I know this guy. Comes from Brooklyn, 29, tall, dark, handsome, amazingly talented and nice! And talk about inspiration?? Good grief – even if I wasn’t raised Catholic, I’d still probably feel guilty about not writing when I think of what he is doing this year.

“This guy” is Ari Hest. He is a musician/singer/songwriter (I’ve never thought to ask him his preferred title…) Ari has released several CD’s, including “The Break In” last year while under contract with Columbia. Yup, this guy is the real deal – a contract and everything. Had it made. Except for the fact that he wanted to have more control over his music and getting it to his ever-expanding fan base. Ari decided to walk away from the contract, to take his career back into his own hands and (get ready for the world’s most famous split infinitive) to boldly go where few musicians would have enough chutzpah to follow.

Ari decided to challenge himself a little. To step outside his comfort zone, and step he did. To me, calling this a step is like calling Barrak Obama “popular”, or Oprah Winfrey “successful” – it doesn’t come close to describing the magnitude of the situation.

Ari’s “step” is a little project called “52”. Ari is writing, recording and releasing a new song every week this year. The downloads are available by subscription on his website (www.arihest.com), and at the end of the year, subscribers will vote on the top 12 to go on his next CD. Happily, 999 people other than me think this subscription is an amazing deal. (Amazing is a word I use a lot in conjunction with Ari’s talent…) Last thing I heard, there were 1000 subscribers (and still time, folks!)

I haven’t decided if I’m more impressed with the concept of this project or the fact that the quality of the music and lyrics is so good week after week. As I listen to the 30 some odd songs released so far, I keep thinking “Oh, I love this song…and this song…. and this song”, yeah, this guy’s good.