A chain of very unusual circumstances led to Mike May regaining low vision after 43 years of total blindness, lost at age 3 from a chemical explosion which nearly killed him. A book about his life and adventures was a Best Seller in 2007 and was number 54 of all Amazon books for the year. It is called Crashing Through by Robert Kurson and a movie by Fox is in the works.
Since regaining vision in 2000 and sharing his story in the book Crashing Through, Mike May has experienced firsthand the way that inspiration can inspire.
When Mike May serendipitously met singer/songwriter Sara Beck at a tiny Nashville bar, the power of his story dovetailed with his lifelong love of music and resulted in the following chain of events that inspired Beck, as well as countless Nashville musicians, singers, and songwriters.
“I was attending a conference in Nashville and went alone to a famous entertainment venue, the Bluebird Café, an unassuming hole in the wall in a strip mall off the turnpike. In typical fashion, there were 4 local artists performing, two famous song writers and 2 new singer/song writers, everyone singing and playing their own tunes.
To take full advantage of my new vision, I sat at a small table crammed against the stage where I was six feet from one of the new performers, Sara Beck. I really liked what I could see and when she began singing, I fell in love. Her music was passionate and the words meaningful and cleverly crafted. Her voice was amazing and I knew right then and there, Sara Beck was someone special.
Immersed in the sound of her music, I was also enjoying my newly acquired vision. I could see the stage lights reflecting off her guitar and I could see how she flipped back her blonde hair. I could hear the smile in her voice but hard as I stared, I couldn’t actually see it.
After the performance, Sara stepped off the stage next to my table. She introduced herself and said, “You are going to have to explain something to me. I see you have a Seeing Eye dog but I could swear you were looking into my eyes when I was singing. How is that?” I said it is a long story but the short version is that I can see a little after being blind most of my life and I am still learning to see. There is a book about me coming out in a month and I’ll send you a copy if I can get one of your CDs, which she handed me and off I went to my conference.
I sent Sara the Crashing Through book when it came out in May 2007 and we traded a few emails. On July 1, I was with my wife at the No Barriers conference in Squaw Valley. We were sitting in our room and she was helping me to visually distinguish the jagged mountain peaks just out our window.
My computer announced a new email with an attachment named, Crashing Through. I assumed it was from Robert Kurson. When I clicked on it, it turned out to be an MP3 file and Sara Beck’s voice flowed out of the speakers and all around me. I sat there with my wife, looking at this beautiful view, sobbing as the story of my life and my passions was told in 3 short minutes by Sara Beck with a Crashing Through song. I never quite cared for the title of the book but once I heard the song, Crashing Through took on real meaning.
Fast forward, six weeks later, my mother OJ died. She was a real hero of my life and of Crashing Through. I emailed Sara and invited her and her husband to the memorial in October. They agreed to come to the outdoor ceremony in the Napa redwoods.
Sara, her husband Park and 2 musician friends were performing the first song for the ceremony when none other than Stevie Wonder and his bodyguard walked down the redwood lane. Stevie asked her if she knew Amazing Grace in C. She sang and he played the harmonica. This was the most “goose bump” version I have ever heard. I had played some of Sara’s music for Stevie and when he met her he said, “You are fantastic because you sing like you really mean it.”
Two months later, the spontaneous chain of events continued. Stevie called me to say he was performing in Nashville and could I ask Sara if she would join him. Not to miss this monumental concert, several of us flew to Nashville, met Sara’s parents and proceeded to hear Sara Beck perform on stage with Stevie Wonder. A local Nashville news service said the next day, “Where has this girl been hiding? If Stevie Wonder has discovered her, why hasn’t a major label signed her yet?”
Eighteen months after I spent 5 minutes with Sara Beck in that tiny Nashville bar, she released her first record. She co-wrote and performs one of the songs with Keith John, Stevie’s long time back-up singer. Stevie is slated to play on, To Love Somebody, one of his favorites and the one she performed with him at his Nashville concert.
It all started because I happened to wander into the Bluebird and because Sara took the initiative to give me the gift of a song with absolutely no expectations. The vision I had when I met her has to do more with what I felt with my heart and musical soul than it did with my relatively new eyesight. Now with her new record, Music from Lovers and Fighters, the world can also meet Sara Beck, smart, passionate, beautiful and exceptionally talented. She says of our serendipitous meeting, “You should know that from my end, a huge part of the magic of this story is not only what it has meant to me personally and to my musical career, but what it means to the musical community here in Nashville. We are all so used to dealing with representatives of representatives in the music industry and talking about marketing instead of music. For me to meet Stevie and to have such a straightforward interaction, has reminded everyone I know in Nashville that no matter what, it is always about the music, which is pretty close to the message of "Crashing Through" that life is, in fact, about setting goals and believing that there is always a way to achieve them.”