Turn any corner, especially in Hollywood, and you’ll find stories about artists struggling with day jobs while perfecting their art. I met one such artist, Aaron Hendra, when our paths crossed on a construction site. Instead of waiting tables, Aaron spent his days managing contracts and supervising tradesmen in the construction business while perfecting his craft and pursuing his dream as a musician and songwriter. Long years and hard work seem to be paying off.

In the ‘About’ section of The Aaron Hendra Project website, Aaron briefly describes the time between 2001 and 2008 as “years of small acoustic shows by night, and days spent on construction sites.” I had the distinct pleasure of spending several months with Aaron at one of those sites and can tell you that this young man, in addition to being an amazingly quick study in the building biz – he went from a laborer to construction site supervisor in a matter of months when I had the pleasure of working with him in Southern California – is incredibly devoted to his music.

Aaron’s seems to reaping some much due rewards for the years of hard work. In 2008, he met St George, an entrepreneur who “believed in [Aaron’s] songwriting ability and vision.” Together they put together Give Records, and, in 2009, established “a world class recording studio … in the historic Colbourn Estate mansion in Beverly Hills.” Aaron describes it as “a place where songs come to life.”

That life and energy is clearly evident in “One Man’s War” and “October Song,” clips of which you can hear at the Aaron Hendra Project website. “October Song” is also available through iTunes.

In 2010, Aaron met Sam Childers, aka the ‘Machine Gun Preacher‘. Sam is a former biker and drug dealer who turned his life around and, in addition to developing the “Machine Gun Preacher Reality Series,” rescues children kidnapped by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda. Aaron wrote “One Man’s War” in honor of Sam’s work in Africa.

Aaron traveled to the Sudan where he recorded “One Man’s War” with 300 children who have been rescued from the LRA by Sam and his group of freedom fighters. These children live safely in The Children’s Village, an orphanage established by the Angels of East Africa. Aaron’s great song has also been shortlisted for a film about Sam’s incredible life and work, titled, appropriately enough, “Machine Gun Preacher,” helmed by Marc Foster and staring Gerard Butler.

I feel lucky to have had the chance to work with Aaron, albeit on a construction site. I pray he finds nothing but success in his music and in the work he is doing with Sam Childers. I cannot urge you enough to click through the links in this post. Explore Aaron’s and Sam’s work, and, if you have the means, please support them.

—Daniel Crandall