Stage 4 Head and Neck Cancer and losing his voice from severe radiation and chemo treatments set the stage for Derek Vanderhorst’s long recovery and the return to his passion of music. His journey to reclaim and reshape his life at the age of 50 set the stage for his raw cathartic and humorous storytelling style.
Supported by his amazing friends Gabe Witcher of the punch Brothers Jimmy Paxson of the chicks and world renowned bassist Mike Valerio Derek released his first solo album Wildflower, available streaming and on CD and Vinyl.
With Wildflower, Derek hopes to empower and inspire others that it is never too late to find your voice: During recovery, he took stock of his life and relationships, writing over 150 songs in the process. Eleven of those songs make up Wildflower– an album which captures his extraordinary personal journey.
After forging a successful Hollywood career as a sought-after musician, sound designer, and re-recording mixer for film and television–including the Academy Award-nominated No Country for Old Men, as well as Hidden Figures, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye– Derek is now pouring his renewed passion and dedication into music of his own. He’s known as the “go to” mixer for blending dialogue and music to create powerful and emotive film soundtracks– and these skills translate effortlessly on Wildflower.
“It’s an album of metaphorically and emotionally going home and becoming grounded,” Derek explains. “It’s about finding song and nature and balance in life. Mixed in is also a humorous look at my childhood to present day.”
Derek was first introduced to music at the age of 5 with piano lessons but embraced guitar, mandolin and banjo in his teens, touring with the bands Leaf and The Rosemarys, before being managed as a solo artist in the 90s by Les Garland (Co-founder of MTV and VH-1). These experiences led him to L.A. where he found his way to the film world and his success in that realm, but also led to him putting down his guitar for 20 years.
Wildflower, then, marks a triumphant return: From the dreamy sounding, “Baby,” to the beatnik folk tone of “Hanging On Your Door” to the fast-driving country feel of “Hillbilly Princess” Derek shows his dexterity on instruments while embracing his unique vocal style. “It’s one thing to learn to sing better– and it’s another to literally find your voice again,” he says. “When I almost lost my voice, I realized how much I had to say through song.”
He describes his music as folk, Americana, and story-telling music and the lyrics on the song, “Can’t Fall in Love With You” bear out his songwriting skills—These old shoes wear like an old lost friend | Haven’t got a thread or a stitch to mend |Old sayings true no place like home |But these walls are empty and I’m left alone. “It’s a song about feeling alone during my cancer treatments and a cheeky reflection on a relationship that had run its course.”
The title track, “Wildflower,” is a fast, melodic, and uplifting song with a bit of a country tinge that Derek sings with the help of Miranda Lee Richards. “It was written as a duet. I wanted it to be a love song that emphasized the different roles in a relationship and how we can each be the light in dark times. Jason (Soda) played me a video of his old band with Miranda singing and right away I fell in love with her voice. She is amazing and up for anything and came in and made the song magic.”
The album ends with “Shake Shake Shake,” a song that comes in under 2 minutes. “This was the first song I wrote when I picked the guitar back up after 20 years of working too much. I was with my fiancé walking our dog around the neighborhood and started singing it to her. It’s a very simple, cute love song and the music is a tribute to all the punk bands I loved when I was a teenager.”
Now with a post-cancer outlook on life– and a renewed dedication to music and songwriting– Derek hopes to inspire others to find their voice and relentlessly pursue their passions. “Anything is possible—I didn’t think I’ve ever be able to sing again let alone release a solo album. Life is short and relationships matter. Be grateful for everything that we have and pursue your passions and dreams at any age or stage in your life.”
– Derek Vanderhorst - Vocals, Guitar, Melodica, mandolin, banjo, harmonica | Gabe Witcher (The Punch Brothers fiddle | Mike Vaerio (Faith Hill) Bass | Johnny Bradley(Gary Clark Jr.) Bass | Jimmy Paxson (Dixie Chicks) Percussion | Duet on "Wildflower": Derek Vanderhorst and Miranda Lee Richards
Co-Produced by Vanderhorst and Valerio | Engineer Mixer- Jason Soda of Palomino Sounds | Engineer- Eric Sampson of Wildflower Studios | Engineer - Vanderhorst at his own Summit Post Studios
Derek’s first solo album Wildflower is now available. For information about upcoming live events please join the mailing list.