Multi-talented pianist, Sheldon Pickering, released his fifth studio album, Blessed Assurance, on all online music retail sites. The album is comprised of seven instrumental tracks arranged and performed by Pickering. In his newest release, Pickering combines his signature piano playing accompanied by acoustic guitar, strings and percussion that puts a new age twist on traditional hymns and old spirituals intended to uplift and heal the listener.
1. Swing Low
2. This is my Father's World
3. Be Thou my Vision
4. I Need Thee Every Hour
5. Morning has Broken
6. Poor Wayfaring Stranger
7. Take Time to be Holy
Playing piano since age 6, music has brought him immense joy, and he feels fortunate to share that joy with his fans around the globe. Pickering has released 5 albums to date, including his latest album, Blessed Assurance, which he released this past April, putting a New Age spin on traditional hymnals and spirituals. Pickering currently resides in New Mexico with his wife and five children. He considers himself extremely blessed to have been able to return the priceless gift of adoption to two of his children. Alongside his family and musical endeavors, Pickering is dedicated to advocating for oppressed communities, motivational speaking, and counseling small business owners.
1. PopImpressKA Journal: What does New Age Music mean to you?
Sheldon Pickering: New Age to me means that while this particular genre of music borrows from other genres such as jazz, classical etc. it isn’t necessarily grouped specifically in one. It’s a broader musical pallet lending itself more towards Impressionism than boundaries.
PJ: How do you explain the New Age sound?
SP: For me, when I think of New Age it is almost synonymous with nature. There always seems to be some element of nature included involved and even invoked through New Age music.
2. PJ: What is your background? How did your family influence your creative development?
SP: My family was very instrumental in my creative development musically in that they were supportive of it through ensuring that I had the best lessons and opportunities in our small community. My grandmother was particularly a tremendous support. She always believed in me and encouraged my creativity. I began playing piano for churches, weddings, funerals. To this day I disdain the smell of fresh cut flowers because I played for so many funerals that I associate them with death. I started playing in restaurants and things on the weekends in high school and that is when I kind of started to become more creative as far as composing is concerned.
3. PJ: How did you meet your wife?
SP: I met my wife in high school. She was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen in my life and she took my breath away and my heart shortly thereafter.
PJ: Being a family that have adopted two children what are the ups and downs you've faced in becoming a real family?
SP:The downs were largely in the first stages of the adoption. It’s such a stressful process. And a moments notice things could come falling through and our whole world would shatter in the process. I consider myself a person of faith and hope that until all those papers were signed and we knew that they were fully ours, it was hard to sleep at night.
We live in a small community and sometimes our kids come home from school and experience issues were kids have a question them somewhat rudely and inconsiderately regarding why they are black and their parents are white and while their birth parents didn’t love them enough to keep them. Things like that. I think kids can be really cruel even when they don’t always necessarily mean to be.
There’s nothing like holding your child in your arms the first time whether they are adopted or whether they are natural born. There’s simply no feeling like it. I think it may have actually been stronger with our first adopted child then her biological children.
Life is really busy and I don’t think any of us really consider the fact that some of us don’t quite look like the others or didn’t like him the same way the others did. We are a very close family. We travel together a lot, we play a lot, we eat a lot, we swim and we try to make the most of each day.
4. PJ: What is the most important gift you have been given during your lifetime?
SP: Without a doubt our children. Our first two adopted children were literally the most amazing precious gift we could ever imagine. They change the course of your life forever and for the better. I’m a better person because of knowing them. They are so amazing and I can’t imagine life without them. They really started the story of our family and have seasoned it with the flavor that we never could’ve had or understood otherwise.
5. PJ: What is the meaning behind the title of your new album "Blessed Assurance"?
SP: “Blessed Assurance” Is a beloved hymn that I find a certain amount of solace and peace in and always have. I like the melody and I like the message. When you think about it, we live in a world of uncertainties. So many things can and do happen each day both good and bad and unpredictably. It’s nice to have those few blessed assurances we can count on And I think for me largely this is what this project is about.
6. PJ: How is this album different and what makes it special?
SP: This one started out with a definitive purpose. I really wanted to bring peace to myself through creating the music and in turn create peace and assurance within the listener. I took the audio engineer and collaborating musician, Ryan Tilby, and we would begin each session with a meditation exercise that I have been studying and working on. We follow through with prayer and try to have the most positive energy we could have in the studio throughout the process. There was no worry, there was no concern, there was no distress. Just a few days of peace. And I believe the listener will feel this when they listen to it.
7. PJ: What is your favorite travel destination?
SP: Our go-to is Southern California. It’s hard to spend much time in that area and not leave “dreaming big.” From the spectacular coast to the inspiring history, there is something truly special about that area. We love the San Diego area. The people are so relaxed and kind. We have made wonderful friends and the Pacific Ocean is “my ocean.” As weird as it may seem, it really speaks to me. Also, there is so much culture there. I find I always leave with so much inspiration musically. Additionally, there is something truly healthy, healing, and energizing about the Southern California sunshine!
8. PJ: What is your favorite book, cuisine, time of the year? Holiday? Musical Composer?
SP: One of my favorite books is “Ego is the Enemy“ by Ryan Holiday. It is one of my favorites because first of all, it was completely life-changing, and second, I find myself returning to it time and time again. It is such a powerful message that is so important for this time in which we live. It’s so easy to let our ego run rampant and when it does it destroys everything and everyone in its path. Ryan provides incredible insight, historical analysis, the wisdom of Stoich philosophers, and relevant life experiences and combined them in a way that really challenges the reader to delve in word and challenge oneself. I feel like being introduced to his writings was a significant hinging point in my life professionally, individually, and spiritually.
9. PJ: What is your inspiration for your creative development?
SP: My inspiration for my creative development and is largely in my love for music. The first toy I ever fell in love with and wouldn’t take out of my sight was a Fisher-Price tape recorder. My parents and grandparents say that I would listen to the thing constantly and wouldn’t take it off my ear. I couldn’t get enough. I’m the same way today. Anytime I don’t have music literally playing it’s always going in my head in one way or another. There is always a tune, always a lyric, always a rhythm.
10. PJ: In your opinion, how do you think world has changed in spiritual sense?
SP: I was having this conversation with a friend just the other night. I believe that walls are coming down. I believe that there is an awakening taking place. I think many people are opening their eyes to things that perhaps they were afraid to confront in the past. I believe we are heading to a world that is more kind, respectful, and encouraging. I think we are on the awakening to many of the cruelties, injustices, and tragedies of the past. I believe there are many with awakened sense that want to see that we don’t repeat them. I think that many people are waking to the idea that there is no mythological or institutional power that is real other than the supreme and ultimate power which is love.
11. PJ: What are your future plans in your professional career?
SP: I’m quickly approaching the middle of my life. That is if I live to the full current male life expectancy. I’m getting to that point in life where I’m looking around wondering if I’ve really made a difference? Professionally, I hope to find one or two people who are on the fence about really going forward in art and music and hopefully be able to make an encouraging difference to them. And encourage them to bring their beauty to the world while they still can.
12. PJ: What are your three wishes?
SP: That my children grow up and treat others with love, respect, and kindness and that they choose not to live in fear.
That the injustices of racial discrimination, brutality and cruelty perpetuated by our nation, our churches, our communities is eradicated and is never permitted to rekindle in any fashion.
That I can create the climate around me that allows others (family friends, neighbors) to grow, flourish, and regenerate. That our schools nation and world will try to do the same.
Above: Sheldon with his wife
Above: On a recent TV appearance in NM
Above: Blessed Assurance
Above: Be Thou My Vision
Sheldon Pickering: "Breaking Through"
Sheldon Pickering: "This Is Me" (From 'The Greatest Showman') - Piano Cover