News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Songwriter kickstarts debut album

Joel Chadd of Sisters is pursuing his lifelong passion for music by releasing his first debut album.

Chadd grew up in a musical family with his father being a professional musician, and his grandma in her youth being a performer in Big Bands. Chadd played drums in middle school but put music on hold for many years, until at 23 years old he decided to pick up the guitar and learn. “I began teaching myself guitar and writing songs when I was 23 years old on my mom’s nylon string guitar (thanks to her encouragement) and I haven’t looked back since,” said Chadd.

“When I found music again, and what it really meant to me, was when I found my form of self-expression when I was in search of understanding myself.”

There was an effortlessness and ease to doing music once he got back into it and figured it out. He and his siblings grew up singing in church, so he had always had some affinity for singing, but now it was his form of self-expression — singing and songwriting.

“Creative writing and writing had also always been a passion of mine, so I was able to combine music with the writing aspect as well,” he said.

Chadd waited to go to college until he was surer of what he wanted to pursue in life. He got his two-year associates degree from COCC and from there wanted to figure out a way to integrate music permanently into his life. At the time, Breedlove Guitars in Bend was hiring and he jumped at the chance to get involved and have a foot in the door in the music world while still being able to pay the bills. He worked there for two years before moving to Sisters where he began to work under the mentorship of Preston Thompson of Preston Thompson Guitars.

“There is really where I got to get involved with music, and I was building every day, and working with Preston as a mentor was amazing,” he said.

Chadd worked there for five years before finally deciding to pursue his own music full-time starting in February of 2021.

“I knew it was the time to step away and focus on my own music,” he said

Chadd is also a photographer, and he frames artwork for local artists. He also is continuing to repair instruments out of the studio he and his wife, Sheila Dunn, have in Tumalo.

“I really love to work with my hands, so we have our studio where I build and repair and work on music and my wife paints. But 100 percent music is at the front,” he said.

Chadd’s debut album, “Ghost of You,” is in the process of being produced and contains tales of a lifetime of experience dealing with pain, grief, and loss.

He has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to fund completion of the project.

“I think in art and music there’s a lot of different inspirations behind it, but for me driving a lot of influence on this album was the passing of my mother and father-in-law and the loss of Preston and how impactful those losses can be,”

he said.

The title track, “Ghost of You,” touches not only physical loss of a person, but perhaps the loss of a relationship.

“It plays on that connection that we have to ones that have been lost or we’ve encountered in life,” he said.

Some of the song lyrics were ones he had written at 24 years old that are just now coming into song form, and some are brand new.

“It felt fitting to title it with what is one of the most influential songs to the rest of the album,” he said.

This is Chadd’s first time putting together an album. He worked with local musicians, family members and producers.

“[The album] is also kind of a reminder that I don’t want to be someone who looks back and realize I didn’t pursue my passion in life,” he said.

Keith Banning of Grange Records in Sisters helped Chadd produce his Kickstarter video as well as handling the audio engineering.

Chadd recorded and produced the record with Scott Oliphant, co-producer, recording engineer, and owner of Parkway Sounds Studio in Bend.

The album process overall has been two-and-a-half years of recording and producing.

“With it being the first album, I didn’t want to rush anything with the amount of creativity surrounding it,” he said.

Dunn did the album cover artwork.

“One of the biggest reasons I write is it gives me the ability to articulate my thoughts into words in a clean way and express what means the most. Music is a way of slowing down,” said Chadd.

The Kickstarter campaign for the album will be running through December 17, which is the last day to donate to project. For more information visit

The album doesn’t have a set release date, pending the completion of the project being funded.


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