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TORCH SONGS: Lean on Ady

Everyone has moments when things get tough, but we all have a favourite track that can turn things around. A single song can change how you feel. That’s your Torch Song — it lights the way out of the dark.

Artists including Years & Years, Elbow and The Vaccines have recorded exclusive covers of their Torch Songs for CALM and now R&B star Ady Suleiman, an official ambassador of CALM, has released a stunner in the form of Bill Withers’ classic, Lean On Me.

Check out Ady’s Torch Song below – available now on all major streaming platforms.

With sold-out tours and some properly amazing EPs under his belt, Ady has enjoyed the highs of being a musician. But he revealed exclusively to the Independent how the unexpected lows have caught him off guard:

“I was selling out venues. I had been signed to a major label, released two singles and was working towards the release of my debut album. As you would expect I was experiencing some extreme highs. But also some curious lows that caught me off guard… I first noticed the effects when I had a serious panic attack before a live TV interview.”

It’s something that had quite an effect on him, and when you throw in the turbulence of a private life and the pressures of being signed to major label, it can take over. He continued:

“When you’re in music and signed to a label people assume you’re living the dream so you can’t really complain. It was the first time I had experienced becoming totally overwhelmed by my thoughts and emotions… I was anxious and bewildered about what had happened.”

Though he’s still struggling with some of the symptoms, Ady rightly reckons it’s important to take a step back and look after yourself. In his feature with the Independent he goes on to talk about realisation, rest and regaining control:

“After my last tour I decided I wanted to regain much more control over my career and have less people having sway over the decisions being made… When the pressure was off I also had the chance to re-evaluate my situation and I realised just how much the stresses of the industry and the push and pull with my label had had on my mental health. Sometimes you don’t know exactly how you’re feeling until you stop and check in on yourself. But I have found things that have helped, primarily looking after myself and being aware of what I am putting into my body.”


So – about that Torch Song. The singer-songwriter from Nottingham is a huge Bill Withers fan (us too!), but what was it about this song that spoke to him? In a recent interview for CALMzine, Ady explained:

“I love Bill Withers and this song in particular is so special. It’s a feel good tune and always picks me up. The lyrics encourage me to reach out to people when I’m low which always helps.”

But it wasn’t that straight forward. He told the Independent how, with a little help from his mum, Lean On Me came to be his Torch Song.

“When CALM asked me to do a Torch Song I was honoured. Funnily enough, at the time, I had never really had a torch song as such. It was my mum who suggested ‘Lean on Me’. I thought the message was perfect. And what started out as a borrowed torch song is now my undisputed Torch Song.”

Head over to the Independent to read Ady’s thoughts in full. Visit to hear more exclusive covers and find out what happened when we went to Field Day and asked festival goers what their Torch Songs are.  

Be sure to let us know what your Torch Song is via #WhatsYourTorchSong.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

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