Nancy Sprowell Geise

Writer • Author • Speaker

Story behind The Theme Song for The Eighth Sea

While writing my first book, The Eighth Sea, I kept “hearing” a portion of a song in my head. I often found myself humming it. I do not believe it was like anything I had ever heard before. One day, it was driving me crazy to the point that I wondered if I could somehow figure out how to play it on the piano. Now mind you, the extent of my piano playing skills go back to the four months of piano lessons when I was in 7th grade, before my teacher tragically passed away.

The song in my head was not allowing me to be deterred by such a minor thing as my inability to play anything more than a few cords and a few left hand notes. So from the moment my husband walked out the door of our home in Austin, Texas, at 7:00 a.m., I sat down at the piano and started plunking away. After a few hours of one-handed playing I wondered if perhaps I could add my left hand. When my husband returned nearly 12 hours later, I happily announced, “I think I just wrote a song.”

I played it for him. Afterwards, he looked at me, and said, “That sounds like your book to me.” I told him, that was odd, because every time I thought of my story, that tune came into my head. He then suggested that I should put word to the music. A light bulb went off in my head. Several months earlier, I had worked on a poem written “by” Emily one of characters in the story. Emily is the mother of my heroine, Brenna. I had never been able to find a suitable place for the poem in the book, so I had tucked it away. I retrieved the poem and began playing the song on the piano. It was as though the words just dropped in the music, seamlessly. (Had I been subconsciously writing the two separately, but together?) I have no way of knowing.

In the next few months I played the song until I’m certain my family must have wanted to throw our piano out the door. But if so, they never let on. They were encouraged me to keep practicing and exclaimed that I now had a theme song to my as yet, incomplete book. (I wasn’t sure why a book needed a theme song, but regardless, the book has its own theme song. (Maybe some day…if the book gets made into a movie… :)

Life then happened, and I tucked both the manuscript and the song away. We moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. I couldn’t quit thinking of either the book or the song. I started “hearing” a cello in my head, along with the piano. So one day I decided that I should see if anyone who really knew how to play the piano could put the notes to paper. My sister-in-law’s sister’s husband (whew…how’s that for family connections and a mouthful)…was just the man….Matt Baretich.

Matt returned one day to play me the song, and I was stunned. I then knew that we had to record this song. Asking around town I found a wonderful recording studio KIVA, with Russ Hopkins owner. Russ had some great connections with a orchestral engineer, Jerry Palmer, and tin whistler, Pamela Robinson. (Now mind you, this was in 1995, two years before the movie Titanic came out with a similar sea sound). Then we learned a family friend, Heidi Nagel, was a gifted cellist. Everything was set but the singer. I had in mind the voice I wanted…but had no idea “who” that voice could be.

One morning as I was finishing my step aerobics class at The Fort Collins Club, a friend asked if I wanted to go out for lunch. I told her, that I was going to a recording studio to talk to the owner. I told her that I was getting ready to record a song I had composed. She asked who the singer was going to be. I told her, “I have no idea, but I’m running out of time.” At that moment, a women I had never met who was standing behind me, said, “Excuse me. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I am a singer.” Gill Perkins was her name and she proceeded to tell me that she hadn’t sung a lot but that she had for a few weddings, etc. She said she had a tape recording of her singing if I would like to hear it. I went to her house the next morning, but didn't have any expectations. As soon as I heard her voice, I knew that I had found my Emily! Gill’s voice was haunting and beautiful… and she captured perfectly the essence of Emily. Emily, who for over 19 years believed that her infant daughter Brenna was lost at sea. In fact, Brenna was rescued and raised on an island in the West Indies. For nearly two decades, Emily could not come to terms with Brenna’s death. Something did not feel right.

Once at the recording studio, and I could not have been more pleased with the results. I have never written a song before, and knew nothing about the process.

Once again, life got crazy, and I tucked both the song and the book away again for several years. We moved to Topeka, Kansas. And that is when I finally decided to release the book.

By another remarkable and wonderful twist, I found a wonderful artist, Susan Jenkins of Florida, to do the art for the book’s cover. Susan and i worked together for ideas for the cover. When she finally began painting, she released a youtube video showing her putting paint to the canvas. She wanted to add music to it, and I told her I had just the song. Please click the link on the below if you’d like to hear the song and see the cover coming to life, and let us know what you think!

The Eighth Sea cover being painted by artist Susan Jenkins. The Eighth Sea Theme Song: words and music by Nancy Sprowell Geise. Sung by Gyll Perkins, piano-Matt Baretich, cello-Heidi Nagel, Tin Whistle-Pamela Robinson, Orchestral Enrichment-Jerry Palmer, Technical Engineering-Russ Hopkins. Recorded and Produced at KIVA Recording Studio/Russ Hopkins Production (Fort Collins, Colorado. Words and music: Copyright 1995 Nancy Geise.

Copyright Nancy Sprowell Geise © 2019. All Rights Reserved.