Since his song “Clouds” was shared around the world in 2012, millions have been touched by the story of Zach Sobiech, the Minnesota teen who bravely channelled his battle with a cancer into music. Now, a year after his death, Sobiech’s fans and loved ones are celebrating his life and legacy in many ways, including through a reissue of his band A Firm Handshake’s album Fix Me Up, and through today’s publication of a book authored by his mother, entitled Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mother’s Small Prayer in a Big Way.
In the book, Laura Sobiech tells Zach’s story from a mother’s perspective. In one passage, she recalls the night that Zach played “Clouds” at First Avenue for the Current’s 8th Birthday Party in January 2013, sharing the stage with local all-stars like Chastity Brown and the 4onthefloor.
A couple of local radio stations had been playing “Clouds” on a regular rotation. The Current, a local public radio station that showcases local talent, was one of them. They were hosting a huge, multi-night, sold-out event at First Avenue that featured several local artists and bands. A band named 4onthefloor was the headliner for the event, and the lead singer, Gabriel Douglas, had gotten in touch with Scott Herold to see if Zach would be interested in playing “Clouds” with him on the main stage.
Zach was ecstatic! Just seeing a concert at First Avenue was on his bucket list. Playing on the main stage was something he didn’t dare to even dream about.
I was terrified.
First Avenue, the stage made famous by Prince, was a place for seasoned artists. It wasn’t a place for rookies.
Despite Laura’s fears, her son delighted the crowded room, achieving what the Current’s Andrea Swensson called “the emotional apex of the evening.”
The crowd yelled, clapped, and whistled with enthusiastic appreciation. Zach had done it. He’d played in front of a packed house at First Avenue, and he’d made them happy.
Zach’s life ended on May 20, 2013 (read Andrea’s tribute, published that day), but his legacy continues. Fans can catch up with Zach’s family and friends in an inspiring and heartfelt new SoulPancake documentary, My Last Days: Zach Sobiech, One Year Later.
KT Lindemann is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Morris, pursuing studio art and Spanish. She is a native of the Twin Cities and is a wannabe musician, artist, and music writer.