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Jordan Erdman plays “Love Will Change” on the piano in the Sevens-Gate recording studio at his home in the town of Troy. He wrote the song looking at photographs of adopted children when they were orphans. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)

Jordan Erdman returns to making music

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The recording studio in the lower level of Jordan and Shirley Erdman’s home in the town of Troy sat empty for nearly seven years.

Before kicking his drug and alcohol habit, Jordan spent countless hours in the studio, composing songs on the piano and recording them on the state-of-the-art equipment.

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But after returning clean and sober from a sojourn in Florida, he avoided the studio, associating it with his past lifestyle.

“Years and years are going by, and I haven’t written or recorded anything,” Erdman recalled in an interview at his home last week. “There was just this fear I had of doing it again.”

But recently, Shirley had an idea for him. Her friend from their days at Hudson High School, Angelique Dove Hatch, needed a song for a YouTube music video promoting the child-advocacy organization she serves.

Hatch and her husband, Dan, have four children, three of whom are adopted. She’s the co-founder and president of the International Child Advocacy Network, a nonprofit child advocacy organization, and serves on the board of directors of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, based in Alexadria, Va.

The Hatches had a harrowing experience adopting their oldest child, daughter Emerson, from India more than a decade ago. Angelique had been putting music videos on YouTube promoting the Joint Council and its Make Change for Children Campaign, but they would be taken down because the pop music she used was copyrighted.

Shirley asked Jordan to write a song for Angelique.

“They needed a song, and there was a deadline, so I really couldn’t procrastinate. And I just threw the kitchen sink at this thing,” Erdman related.

It’s not much of an exaggeration.

Erdman returned to his studio, put pictures of the Hatchs’ children when they were still orphans on the music stand, and commenced composing.

“He doesn’t read music. It just comes to him and he plays it,” explained Missy Germain, a Hudson High School classmate of Shirley and Angelique, and the publicist for Erdman’s Sevens-Gate Recording Studio.

Erdman also wrote the lyrics.

“Love will reign … it brings flowers to a lonely plain,

“Love finds a way … it brings sunny skies to a cloudy day,” the first verse declares.

Then comes the chorus.

“Love will change the children,

“Love will change the heart of man,

“Love will change random words to rhythm and rhyme,

“Love will change the world … one child at a time.”

Erdman hired Tommy Barbarella, former keyboard player for Prince, to play piano and B3 organ.

He brought in Tonia Hughes Kendrick to be the soloist and added a gospel group featuring Billy Steele, David Hurst, Sara Lucille Renner, Darlene Miller and NeeCee Spearman-Davis.

Then recalling the haunting sound of the boys choir in the movie “The Lost Boys,” he arranged for the Land of Lakes Choirboys of Elk River, Minn., to be part of the production.

Erdman, Hughes Kendrick and Adam Colt, an employee of Erdman’s electronics company, spent half a day in Elk River recording the boys choir’s part in the music video.

Tony Axtell was hired to play bass guitar, Brian Kendrick provided the rhythm on the drums, and Derek Nakamoto played violin and cello.

Erdman hired a California string section to arrange and record an accompaniment at the famous EastWest Studios in Hollywood.

Then he sent the recordings to Los Angeles to be mixed by Rob Chiarelli, and on to Nashville to be mastered by John Mayfield.

The recording and engineering was done by Erdman and Colt at Sevens-Gate Recording Studio.

“I hired the very, very best musicians in town, and the best vocalists,” Erdman said.

Two days before the scheduled release party at the Erdmans’ home and studio, the video he had hired a company to produce arrived – and was subpar. Erdman and Colt went to work editing their own video and had it ready in time to show the 40 to 50 guests, who included many of the musicians who contributed to the project.

“Now that it’s finished, I just feel like I’m back to doing what I was put on this earth do,” said Erdman. “I don’t want recognition or fame or fortune or all those things that I used to think were success in the music business. Every dollar that I’ve spent on this studio is to help people and change people’s lives – help them understand who God really is.”

Shirley asking him to write this song was just another act of God in his life, he said.

Redemption Erdman is the son of the late Jack and June Erdman, well known in Hudson for their involvement in the St. Croix Valley Arts Guild, and its successor, The Phipps Center for the Arts.

June was the director of The Phipps Children Theatre for years. She then founded the S.O.S. Players, a troupe of teenage actors who put on skits addressing issues faced by teens.

What isn’t widely known is that June’s own son was having problems.

Jordan Erdman said he was introduced to drugs and alcohol at age 13, and was addicted to them throughout much of his life, until getting sober seven years ago this December.

“It just led me down many, may bad paths. I struggled with it my entire life. I was never married. I’ve been through treatment centers four or five times. I’ve totaled cars. I’ve been in jail. I’ve been shot at. For all rights, I should be dead,” he said.

But in spite of his addictions, he founded and operated a successful company that installed high-end audio and video systems in homes, businesses and public buildings.

In 2006, he sold the business and moved to Florida, thinking that a geographical change might help him get clean. But his addiction to oxycodone landed him a Florida psych ward.

His life changed forever, Erdman said, when Shirley, who had gone back to Wisconsin because of his drug use, arrived at the institution carrying a bassinet.

He remembers being told that someone was there to see him and being summoned to the door of the facility. He hadn’t seen sunlight in two or three days, and was blinded by it when the door opened.

“And Shirley’s standing there, and I look down and there’s a little bassinet. That was my daughter in the bassinet. And for the first time in my life I understood what love is.”

Erdman hasn’t used drugs or alcohol since then.

“It was just a miracle. That was a life-changing day for me,” he said.

He has formed another electronics company that is just as successful as the first one, and it’s smaller, meaning he can be personally involved in each project.

He’s written about 200 songs in his lifetime. Some of them will be revived and put in a rock opera he’s working on. The last song of the opera, he said, will probably be “Love Will Change.”

You can view the music video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYl1B_vv95c, or by going to the Sevens-Gate website, www.sevens-gate.com.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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