Marc Scibilia in his East Nashville home studio. Photograph by Travis Commeau

Creating for God’s Pleasure: Marc Scibilia Finds Transcendence In Tragedy

Like many Nashville musicians, singer and songwriter Marc Scibilia’s career has been on pause for the last few months. With touring and the other revenue-generating options off the table, having a 10-year-old demo of his song “How Bad We Need Each Other” become the centerpiece of two national marketing campaigns was an especially welcome surprise.

“That version of the song was never officially on an album, just a five-song EP I sold on tour,” says Scibilia. “My friend Aaron Mercer, who’s a licensing guy, always liked that version. He played it for Samsung and they loved it. From that, the people at [the nonprofit developmental aid organization] water.org heard it and loved it too.”

Both the Samsung and water.org campaigns were built around the challenges of the pandemic and how people are adapting to the “new normal.” It’s a process Scibilia experienced first-hand as he crafted his forthcoming album, Seed of Joy. Although work began on the record prior to the appearance of the novel coronavirus, it was birthed while Scibilia was witnessing the cycles of life and death in close, personal terms.

“We had just had our daughter about two weeks before we found out my father was terminally ill,” says Scibilia. “I’d fly to Buffalo, spend a week with him, and then fly back to be with my daughter who was just learning to walk at the time. It was crazy to see the two opposite paths of life at the same time. There were a lot of profound experiences because of it. My dad had very open eyes about what was happening. There wasn’t any denial about the situation. He wanted to embrace [the end of his life] and see the beauty in it. I think when you try to deny the tragedy you miss out on the blessings.”

After his father’s death, Scibilia was ready to begin recording. That’s when another tragedy struck, this time global in scale.

“When the country and the world shut down I went into my basement studio and spent three months recording and finishing the record,” says Scibilia. “I collaborated with people via Zoom for a couple of the tracks but mostly I was on my own. It was a really effective time for me.”

Check out an exclusive look (and listen) to “I Care For You Now” off Scibilia’s forthcoming album, Seed of Joy.

Although Scibilia had never made an album by himself, years of recording at home prepared him for the long hours of solitary work — a skill he credits to his father’s influence.

“When I was about 15 years old my dad took me to Guitar Center and bought me a cheap little multitrack recorder and a microphone,” says Scibilia. “He said I should learn how to record even if it was on a basic level. I hated it at first. I thought music was about singing on a stage and signing autographs, but I really fell in love with the craft of creating.”

The resulting album, Seed of Joy, is an examination and celebration of life’s exquisite beauty and sadness. Experienced through both beginnings and endings, it describes a circle whose joys and sorrows can only be completely appreciated together, in totality. Scibilia believes this has been brought into even sharper focus by his experiences of the last few months.

“I talk to a lot of people who quietly under their breath say it’s been one of the best seasons of their life, but everyone feels a little guilty about saying so,” says Scibilia. “Obviously, there’s death and tragedy; I’ve lost a couple of friends in the New York area. But as far as our family, I’m normally traveling one to three times a month, and my wife is traveling at least once a month. Instead, we’ve been together, and I got to watch my daughter grow up for seven months. There are a lot of things sold that we don’t need to buy, metaphorically speaking, and when something like this happens you realize what you truly need.”

Featured in Jeep’s “Beautiful Lands” Super Bowl ad,
Scibilia’s version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”
was the most Shazam-ed moment of Super Bowl XLIX.

With touring still an unlikely prospect for many months to come, Scibilia is looking for new ways to market his new record and deliver it to an audience — including a planned livestream of the entire album from his backyard. By whatever means, he’s determined for the music to reach an audience for reasons much deeper than simple fame or financial success.

“My music came from my father,” says Scibilia. “I wanted to do something to honor his life. This album is special to me. It’s like that quote from Eric Liddell in the movie Chariots of Fire, ‘God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.’ With this album, I feel God’s pleasure a little bit.”

Check out preview tracks from Seed of Joy at marcscibilia.com and follow him on social media @marcscibilia.