The timing could not have been any more perfect. In the beginning of 2020, the band Tenth Avenue North was sensing that it was time for the group to move into ministry and music individually. With the mass pandemic, it actually opened a door for Mike Donehey, founding member and lead vocals/guitar, to reflect and settle into his new role as a solo artist. Now he’s releasing two EPs. The albums certainly are reflective of Tenth Avenue North, but Donehey portrays his own personality and intimate process on these releases.
Looking Back to Tenth Avenue North
As a teenager, Mike was in a potentially fatal car crash. He learned to play the guitar while stuck in bed recovering from his injuries. Through learning the guitar, he gained an interest in songwriting, which led to the formation of the band Tenth Avenue North. After two decades as a band, Tenth Avenue North determined it was time to focus on family and discover their roles as individuals, so they set out on a farewell tour.
Their farewell tour was cut short due to the global pandemic. Mike Donehey found himself stuck at home, wondering what was next. “Being in a band is amazing,” shares Donehey. “There’s a sharpening and a refinement that happens when you bring songs for a group to work on it.” But now, Donehey was on his own. He began writing as a therapeutic process to deal with the abrupt end of his band as well as being on lockdown.
Through his time alone, he realized that it wasn’t the end of his music career, but the beginning of his career as a solo artist. “I think I’ve written more songs this year than I ever have in that span of time of being home,” Donehey explains. So he did what any artist would do. He set up a Kickstarter campaign. Unexpectedly, he reached his goal in less than 24 hours. With the funds raised, he is able to produce two EPs as well as a full-length album which will be released later this year.
A Work of Art
“The Work of Art EP is all about the different things it takes to make and keep beautiful relationships. The songs are about listening, becoming less defensive, radical ownership and radical acceptance,” states Mike Donehey who knows a bit about relationships. Not only does he have an incredible connection with former bandmates after two decades, he also has an outstanding tie with his fans, who support him wholeheartedly.
It’s not that he has an intimate connection with his fans, but more so that they embrace him and what he’s doing. Donehey’s success with his Kickstarter campaign was proof of his ability to connect with people through music. “Encouraged is not the word to describe my Kickstarter campaign,” expresses Mike Donehey. “To hit the goal in 13 hours was like getting a heart transplant you didn’t know you needed. FLABBERGASTED. CONFOUNDED. OVERWHELMED. GRATEFUL. These words only begin to scratch the surface of what it means to know that my making music still matters to anyone. To blow past the goal so quickly was everything I didn’t know I needed.”
A Father and Two Sons
A Father and Two Sons EP is an exploration of the well-known parable of a prodigal son. Donehey writes three thematic songs, each from a different character’s perspective. He’s delving into how we, as humans, react to and accept the scandal of grace.
While listening to the album, it’s easy to envision Mike sitting at home pondering this familiar scripture. Where before, he could gain the insight of his fellow band members, now, he’s looking at each person’s perspective as an individual. “There’s an intense freedom I’m feeling working on songs on my own. Ironically, I feel like it’s releasing me to be much more eclectic than I was before. I have a very broad appreciation for genre and lyric, and now, on my own, I’m able to explore much more unchartered sonic territory than I have before.”
Looking Forward to Mike Donehey solo artist
In addition to the release of these two EPs, Mike started his own podcast Chasing The Beauty where he shares how to look for God in unexpected places. He’ll release his first solo full-length album this fall which continues to delve into Donehey’s spiritual journey of recent years. “My full-length album is due in the fall, and it is about my spiritual journey and the things I’ve been wrestling with lately. From starting over, to stepping into the unknown, to forgiving people I don’t want to, to loving my wife and children better.”