FACES OF KOREA - John Walker 'Rain Dreaming'

by G. Walker, 19/01/2016


John Walker AM, the Chairman of the Macquarie Group of Companies in Korea, has just last week released his second music album “Rain Dreaming”. This follows hot on the heels of “12 Bridges” which was his debut album 12 months ago. As with “12 Bridges, John wrote and performs all of the songs which, this time around, are more “country” in style. The albums are recorded and produced in Seoul.

Up until his late twenties, John was a very active musician and performer, having studied classical piano and jazz guitar in his youth. He also composed a number of rock songs in that period and took his band into a number of talent shows playing those songs in Australia. John then launched into a career in government and then investment banking and as he says “let his guitars gather cobwebs.

When moving to Korea in 2000 to establish Macquarie’s business, John soon rediscovered his guitar. He says he had no choice as nearly every business meeting involved Karaoke and every Korean person he met had an infectious love of music.

Although John began playing his guitar again, he did so in the privacy of his own apartment for a number of years. But in 2011, he was approached to join an amateur band then known as “The FORCA Band” and now known as ”The CEO Band” in Korea. John recalls his great nervousness in again playing with a group of other people, who were doing public performances. His guitar playing was very rusty and his singing even more rusty.

Over time John’s confidence grew and he began to feel more comfortable and in 2013 he began to compose again. His first 12 songs are stories of many events over the 2013 and 2014 period and include songs about Malala Yousaffi, about natural disasters and a number of political events.

John and his wife Gina are very focused on philanthropy and decided to donate the proceeds of 12 Bridges to two charities. The first of this was the Philippines Red Cross to support the victims of Typhoon Yolanda and the second, the center for the Elderly in Korea, which supports older people living alone. The Album had launching parties in both Seoul and Manila and both were used as fund raising events for these two worthy causes. 12 Bridges continues to be available on itunes, Melon, Spotify and Amazon and continues to sell and raise money. Cathay Pacific also carried the Album for 12 months on its in-flight entertainment system.

“Rain Dreaming” contains another 13 songs and the title is inspired by John’s business travel throughout 2015 where everywhere he went, including Korea, countries were gripped by drought. The first song on the album “Watching for the Rain” was written at his farmhouse in Australia as he sat waiting for much needed rain. Most of the songs, however, were written in Seoul. They include numbers about life, love and special moments. For example,”Back in Australia” describes John’s feeling when he visits Australia.

A special feature of the new album is the song “Flying Butterflies” which is the theme song for a new global humanitarian foundation being introduced by “The World Tae Kwon Do Federation” which will support children in refugee camps. This foundation has the full backing of the United Nations and indeed the song was played at a joint WTF UN event last year. The issue of refugees from middle east conflicts is one of the greatest disaster that the world has faced according to John, who is joined on this track by a children's choir.

As was the case for the first album, all proceeds are to be donated to charities with the primary one being the WTF Humanitarian Foundation. The album will be officially launched in Seoul and performances in Tokyo and Manila will also occur over the next two months. John is also very hopeful of some performances in Australia and Hong Kong this year. These will also be fund raising events for the Foundation

The backing band and back up singers for both albums are a group of top session musicians and singers, and John’s friend SS Lee is the musical director and arranger of the songs. The quality of the music and sound really reflects the great Korean musical tradition and mastering technology.

John says he can never thank his “new home” Korea enough for the gift of bringing back his music and for the gift of business success, which has allowed him and Gina to reinvest that success into worthy causes. Gina is also an active animal welfare person and founded and runs moonbears.org which seeks to have the laws on bear farming in Korea changed.   

In the album John equates rain with human kindness and generosity.
To use his words as appear in the CD Cover-
“It seems so much of the world needs more rain.
To dream of rain is to dream of happiness
It is to dream of growth
It is to dream of peace
It is to dream of plenty for all
Rain brings a generous spirit and a forgiving heart
The world needs more rain”

Following are links re the Rain Dreaming album:
Rain Dreaming website 
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