Although the major fighting in Iraq may be over, many American soldiers remain stationed there. For their families at home, life is a trying, day-to-day affair. Songwriter Paul Reeves recently tapped into the hearts of those with fathers, sons, husbands or other loved ones still serving in Iraq with his country-rock ballad Patiently Waiting. It's performed by his group, Fanny Grace, that features Paul's longtime friend and collaborator Carmen Mejia on lead vocals. The song has captured the imagination of Southern Californians.
Their timing couldn't be better. Fanny Grace's Paul Reeves and Carmen Mejia had been together almost 10 years, performing relentlessly around the U.S., until the duo won a contest called Most Promising New Unsigned Artist of 2002, sponsored by a Los Angeles country music radio station. Paul says they were grateful for the honor but it was an even bigger thrill to hear that people were embracing his new song Patiently Waiting.
"A young girl called the radio station saying she sent it [a copy of the song] to Iraq because her brother is stationed over there. And he got back to her and he said they loved it and the troops were listening to it," explained Paul Reeves. "We thought that's great, people are getting something from it and it's helping people get through this time. And she was dedicating it to her brother and wishing him well in getting home safely."
"They told us after about three or four days that it was their most-requested song. They were getting calls every day," Paul Reeves went on to say. "We were in a store one day just buying some jeans and we heard the radio which happened to be KZLA and they said, 'Coming up we have the most-requested song of the day.' And we said 'Oh cool, let's hear what this is,' and it was Patiently Waiting. We were shocked. We went to Las Vegas a few weeks later and we played [Patiently Waiting at] the pre-party [concert] to the Academy of Country Music Awards and [also at] the after-party, and we could see people in the audience singing the lyrics. They knew the lyrics and they had the theme to the song down. People were approaching us saying 'I've got family over there.' We also had some men who had been in wars years ago come up to us saying 'I've heard that song. It's a beautiful song for the troops.' And we were very touched by that. It was great."
While Paul Reeves came to United States from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Carmen Mejia is rooted in the music of California. Part Native American, Carmen says she can't remember wanting to do anything else but sing.
"I've just always loved singing my entire life," she recalled. "I didn't have lessons and no one in my family is really a musician or anyone I could have been influenced [musically] by as a little kid. I just remember singing to every single song I heard every single chance I had, in the car, in the shower, in my room. If there's anything I can remember about being a little girl, something I always wanted to do was sing."
Half of the proceeds from the sale of each single of Patiently Waiting will go towards supporting the families of American troops living in Camp Pendleton, California. The song will appear on an upcoming Fanny Grace album.