AlOne’ — all one — because if you add the letter ‘L’ to the word ‘alone,’ you get ‘all one,’” McNeil tells Samaritanmag. “So that is the sentiment I want people to remember, as far as we’re so far away from Africa and it’s so easy to not care and to turn a blind eye, but we are connected.
“And so the bridge says, ‘Every time you reach out to help you’re helping yourself too.’ I know that’s cheesy but I really believe that.”
Like many Westerners who travel with a humanitarian organization to a developing country, it opened McNeil’s eyes and was a life-changing trip. She even met a little girl named Doris that she would end up sponsoring.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization that is dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice, in nearly 100 countries. One of their biggest campaigns is “sponsor a child,” which asks people to pledge a certain amount of money each month, to help lift a child out of poverty.
“I went to Zambia with World Vision in , and they showed us a family that World Vision is helping in the same sort of district and they showed us a family that hasn’t gotten any help,” McNeil says.
“The family that hadn’t was [headed] by a grandmother because the parents’ generation had all died from HIV/AIDS. That happens in a lot of families. And there were four grandkids, one was a 12-year-old girl and the rest were younger. We went into their little hut and there was a double bed that they all slept on, but there wasn’t room for her, Doris, the 12 year old, so she had to sleep on the dirt. It was so bad.
“And they don’t eat for like four days — we had a translator and I was asking questions,” McNeil continues, “and when they do eat they pointed at little, like weeds; it was heartbreaking. So the next day we brought them tons of grains and fish and all these things and that was the best feeling. And also where she slept broke my heart, so I went into town and got a mattress.”
McNeil sang for them, as well. “They’d never seen a guitar before,” she says.
McNeil also ended up sponsoring Doris. “It’s cool to be able to meet your sponsorship child,” she says. “So when I came back I really wanted to write a song about it.”
She co-wrote “AlOne” with Klodt and recorded it. Purchase it here.
“The first verse is about how we all kind of feel alone. ‘You think of falling slowly when no one is around and every time you wonder will both feet will touch the ground?’” she says, recounting the lyrics.
The chorus is “Everyone is everyone / And you’re never going through. Any of this on your own / ‘Cause you are not alone / You are not alone / We are all one.”
“So that’s the first verse is meant to feel like you’re not alone in feeling that – we are all one. The second verse is literally about Doris and her family,” says McNeil, who switches “you” for “she” in the second chorus. Hear the song and watch the lyric video here.
Shortly after they recorded the song McNeil says Klodt died of a heart attack while working for the Sam Roberts Band.
“These files were on his computer and a year later I recorded it with [producer] Justin Forsley [Keshia Chante, Quanteisha Benjamin, Massari], and I just released it,” McNeil says. “Half of [the proceeds] is going to Steve’s family and then the other half is going to World Vision.”
McNeil, who performs solo, has also just launched an Americana group called Loving Mary in Nashville.M2k Tekno