Date: 04/26/2012 Print This Post



With a Tour in the Works, the Multi-lingual, Multi-talented “Ambassador” has Traveled to the Country of Iran on a Peace Delegation and Met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations, Done Humanitarian Work in Costa Rica, Colombia and Ghana, and This Year Heads to both Pakistan to Help Raise Awareness for Education and Israel/Palestine for a Diplomatic Mission with Interfaith Peace-Builders        

Is it too simple and cliché to call Ed Hale a comeback kid? We all thrive on stories of people reaching the pinnacles of success after crashing to rock bottom, so here goes…

Five years ago, rock star, activist, volunteer and entrepreneur Ed Hale found out that everything he owned had been stolen by his business partner and former girlfriend. He was forced to move out of his plush Manhattan Upper East Side townhouse, became homeless for a while before moving in with three roommates on the other side of town. He let go of his swanky Park Avenue office to work from home instead. The multi-talented New York City-based recording artist ( kept his chin up and told his friends and family not to worry, that in less than five years he would “rebuild the empire.” He did.

Hale is now getting the last word, hanging out with superstars, seeing his name in Billboard Magazine on the Adult Contemporary charts and more — thanks to his unexpected smash hit single “Scene in San Francisco,” the second hit from his stylistic leap of faith, a toned down acoustic solo album entitled Ballad On Third Avenue.

Cracking the Top 15 on the FMQB AC40 chart puts Hale smack between Colbie Callait, Jessie J, Kelly Clarkson and Christina Perri — and gunning for even loftier company in a Top Ten that includes Adele, Gavin DeGraw, Coldplay and Maroon 5’s hit “Moves Like Jagger.” “Scene in San Francisco,” a moody, soulful tune that Hale artfully describes as “whisper pop,” has also spent weeks in the Mediabase and R&R A/C Top 30 and has been the #1 Mediabase AC Independent Artist and Active New Release for eight straight weeks. Adding to its cool cred, the song is also enjoying heavy airplay on Sirius XM’s “The Blend”, AOL, Music Choice, and countless other outlets and is being licensed by major companies such as Apple and Microsoft.

Prior to “Scene in San Francisco,” Hale scored big with another city song, the subtly political new-folk tinged acoustic ballad “New Orleans Dreams,” which reached #10 on the FMQB AC chart in the U.S. and received heavy airplay in 21 other countries. Heady stuff, even for a guy who’s been the frontman of a band—Ed Hale and the Transcendence—that’s been a critically acclaimed Brit pop/Modern Rock sensation for years, touring the world, placing countless songs in film and TV and cracking the Top 30 on Modern and Alt rock charts multiple times.

“The promoters who were working the song told me that ‘Scene in San Francisco’ could enter the Top 40 in five months, but it went to #28 in Billboard in five weeks, then #25,” Hale says. “Friends call from all over the country saying they just heard the song in their car or on the beach or out somewhere. It’s crazy. And fun. And a bit overwhelming. We don’t sleep now. All we do is work. I’m supposedly a brand now. We open mail from giant corporations who want to license the song and use it for all these different things—TV shows, music websites, corporate branding… it’s been an amazing 2012 so far!”

Hale has evolved spiritually through the ups and downs, often times publicly. He doesn’t wear his religion on his shirt-sleeve, but he doesn’t hide it or evade questions when asked about his spiritual beliefs. He believes in God and prays a lot, so he’s comfortable using some tough metaphoric imagery in describing his unique career dilemma. A sudden, unexpected and reluctant rising star in a format he never courted, he’s grateful for the excited attention but doesn’t want to be categorized as “just an AC artist.”

As a singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer leading a band of insanely talented, powerhouse musicians, Hale has over the past decade been all about an awesome, huge sound. He’s worked relentlessly to establish himself as an eccentric innovator in the world of rock ‘n roll and cultivate a bona fide image around that. “My life with Transcendence is all about giant guitar chords, jumping up and down and running around that stage all sweaty as the drums are crashing and smashing behind me,” he says. “It’s about having (guitarist) Fernando Perdomo on his back flailing around like he’s having a fit or something while he’s squealing and wailing on his guitar. So this AC thing, having a hit with such a chill song… it’s just really different.”

The fascinating tale of Hale’s expansion from rock star to mellow pop dude begins with his move from Miami — where The Transcendence has a huge rehearsal room, perfect for ear-splitting — to New York, where he lived alone in a smaller apartment miles away from his band. The limited space and proximity of neighbors led him to practice on his array of acoustic guitars, which inspired the prolific writer to pen gentler acoustic songs that were more emotional and intimate than his Transcendence output.

Friends and girlfriends kept telling him that singer-songwriter stuff was really popular and that he should consider doing an album in that vein since he already had the songs for it. For various reasons, some personal, some business-related, Hale says, he and his band mates two years ago decided to all record solo albums, “just to let loose and allow ourselves to make music that we are not normally permitted to in Ed Hale and the Transcendence where we already have a name and a sound and a style. The idea was for each of us to build up a small following that would lead up to the release of the new album we were about to release, All Your Heroes Become Villains.

“So I recorded the Ballad On Third Avenue album,” he continues, “because a lot of people, including my now wife, suggested that I should release something more acoustic and less chaotic and bombastic, something with less instruments and more focus on the song and the vocals. I recorded it in Fernando’s garage studio in Miami, under a major time crunch due to budgetary constraints. Five weeks straight. No days off. No sleep. I became very sick and was hospitalized for what we call in the business ‘exhaustion.’ It took me three months to recover from that, but from the moment I heard the album, I knew ‘this is the one.’ I can’t say why exactly. It was just a knowing. The way it sounded. I remember listening to ‘New Orleans Dreams’ and starting to cry, just out of sheer joy—a feeling I couldn’t put into words.”

That’s the kind of organic, heartfelt emotion that fans of AC generally eat up—but as happy as he was with the recording when he released it in 2009, he had no idea of its format potential. He was more than happy with its #14 debut on the College Music Journal (CMJ) Most Added Chart and the fact that it stayed in the CMJ Top 200 all summer. CMJ and college campuses had always been receptive to Transcendence as well. So Hale took time off to spend with his then girlfriend, now wife who inspired “Scene In San Francisco,” an era he likens to “Paul McCartney’s time with Linda on the farm in Scotland.”

While pursuing this cross-country romance (Hale lives in New York, his wife lives in Seattle), out of the blue he started getting calls from a series of commercial radio promoters who envisioned songs from Ballad On Third Avenue as future AC hits. One of them, knowing about Hale’s formidable philanthropic, political and charitable activities, thought “New Orleans Dreams” would tie in well with an American Red Cross event there. Embracing the challenge, Hale called engineering wunderkind Zach Ziskin to remix and shorten some of the songs. He then signed on with veteran promoter Tom Mazzetta and “New Orleans Dreams” quickly hit #10 on the FMQB Chart. Two years after releasing a so called interim “one-off” album, Hale was a bona fide Adult Contemporary artist. Then along came radio promotions maven Sam Kaiser who took Hale into the stratosphere and the Billboard Top 30.

While the team behind Ed Hale continues to fuel his AC success as a solo artist by day, Ed Hale and The Transcendence keep right on jamming and planning. While their long awaited, Fred Freeman produced set All Your Heroes Become Villains, released last November, enjoys a steady stream of critical acclaim and accolades from their fans, the group—true to their name and trademark restless creative form—is getting ready to release another new album entitled The Great Mistake. This one is an 11 song set of totally raw indie garage rock one-offs they recorded to blow off steam in between longwinded sessions for the Heroes recording. “We were being horse-whipped by this producer into making the ‘perfect commercial rock record’ nine hours a day in one studio,” Hale laughs, “and at night we’d go into Studio B when we could to rock our asses off and had the interns record it. And it just came out so freaking good.”

Also in the works are Hale’s follow-up solo album, titled either Knee Deep in the Apocalypse or Born to Lose (Born to Lose may say more about Hale’s cautious view of pop stardom and his concern over “losing his indie cred,” or it may just be another of those trademark Ed Hale mysteries…). There’s also the 24 track, two-disc set called L’ntrigue de Femme/Finding Francesca that Hale and band have been working on for the last few years that rumor has it will finally see a release in 2012 much to the excitement of the fans.

While conquering various genres with his eclectic musical explorations, Hale has also become a passionate diplomatic ambassador of sorts, well known for his frank and sometimes over the top brand of social and political activism–at times showing up at anti-war rallies either sporting his trademark F*** WAR t-shirt or dressed up like a United States Army General who walks around carrying a United States flag with the words “World We’re Sorry” spray painted on it. (Isn’t that illegal?) He has set up alternative covert headquarters for non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders to make calls and write emails during rallies and protests against such organizations as the WTO (World Trade Organization) and IMF (International Monetary Fund). One of his goals is to speak at the TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment and Design).

Over the past few years, Hale has also become an official Civilian Diplomat. Pursuant to a nomination by a sister of the Episcopal order who he met on a spiritual retreat, Hale was chosen in 2008 to attend a 15-day Peace Delegation to Iran where he and 11 other Americans–including Rolling Stone contributing editor Robert Dreyfuss and writer Larry Beinhart (“Wag The Dog”)–were hand-picked to meet with leading government officials, including former President Mohammad Khatami and leading religious clerics and Ayatollahs to discuss ways to improve U.S./Iranian relations and increase peace between the two countries.

A few months later, Hale appeared at the 2008 United Nations General Assembly Meeting in NYC to attend a private conference with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and leading figures of the U.S. peace movement. He’s planning a tour of Pakistan to film a TV documentary focusing on two American-owned schools for girls started there and plans to participate in a two week peace delegation to Israel/Palestine this year with the IFPB (Interfaith Peace-Builders) organization.

The singer is also involved in a great deal of global volunteer endeavors; six months before he was in Iran he traveled with Habitat For Humanity to a remote village in the center of Ghana on the West Coast of Africa to construct houses of mostly mud and clay for the native people. His film clips of the experience, called “Going to Ghana,” have amassed thousands of views on YouTube. He has also taken similar trips to Colombia with Habitat for Humanity and the United Methodist Christ Church of New York City. And again, one is intrigued by Hale’s willingness to not hide his religious affiliations from public view, which is rare in the very secular world of the music business.

“Yes, I want to help change the world for the better and help create an enlightened planet without war, disease, poverty or untruths—and I do take ‘The Ambassador’ thing seriously,” says Hale. “So many of these countries are being bullied by the powers that be, including their own governments and they need our assistance. Whenever I can, I also take off and do volunteer work, whether it’s rebuilding someone’s house in New Orleans or building a house for a family for the very first time in Africa or playing big brother to a local kid having a tough time fitting in. For me, this is the big payoff of being The Ambassador or being a ‘rock star.’  Without all that to complement and inspire the music aspect of my life, I think life would feel very shallow and empty.”