Mark Tremonti the guitarist, songwriter, frontman… now big band crooner? Just when we think we know the Alter Bridge man, he surprises us with the announcement that he's releasing an album on Sinatra songs in May for charity. And you can hear his take on I've Got You Under My Skin above.
And doesn't he do well! Mark hinted to us last year that he had an exciting new project in the works, and it's all for a great cause too; the musician is gifting this album and proceeds from it to the National Down Syndrome Society (this 21 March launch also marks National Down Syndrome Day). It's a charity that is very close to the Tremonti's family heart.
“For years, Iʼve loved singing along to Frankʼs songs,” Mark explains. “One night, I found an old video of him performing The Song Is Youʼfrom 1944. It made me want to dive into his vocal approach. I was all in and I wanted to do something with it.
"When we found out about our daughter Stellaʼs Down syndrome diagnosis, the stars aligned. My obsession with Sinatra had its reason. Frank Sinatra raised more than a billion dollars for charity and that is a fact I wish the public the public knew more about. Beneath his cool and calm persona, he had a big heart. Doing this charity in his name was another way the stars had aligned. I decided to do this record to raise funds for families and individuals with Down syndrome. This project is the start of a new purpose that I will have for the rest of my life.”
That all-in committed approach has typified Tremonti's career as a musician. But he faced some the toughest challenges of his life when holes were found in Stella's heart. Barely 11-months old, his baby daughter needed open heart surgery.
“The waiting between the appointment and the surgery was the worst time in my life without exaggeration," reflects Tremonti. "There's nothing like holding your little girl, feeling all of the sweetness and pure love that she is and knowing you have to prepare her for open heart surgery. They had to bypass her heart, and she was out for a day-and-a-half. When she came back around, it became the best week of my life. A week later, she had no idea she had surgery. Since then, she's been all smiles.
"I would love to let other families know that they can get through this and become stronger because of it. After going through Stella's surgery, I want to raise as much money as possible to help other families that might have similar health concerns so they can focus on their loved ones and not the financial cost that comes with it.”
Inspired not just by Sinatra's music and charitable achievements, Tremonti proved to Sinatra guitarist Dan McIntyre and bandleader Mike Smith that he had both the commitment and vocal ability to take on the project. He was granted approval from The Frank Sinatra Estate.
“Mike handed me Frank's actual vocal chart with his name on top of it," says Tremonti. "I tried to give it back, and Mike said, 'I want you to have this to get that mojo.' He gave me the exact tea Frank drank before he sang with the right amount of lemon. I kept the packet in my Sinatra notebook. It was unbelievable to be working with the guys who were actually on stage with him.”
As well as well-known classics including Luck Be A Lady, My Way and Fly Me To The Moon, Tremonti and the big band tackled deeper Sinatra cuts when tracking in Chicago, including Wave and I Fall In Love Too Easily.
“When the final recording session ended, it was truly a sad moment for me; he admits. "Seeing the last guys standing at the end of the session was a reminder that this chapter was coming to an end. We climbed a mountain, but I could've gone on forever with it."
This is only the first step for Tremonti's new Take A Chance For Charity movement that 'encourages and empowers artists, actors, athletes, and entertainers of all stripes to step into unexpected territory with a creative initiative for charity. Whether it be a football player singing country, an actor salsa dancing, or a guitar player singing Sinatra, it's all for a great cause.'
But at the centre of it all is Stella. “So many talented people have other skills that their fans or followers would never expect," Tremonti reflects. "This is the chance to do something you're passionate about for charity. It's a greenlight to do whatever you want to do. It's a win-win all around. I want people to talk about this enough to get other artists to participate," he leaves off. "Someday, I hope I'm a little old man who raised 100 million dollars for charity. My daughter has already made everyone around her a better person. To do this for her means the world to me.”
The album Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra is released 27 May.
1. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
2. I’ve Got The World On A String
3. I Fall In Love Too Easily
5. Fly Me To The Moon
6. Nancy (With The Laughing Face)
7. My Way
8. You Make Me Feel So Young
9. Luck Be A Lady
10. That’s Life
11. Come Fly With Me
12. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
13. The Song Is You
14. All Or Nothing At All