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Singer IDALEE Works with Prison Fellowship Non-Profit to Create Riveting ‘Heal' Video/Documentary, as New EP 'Starting Now' is Set for 3/4
(Published: February 23, 2016)

For Immediate Release                                                                                             
February 19, 2016

It Started With Him Drunk, High on Cocaine, With His Head Through a Windshield; It Has Become an Inspiring Second Chance Story and a Quest for Prison Reform

Singer IDALEE Works with Prison Fellowship Non-Profit to Create Riveting ‘Heal' Video/Documentary, Including Extraordinary Footage of Inmates in Houston (Who Join Him For Performance)

Exclusive Premieres Via Huffington Post and Elmore

New EP ‘Starting Now' Out March 4th

Singer Topher Hall is the embodiment of second chances, and he has reimagined himself as performer Idalee. It started with Hall drunk and high on cocaine, his head through the windshield, as he plowed his car into a parked government vehicle. His battle with addiction has evolved into a riveting tale of redemption, as Idalee advocates for prison reform and delivers an intense music video/documentary that highlights his song ‘Heal' and reveals striking footage of inmates at a prison in Houston, Texas (who joined him on camera for interviews and a live performance of the song).

Huffington Post Exclusively Premiered the ‘Heal' video:
2/12/16 By Mike Ragogna
Direct link to video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R8qoeRZnyA

Idalee provided this commentary to HuffPost:
"What does a second chance sound like? That's what I wanted to know when I started scratching out the lyrics for 'Heal.' Five years earlier, I had put my head through a windshield while deep into substance abuse. I woke up in the hospital and under arrest. Though I'd had a demo deal with Geffen Records and a great team by my side, my addiction torpedoed my music career and nearly cost me my life. But my accident turned out to be grace in disguise. After a period of self-reflection, I returned to why I loved music in the first place-it can move people, and it can heal people. I started going into prison with Prison Fellowship, the nation's largest outreach to incarcerated people and their families. I met guys who were no different than me. I heard their stories, their regrets, and their hopes. I asked myself, Is it really best just to lock people up forever? Is there a point where the debt's been paid and their potential can be reborn? All those thoughts eventually poured out into 'Heal.' Recently, I had an extraordinary chance to film 'Heal' behind bars with a Texas prisoner band for this video. It was an experience I will remember as long as I live. So, yes, 'Heal' is a song about those guys and the millions of incarcerated people they represent. But it's also about all of us. We all fall. We all fail. We all cry out for unexpected moments of amazing grace to come and help us start again. I think if we're honest with ourselves, anyone can relate to that struggle, and I hope 'Heal' gives people hope that their worst moment doesn't have to define them. Check out http://idalee.com/heal http://idalee.com/heal to get the song for free."

Idalee's alt/folk/rock debut EP ‘Starting Now' will be released March 4th, with pre-sales available as of February 19th. It's a meaty, lyrically dense collection that includes such highlights as ‘Barbarian', ‘Some Day', ‘Home' and ‘Tree Got Rain'. Influences include Nirvana, Elvis Costello, Weezer, Imagine Dragons, as well as Cage The Elephant, Ben Folds and Beck. The EP was produced by Ethan Kauffman (Ryan Cabrera) and mixed by Will Brierre (The Killers' Grammy-nominated Hot Fuss, Imagine Dragons' Nightvisions).  Learn more about the story of Idalee, here: http://idalee.com/about/

Elmore Magazine Exclusively Premiered the title track, here:
2/5/16 - http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2016/02/music-news/listen-to-starting-now-title-track-off-idalees-upcoming-ep

            Singer Topher Hall knows all too well the importance of a second chance. Reimagined now under the name Idalee, Hall is starting over. Ida Lee is a park where Hall and his friends spend time causing trouble during his middle and high school days. It's also where he decided to pack up, move to California and shoot for the stars. It's fitting that he's known now as Idalee, in honor of the place where he was inspired to make his dreams come true. After a serious car accident and a battle with addiction, a tale of redemption evolved for Hall, who isn't about to give up on those dreams. Hall pled out of his proposed jail time and was faced with a DUI conviction, fines and parole officer. With demons no longer holding him back, he found a job at a prison nonprofit that advocates for restorative justice on Capital Hill and also in prisons. Prison Fellowship is currently celebrating a 40th anniversary. It's the nation's largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and founded on the belief that all people have inherent value. The nonprofit is committed to helping restore all those affected by crime and incarceration. Last year, Prison Fellowship helped Hall, as Idalee, film an inspirational music video/documentary for his song, "Heal," which features incarcerated musicians in a Houston area prison. The video will be released later this month. Keep an eye on all things Idalee by visiting http://idalee.com . Hall's musical influences include Nirvana, Elvis Costello, Weezer, Imagine Dragons, Cage The Elephant, Ben Folds and Beck. Starting Now was produced by Ethan Kauffman (Ryan Cabrera) and mixed by Will Brierre (The Killers, Imagine Dragons). Pre-orders for Starting Now will begin on February 19th via iTunes. Official release is March 4th.

Focus track ‘Heal', mentioned above, is where Idalee's advocacy for criminal justice reform takes flight, as he partners with non-profit Prison Fellowship to raise awareness via a collaborative Music Video/Documentary project, set to get underway in 2016 - more details will be announced soon. Free download here - http://idalee.com/heal

AXS / EXAMINER - Exclusive Q&A: Idalee's music has the power to 'Heal'  By Laurie Fanelli, 2/17/16

Topher Hall is a master of storytelling, songwriting and reinvention. After a personal wake-up call, he rose from the ashes with a strong voice, powerful message and a new musical identity. Now performing under the name, Idalee , he is set to release his brand new EP, Starting Now (available March 4), on which he shares songs - inspired by his personal journey - that speak to the complexities of life.
One of Starting Now's stand-out tracks is "Heal." With its inspiring message of second chances, the companion video for "Heal" introduces listeners to Idalee's backing band - a collection of talented prison inmates with whom he worked with in conjunction with the non-profit organization, Prison Fellowship . You can meet the band in the documentary-form video above and download a copy of the track for free at idalee.com/heal .
AXS got a chance to chat with Idalee about how his past, present and future combined to create, Starting Now.
Laurie Fanelli (AXS): I am completely captivated by your music and the story behind your new EP, Starting Now. Can you share a bit of what led you to create this album?
Topher Hall: Thank you. Well, the short version is that I finally have my head on straight (enough) to really share my songs. My first attempt at doing this ended with me in hospital. I had a shot - a shot that many aspiring musicians would kill for - a supportive band, great manager, great A&R guy and a demo deal with Geffen Records. I came to L.A. from Virginia with a vision, and my band played every open mic in the city to make it happen. But once we began to work with some major players, our lifestyle became a growing hurdle. Eventually drugs, booze and bad decisions burned some bridges and singed others.
Now cut to me in the hospital after putting my head through a windshield. This was where it all changed. I was drunk, high and just really lost in the world when I crashed into a parked government vehicle about half a mile from my apartment. When I woke up, I recognized the grace - the second chance. I gave up that lifestyle and started onto something better.
I had narrowly escaped jail. I thank God every day I didn't kill anyone. I probably should have done some time. Ironically, through a family friend, I heard about an internship at Prison Fellowship, a nonprofit that helps the US incarcerated population become better people and contribute to society. They were about second chances. I took up some odd jobs for them, and began working in video. In video interviews with prisoners, I heard so many stories of people that sincerely wanted to make good on a second chance. That had a great effect on me. I still make videos for them.
During my hiatus, I never stopped writing songs. But none of them have seen the light of day until now. I've been preparing to do something like this for a while. And after some kind words from my former bassist and best bro James Mason, I decided it was time for a full-fledged attempt to share my stockpile of tunes. It's always been my dream to share songs, and now that I can see straight, I want to try again.
"Starting Now," the title track off the EP, was written in the bathroom of my new place in the Phoenix area. A year ago, I relocated to the Sonoran desert from the DC suburbs. The desert elements have made it into a lot of the artwork and ethos of this EP.
After a past of false starts, Starting Now was my crying out, "I mean it this time. This time is special."
LF: "Heal" is a wonderful song emphasized by a message of redemption. What made you want to work with prison inmates as the musicians on the track?
TH: The song has two sides to it. It's about the incarcerated men and women I've come to know in the American criminal justice system, and the system in general. But it's also very much about my battle with addiction and my own desire to heal. Specifically, I met some men in a Michigan prison a while back and it really provided much of the inspiration for the song. I met with men who try day in and day out to be better people, to make amends, to be there for their families and to get ready for a life on the outside. But when it comes to that last part, the life on the outside, I never got the sense they were expecting a real second chance. In the eyes of society, they're marked now. They're never healed. They're not ready to be a contributing member of our communities. That doesn't sit right.
The song's about longing to know when relief will come.
While a big part of the song is about the criminal justice system, I think we can all relate, because it's also about the human need to heal.
A talented band of incarcerated men was best suited to help tell this story. Those guys played well, sang well and gave our film crew a glimpse into their lives in the system. I'll never forget working with those guys - especially Thomas, C.J., Robert and James.
LF: How does music have the power to "Heal?"
TH: I guess I always assumed music could help heal the damage in people's lives. Now I know. I have heard straight from the mouth of someone who has been locked up for almost two decades that he would not have made it without the healing power of music.
Music gets to us where we're soft. It gets to us where we're not guarded.
I know for me, if there's pain I'm hiding inside - music will find it. It brings context to it. It allows me to examine it, spend time with it and eventually make peace with it. The soothing and inspiration we get from music can mend wounds. At least it has with me.
LF: As someone who has worked closely with inmates, what are some misconceptions that you believe most people have about the present prison system?
TH: There's one thing I would highlight here. I hear people talk with the whole "lock ‘em up and throw away the key" mentality. Regardless of whether or not you agree with that, in reality, 95% of incarcerated people come back to our communities. Most people in prison don't stay there. They come back to our streets. I wonder if most people realize that. If we lock ‘em up and turn our backs until they get out, what kind of people do we expect to return?
I'm not a soft on crime person at all. I just believe as a society we are charged to care about prisoners and our criminal justice system. And if someone doesn't agree with that, I'd urge them to start caring what happens behind the walls, if only because those folks will be our neighbors soon.
LF: Why did you choose Idalee as your stage name?
TH: Ha - It's my hometown's park where my buds and I got into trouble, grew up and hatched plans to give our dreams a shot in Los Angeles. I love it. People say it sounds like "ideally".. which is fine. I say "eye dah lee" but whatever.
LF: What are you most excited about following the release of Starting Now?
TH: I'm excited to work on the live show. Got some possible supporting players popping up lately, and aching to play a proper show. It's been a while since playing the L.A. clubs. I'm excited to share some acoustic versions of the songs and I'm also pumped to work on a full-length album. I definitely have a backlog of tunes to catch up to, and some new stuff on the burner.
LF: Will you be touring in support of the EP?
TH: I have some dates in the works starting in May this year. It's looking like regional dates in the Phoenix and SoCal areas. We'll get a schedule up on the website soon.
LF: Is there anything else you'd like to share with AXS readers?
TH: Well, the song "Heal" is available right now for free as part of my partnership with Prison Fellowship on the "Heal" music video/documentary. Just go to idalee.com/heal to get it for free... do it now!
Starting Now will be released on March 4, with pre-orders becoming available on Feb. 19. Click here to learn more about Idalee's musical journey and keep reading AXS for more music news, reviews and exclusive interviews.

More About Topher Hall/Idalee:
Past: Ida Lee is the Northern Virginia park where Topher's first band and their actor friend spent time breaking the law in middle/high school. It's also where they decided to move to California and shoot for the stars. Topher moved to LA from Virginia, lived there for 3 years or so, and secured a development deal with Geffen Records, working with Evan Peters. Evan and Thom Panunzio produced a short EP, but drugs and squirrely friends in the LA scene provided the distraction necessary to totally let the opportunity slip away.  He then moved to Northern Virginia and started working various odd jobs. After a drug-induced car crash, he woke up in the hospital and finally woke up to the demons holding him back. He pled out of his proposed jail time and escaped with only a DUI conviction, fines and parole officer. Serendipitously, he found a job down the street at a prison nonprofit that advocates for restorative justice on capital hill and in the prisons themselves.

Current: He performed in a Houston area prison
late 2015 with prisoner musicians supporting
the performance. He is slated to perform in
prisons in 2016 and release a 6-song EP called
"Starting Now." Idalee is living, breathing second
chance. His rocky past made him who he is, but he's been clean for several years and striving to make a better life and society. He is a writer first, singer second and guitarist third. He's watching sci-fi movies and reruns of the Simpsons. His ethos is part Elvis Costello and part Kurt Cobain, which is fitting because those are two major influences of his. He's got plenty dumb looking glasses and cheap wool sports coats. His voice is humble, and he's not super outgoing, and although he works in some depressing areas of human existence, he's got a great sense of humor and shares it online and off.

Twitter /idaleemusic

More Information: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R8qoeRZnyA

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