Just weeks before he passed away from terminal blood cancer, songwriter Paul Johnstone asked one last favour from his friend: to finish the song he had been working on.
Graham Taylor pledged to keep that promise. Now, two years on, he and his daughter, Natalie Taylor Gray, are releasing the finalised version of Believe In Me tomorrow (Friday), ahead of World Lymphoma Awareness Day on 15 September. All proceeds from the single will be donated to cancer charity Bloodwise.
Speaking to Jewish News this week, singer Natalie, who attended Middlesex New Synagogue in Harrow as a youngster, said it was a huge honour to release the song in memory of their “funny, lovely and talented” friend.
“For someone who knows they are dying to ask a friend to do something for them after they have gone, is huge.
“He trusted us enough to know we would deliver his wish. That’s amazing – to do something for someone after they have gone, no matter how much of a challenge it might be.
“Nothing would have stopped me or my dad from doing this for him.”
Paul and Graham met six years ago at a song-writing workshop and soon struck up a friendship.
Natalie recalls: “Paul asked my dad to look at some songs and they agreed to work together on one in particular – Believe in Me. My dad suggested Paul and I do an acoustic version, and it was lovely.”
But soon afterwards, the musician’s health began to decline. In 2013, Paul found a lump in his leg, which was first diagnosed as a hernia. Just months later, 54-year-old Paul was told he actually had an aggressive lymphoma.
He began chemotherapy but, by September 2014, doctors delivered the tragic news they would not be able to save him. He passed away two months later.
“Paul phoned my dad just a few days before he died and asked to make him a promise,” adds Natalie. “He wanted him to finish writing the song and eventually release it, with me singing it, to raise money for a lymphoma charity.”
The song revolves around a woman striving to believe in herself and trust her own abilities.
“If only she could do that, she could reach for the stars and achieve beyond her wildest dreams,” says Natalie of the “inspirational” song.
She adds: “My dad and I didn’t just want to fulfil our promise to Paul, but to do so in a way that would have made him proud, to create a fabulous final version of the song, and to let people know just how talented he was.”
Believe In Me is released on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon on Friday. All proceeds will be donated to Bloodwise