Local Music Teacher Wins US Publishing Deal

A music teacher has landed a five-year deal with an American publishing and licensing firm thanks to a song he penned in memory of his daughter. Mark Ayles currently works with special needs schools in Biggleswade, Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Kempston

Mark's song ‘You Should Be Here’ was written as a way of paying a heartfelt tribute following the death of his young daughter, Maia.

The song was re-recorded with well-known local artist Denny McCaffrey taking on the vocals while Mark plays the piano along with music friends from local bands

The 2013 recording has been picked up by Music Of The Sea, which is based in Chicago and Los Angeles and which provides music for film, television, advertisements, video games and for big-name artists to rerecord.

Mark explained, “My daughter Maia was born in 1999, but she had a very rare congenital condition which affected her muscles, her breathing – everything really. She was at Great Ormond Street Hospital for two and a half years, cared for by her mother, Moana, and me, until we got her home with the help of a 24-hour care team from Bedford where we lived together until Maia passed away in 2003 after being at home for nine months.

“After Maia died I wasn’t in a very good place for a couple of years, but then I started delivering music sessions at the Ridgeway School in Kempston in 2005, which was Maia’s school when she got back to Bedford, and then in 2006/07 I wrote You Should Be Here.

“At the time, it was purely a tribute to Maia. Her mum is from New Zealand and she went over there to bury Maia’s ashes with her grandad’s. I wasn’t able to go so I recorded a version of the song with me singing to play at the service.

“I play piano and keyboards with various local groups including the Denny McCaffrey Band. He’s always liked the song and in 2013 we got together to record another version of the song with him singing and lots of friends and fellow musicians came together to help make the video.

“What I want to stress is that although it started as a tribute song to Maia, I never wanted it to be a sombre song, but rather a song for everyone. At Christmas time, there are always lots of people who are missing others. It’s something that people can empathise with, and the song has had a very positive reaction which is wonderful.

“I often submit our songs to MusicXray [which puts musicians and songwriters directly in touch with industry professionals and marketing firms], and this year they were looking for Christmas songs so I submitted You Should Be Here. On the back of that, Music Of The Sea got in touch because they really liked it and offered us a five-year publishing deal. So, Denny and I sent everything over to them and they are now pushing it for films and to various artists.

“It would be great if someone like Michael BublĂ© picked it up, but whatever happens the interest is great because previously it was just sitting on YouTube. Denny’s also sent over another song of his own called Midnight Express so we’ll see what happens. As they say, ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’.”

Mark Ayles works with Central Bedfordshire Council music service.