“International Christmas Child” a Gift of Love That Keeps Giving

Christmas Decor 2014

It is unusual, but I think this is what it feels like to love the world; to place the hope for our future on our children, believing that they can succeed where we have failed.                                                            Matthew Todd


Matthew & Nathan Todd

 Each year when I ponder what the Christmas Article should contain, I always consider what will make the greatest impact or best benefit the young artists represented and promoted through this site.

With Christmas being a time of giving, I could not think of a greater example of young artists using their talents to help make a difference in the world than the INTERNATIONAL CHRISTMAS CHILD project.

This CD project spearheaded by a band of brothers from Scotland is a great example of adults helping “Children helping Children”. I asked Matthew and Nathan Todd to share a little about this project with Rivenmaster’s Place and provide insight about each participating young artists.

 Matthew shared;

“I’m coming round to the belief that, just as adults all have an unwritten responsibility to support and nurture children, children have an unwritten responsibility of reminding adults what is important in life. They do this, often, simply by being themselves.”

Guitarist 3D GuyBackstory:

Matthew and Nathan Todd have been running projects for a few years now, all with the goal ‘to inspire and transform’. What could be more inspirational and transformational, they thought, than an album of children singing to help children? What they could not know was, if any would join them in their quest……….

Matthew went on to explain;

“One word could sum up the whole month of October for us: “Apprehension”. The messages were sent out to artists and their managers on October 12 and we awaited the responses. We were asking for a track from about 16 artists which could be included on a compilation album raising funds for Operation Christmas Child. Then the drama began! After several weeks of language barriers, messages going to fake accounts, communications being lost in cyber-space and time rapidly running out, we arrived with 14 young artists buzzing with enthusiasm and ready to submit.”

2015 SantaThe process that followed getting the tracks mastered, artwork made, albums duplicated, website up and promotion started would take pages to describe but, suffice to say, Nathan and I spent many sleepless nights (and days!) at our computers in every spare moment. Nathan being a full time student and a partner in GN Todd (web development), was literally working around the clock, meanwhile I was trying to communicate with 14 different artists, often in languages I spoke very badly or not at all! Then our brother Phil came on board to make our promo video and our cousin Tom got involved with promotion. A generous friend of my fiancé agreed to translate our press release into French, and a professional media consultant got us an article in the Herald. This was becoming bigger every day!

I remember walking into our little Glasgow flat (aka ‘The Ladz Fortress’) about 11pm on a cold November night after a hard day of teaching and choir directing, and seeing Nathan working on the website, Phil (visiting) editing the promo video and Tom working on an animation for our logo. I sat down to answer a message from France and had to stop to think out loud: ‘this is awesome!’ “Nobody told me that making a difference would be this much work, but nobody told me it would be this exciting and fulfilling either!”


The Album:

Our biggest challenge is that people are so bombarded with advertising, especially at this time of year, getting someone to buy something is a real challenge. We in the Western world have also become quite emotionally numb, finding it hard to trust big charities or organizations and no longer believing that buying one CD or even one track on iTunes really can make a difference. To be honest, we are still a long way off our goal which was to raise £2500 (over $4000) for Operation Christmas Child though we are over half way there, but there are other goals which have exceeded our expectations. Every young artist on the album went out of their way to promote the album and some even made personal videos to recommend it to their fans.

There is no currency for inspiration and yet, without it, the whole world could one day just decide to give up. As I promote these young artists, watch them sing and see them sharing their gifts with such passion and enthusiasm I feel a strange tug on my heart-strings. How is it that I can feel a sense of pride and joy in children that are not related to me and, most, not even from my country? It is unusual, but I think this is what it feels like to love the world; to place the hope for our future on our children, believing that they can succeed where we have failed. And, like my God who loved the world so much he wanted to give the best Christmas present anyone could give, it inspires me to give my all to make the world a better place.”


Featured Artists on the Album in order of track placement
Introductions by Matthew Todd

Continue reading ““International Christmas Child” a Gift of Love That Keeps Giving”

Musical Duo “Blackberry Jam” Launching CD and Begin Acting Career

Blackberry Jam Profile Photo

Our last update for Adrian Chirtea and Julian Woodrow or better known as “Blackberry Jam” found them enjoying songwriting and recording sessions with teen vocal artist Thilo Berndt from Germany, after attending last year’s Prodigy Camp in Washington State.   The two boys, who are identical twins, have now expanded their careers venturing into acting as well as continuing their song writing and vocal recordings.

“Blackberry Jam” is more than just two creative young men with an incredible ability to entertain and make you laugh. These guys have continued to hone their skills leaving me without doubt that their first album, which is currently getting ready to be released, will be more than a huge success!

How it Began

Blackberry Jam 2014
Blackberry Jam


The boys who have been singing since they were in the third grade kicked off their professional career at 14 years of age after begging their Mom to take them to audition on the X-Factor. That successful audition led them all the way to the boot-camp portion of the show before being eliminated.

“It was a fantastic experience where they met scores of budding artists which really cemented their resolve to become musicians;” their mother Heather exclaimed.

Over the following two years the boys published YouTube videos every two weeks, earning them over 2.3 million hits and 14,000 subscribers. This motivated them to develop their instrumental skills in ukulele and guitar. Last year both boys were awarded scholarships to attend Prodigy Camp under the direction of Rick Stevenson which set them on course to become amazing young songwriters. In fact, this month they will return to Prodigy Camp with yet another scholarship and an album full of original songs.

Continue reading “Musical Duo “Blackberry Jam” Launching CD and Begin Acting Career”