The day their second child was born was a lot more difficult than Jesse Norell could have ever imagined.
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The singer-songwriter from Minneapolis, Minnesota assumed daughter Alyssa’s birthday would be similar to his son’s, filled with nothing but joy and intense love for his new child. Instead, Alyssa was born with life threatening health issues indicating a lifetime of challenges ahead.
Alyssa has Down syndrome and a heart defect. She had her first heart surgery when she was only 5 months old, and since then she’s had multiple medical tests, procedures, and a second surgery. Jesse says those early days were dark and scary for him and his family, but over time, they have overcome the darkness and are now enjoying their days in the sun!
Since Jesse has always used music to process his feelings, he poured his heart into a new album based on his family’s journey. It’s called “Aorta Borealis,” and it’s inspired by Alyssa.
“So ‘Aortic Borealis’ makes reference to the heart, and makes reference to the Northern Lights,” Jesse explained. “The heart stuff is a prominent on the record because she’s surviving heart surgeries, then Borealis makes a reference to the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights are something you can only see when it’s dark. And I felt like I had to talk about the darker parts of our story because that makes the end of the record, when we’re talking about family and the joy of staying together and having each other, it makes it that much brighter.”
While writing the songs, Jesse says he didn’t hold back about the intense feelings of grief, loss, and despair he felt in the early days of Alyssa’s life. According to his website, the first half of the album is “darker” and “features story-driven set of songs,” followed by a lighter, happier second half with “celebratory” songs.
Jesse hopes his experience with Alyssa will help other parents who are struggling with their kids’ health problems.
“I didn’t sugarcoat any of it,” he said. “I wanted to put out all of the feelings that I had on that day, and part of that is trying to let other parents know in the same situation that it’s okay to have all these big feelings.”
He hopes that someday, Alyssa will hear the album and understand how much joy and happiness she brought to their lives in spite of her health concerns.
“Our family’s story had some rough stuff in it,” said the proud dad. “And we came through, and that’s worth celebrating.”
“Aortic Borealis” dropped on March 4th, 2022 so be sure to check it out! You can listen here. We wish Jesse the best of luck with his new album. There’s no denying he crafted it with all the love and respect a father can have for his child.
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