Angels And Idols By Regie Hamm ~ A Book Review
Regie Hamm ~ The Story Behind "Time Of Your Life"
On The Cover ~ The Rise, Fall And Redemption Of A Would Be Pop Star
This book is written by singer and songwriter Regie Hamm, and is a fascinating look into the inner workings of the music business, especially the business of songwriting, along with an absolutely enthralling personal story from Regie Hamm's life. This is one of the best books that I've personally read in a long time. The premise of this book, stories from Regie's very interesting life, are currently slated to become a movie.
We got to meet Mr. Hamm at a recent appearance at a Nashville Unplugged show here in Las Vegas. Nashville Unplugged is a show that features songwriters from Nashville. It tells listeners the stories behind the popular songs they hear every day on the radio. The show is done in the style of "guitar pulls" that often occur at venues all over the Nashville area, and is a fascinating show to see.
Mr. Hamm's story is a marvelous story filled with all of the ups and downs and twists of fate one would expect in a great book. What makes it really interesting is that it is a completely TRUE story. His life has been a fascinating roller coaster ride of ups and downs that might have caused the strongest among us to give up if these events had happened to us. With a strong faith in God, and with an amazing persistence of spirit, Regie Hamm has overcome these obstacles beautifully, and teaches a lesson that even when faced with extreme adversity, the human spirit can succeed and prevail.
In the beginning of this book Regie Hamm tells an interesting story that was often told at holiday gatherings in his home. It is the story of his grandfather in World War II, and is about how Regie's life was transformed by a seemingly "random" event in the year 1945. It seems that Regie's grandfather happened to arrive at a certain forward position in Iwo Jima before the rest of his unit arrived, and he dug a very deep foxhole there. Since his unit arrived later, the other men were not able to dig their holes quite as deep. A very tall soldier asked Regie's grandfather at the last minute to "switch holes" with him since he was taller, and his grandfather's hole was deeper.
The men switched holes, and the taller man lost his life due to a direct hit on the hole he was entrenched in. That one simple, and seemingly "random" act, that of switching places, saved his grandfather's life. I got goosebumps just reading the first chapter of this book, and I knew the rest of the book was going to be just as excellent. In fact, I think my favorite line from the book is "God only knows the moments that change everything."
I absolutely LOVE Regie Hamm's writing style throughout this book. He is a master communicator and exceptional storyteller. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to have the pleasure of a fantastic read of a true story that will keep you totally riveted from beginning to end.
Regie Hamm's career began in Christian music. Raised as one of two sons of a pentecostal minister from the rural South, his background was that of a child prodigy, a self taught keyboard player and a singer who thrilled audiences at a very young age.
When he delved into a songwriting career, Christian music was where he began and was readily accepted. He wrote or co-wrote over twenty number one hits in Christian music, including "I Surrender All" recorded by Clay Crosse. In later years, he penned the mega-hit "Time Of My Life" that was sung by David Cook on the highly popular TV show "American Idol."
The time that passed between the writing of these two songs is the stuff of American dreams, and the stuff that great movies are made of. He decided to step out of Christian music to pursue a career as a pop artist... and in the process, went to China with his beautiful wife, Yolanda, and adopted a gorgeous little Chinese baby girl. A little girl who would change the course of his and Yolanda's life forever.
The Adoption Of An Angel....
The story behind Isabella Hamm's adoption is absolutely fascinating and amazing. The detail Regie uses to describe the Chinese hospitals and the adoption system in China is intriguing. Born in a rural Chinese hospital, Isabella was born into an unfortunate system that placed a lot more value on male babies than it did on female babies at the time.
Under a Communist regime, parents were allowed two female children per family. Once they had a baby girl, then they were allowed to try ONE more time for a boy. If they had another girl, that was it, they met their quota. If the first child was a boy, they were to stop at one because they had met their quota. The end result is an overpopulation of little baby girls that are made to be homeless orphans through the enforcement of this "policy." If a couple had more than their quota of children they were punished with a fine of about $2,600...which is the equivalent of about a one year salary that most average Chinese people could not afford to pay. This left giving up baby girls for adoption as their only way out.
With a brand new record about to be released, it seemed that Regie Hamm was on the way not only to China to pick up his baby daughter, but on the way to a pop career as well. Well on the way to the top of this roller coaster, things suddenly began to crash back to earth. The career didn't happen, and the beautiful little baby girl they were about to pick up from China was born with a missing gene that would render her unable to speak and developmentally disabled.
All of this occurred at the same time when SARS was being dealt with in China, and people with the disease were not being allowed into or out of China. Of course, Regie became sick with a severe respiratory infection that mimicked the symptoms of SARS, but fortunately what he had was not SARS.The fascinating way that Regie describes the country of China, their impressions of the country upon arriving there, and the oddities that seem odd to Americans but are normal in China make this one extraordinarily fascinating read.
By the time they finally returned to the United States with their new little angel, there was no more career... and they were left with a seemingly fragmented puzzle that was their new little baby daughter's condition. No one could figure out why this little girl was an insomniac. Everyone in the family was sleep deprived, and it had to be frustrating not knowing the medical reasons for all of this.
Between sleepless nights, Regie tried to get back into the songwriting business, but the haziness of sleep deprivation was taking its toll. He continued to travel and to put on live shows, but it was difficult to bring in even a little, if any, income. Yolanda went back to work, and they took turns staying with Isabella. Being the parents of a special needs child takes every ounce of strength and energy one can muster... and then you have to go beyond that.
In the midst of all of this, they were asked to adopt a little boy (a young girl had seen their Christmas card on a refrigerator, and asked them to adopt the little boy she was expecting). Random? I don't think so.
Finally, Some Answers...
Then, a chance encounter with a friend one afternoon led to their daughter's eventual diagnosis of Angelman Syndrome. The characteristics of Angelman Syndrome are developmental delays, problems sleeping, feeding disorders, very late walking, and sometimes a seizure disorder is present as well.
In addition, these children frequently laugh and smile and seem to be joyful and even a bit excitable. Angelman Syndrome is also known as the partial deletion of the fifteenth maternal chromosome. Finally, what they were dealing with had a name. Genetic testing confirmed the diagnosis, so now they knew exactly what they were dealing with.
Regie describes in awe-inspiring detail the joys and tribulations of raising a special needs child. It is truly an amazing journey, and I have to say it fostered within me a whole new respect for parents who face the challenges of raising special needs children.
Throughout all of this, Regie was still trying to get some kind of semblance of a career going again, and in a moment of an off-hand comment made by his Wife, their life was about to go through another twist of fate. One evening while watching the show "American Idol," a songwriting contest was announced. The winner would have their song sung on the final show and if the song became a hit, the eventual royalties and credits would soon follow. His wife, Yolanda, encouraged him to write a song and enter the contest, and she rarely if ever asked him to write. This time when she asked him to write a song, he did.
It became a huge hit, it was the song called "Time Of My Life" that was sung on the final show of American Idol in 2008 by that years American Idol winner, David Cook. The song was downloaded so many times that computer servers went down. While walking through a Home Depot one day, Regie heard one of the workers singing HIS song. It was that successful. And he was more grateful than he had ever been for the success.
A Remembered Promise....
When Regie and Yolanda were in China to pick up their newly adopted daughter, Isabella, they were on a bus with other parents that were also there to pick up their newly adopted daughters. All of the parents were talking about the possibility of bringing their babies BACK to China to show them the land of their birth in the year 2008, when the Olympic Games were scheduled to be held there.
Having brought Isabella home and dealing with her disability, they were made aware that the trip to China in 2008 would never happen for them. They would not be able to travel that far with their daughter again. And yet....
They turned on the television to watch the 2008 Olympic Games in China, when Yolanda called for Regie to come and watch. They both stared in disbelief and amazement as his song, the one he had written for David Cook to sing on "American Idol," called "The Time Of My Life" was playing during the Olympics. So, while they couldn't be there, the song he wrote was a part of the Olympic Games in the place of their beloved daughter's birth.
Random? I think not. As I quoted earlier, my favorite quote in the book is "God only knows the moments that change everything." The book Angels & Idols by Regie Hamm is a fantastic book, and one that I highly recommend reading. It will leave memories and impressions in your heart that will change you... for the better.
You can get your own copy of Angels & Idols right here, and learn more about Regie and about his daughter's condition, Angelman Syndrome
Regie Hamm: Singer Songwriter, Grammy and Dove nominations, and winning SESAC's Songwriter of the Year, American Idol Songwriter, Angels & idols
- About Regie Hamm - Bella Bash 2011
- Angelman Syndrome Foundation, Inc. – Research, Genetic Counseling, Diagnosis, Seizures, Angelmans Sy
Angelman Syndrome Foundation, Inc: The Angelman Syndrome Foundation’s mission is to advance the awareness and treatment of Angelman Syndrome through education and information, research, and support for individuals with Angelman Syndrome, their famili