Angels in White Long

In the summer of 2019, a friend called me one afternoon. He liked my original music very much and had an idea. He had lost his wife to cancer the year before and asked me if I would consider recording one or two of her favorite songs for a CD which he could pass out to friends and family as a memorial to her life. As I listened to him share some of her experiences as a nurse, I hesitated for two reasons even though I thought it was truly a good thing he was asking me to do.

As a songwriter, recording other artists’ music is just not my forte. I’d written and recorded well over 100 songs, but I had never recorded a cover song before. The other problem was more personal…

Two years earlier I had been rear-ended in a car accident and was still struggling with severe concussion symptoms that forced me to optimize my life and cut out just about everything that wasn’t necessary. I had done a lot of interviews for my last E.P. “Pawns” and things started to take off, but after the accident, I found I had to budget my ability to focus and had stopped playing music altogether. Being self-employed running my marketing company meant if I didn’t work, I couldn’t pay my bills. On the other hand, as an Australian friend once told me, artists need to practice their art to be psychologically healthy. Though I was doing my best to heal while continuing to work, it was clear that I was missing this important part of my being.

My Martin D-15

As I continued listening to the stories he shared about her life, I found myself writing down lyric lines that kept popping into my mind. After a few minutes, he had to hang up to collect himself. The memories were painful for him. I sat there stunned at the seriousness of what was happening. I stared at my guitar within arms reach and hesitated while having an internal debate. Twice I stretched out my arm to grab it but withdrew. Finally, the thought occurred to me that if there was ever a reason to play music again, this was it. It wasn’t for money. It was to do something truly good for one of the kindest people I knew and it could serve a double purpose of thanking all nurses and healthcare providers for their compassion and professionalism. Like my friend explained to me about his own wife: “Nurses often have some very difficult experiences but they somehow have to find a way to keep going, year after year.” Whatever happened, this was a truly good thing to do. Little did I know how many “coincidences” would regularly occur throughout the process.

Singing the Vocals

I picked up my Martin D-15 guitar and wrote the first half of “Angels in White” while I waited for his call back. A few minutes later, when he did, I read him what I had written and it was clear that this was what we were supposed to do. The writing process took just over 1/2 hour. It was as if I had been given a gift to give. That evening I laid down the first draft recording so I could compose the string orchestration. Luckily for me, my mother who has been playing violin all of her life, was only a couple of weeks away from a visit. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have my Mom play on this song?” The only problem was that although I could record my guitars and vocals in my home studio (once I got it all set up again), I couldn’t guarantee that a neighbor’s lawn crew with mowers and backpack blowers wouldn’t ruin recording the violins during the few hours we would have. I needed to find a studio that was nearby.

Dan Keeler & Matt Fitzgibbons

I had mixed and mastered my 2nd E.P. (“Patriot 2“) at Roxbury Station only a few miles away some years before. The engineer who did it was no longer there but the owner Marc Weisgal (one of the finest guitarists I’ve known) said the studio was available the one day we would have. My mother flew in with her favorite violin and we headed straight for the studio where we met my buddy Dan Keeler who had agreed to produce my vocals. Marc suggested we lay down 6 violin tracks and overlay them to create the feel of an entire string section and it worked like a charm. I also decided to record the drums there rather than take mine out of storage, clean, tune and set them up just to record them in my home studio… all for a two-minute section. Of course I brought my own snare for that .308 sound I love and my favorite cymbals. (Yeah, I know…. I’m a typical drummer.)

Frank Brocklehurst & Matt Fitzgibbons

The next time we met, I had the privilege of meeting and working with Frank Brocklehurst (an incredible musician with an impressive resume playing and recording with world-famous musicians.) Marc Weisgal (the owner of the studio) recommended him as the best guy in the region for two of the parts I needed players for: contrabass for the 2nd verse and electric bass for the choruses at the end. I typically play electric bass myself, but having a pro do it with their own take would only help the groove of the song. I could also have used synths for the contrabass parts I had composed for the violin parts to compliment, but it wouldn’t have been the same. There’s simply no comparison with an experienced player, let alone a master, especially for the “Eleanor Rigby”-type arppegios I envisioned between the vocal lines. When Frank walked in, it turns out that he and Dan were longtime friends who had just spoken a few days earlier! I never mentioned his name to Dan, only that Marc had recommended someone excellent. “An interesting coincidence”, I thought.

Tanesha Gore & Matt Fitzgibbons

The following studio session I met Tanisha Gore. She is as nice a person as her voice is beautiful. I had explained to Marc over the phone a few weeks earlier that under ideal circumstances, I would love to have a powerful, earthy female vocalist accompany me rather than me over-tracking myself for harmony. It works on some of my pieces, but for a song about nurses, I really needed a lady. If you’ve heard the song then you can easily imagine how happy I was with the results. For the end choruses, Marc tracked us at different distances from the mic ranging from 3 feet to 20 feet to create the big choir sound behind the close-up vocals.

Angles in White Artwork

Although the song had been written many months before, I thought that the chorus at the end could be repeated one more time. I made a rough draft mix and decided that I needed to get some opinions. At this point, only the people who were working on the song had heard it. One Friday night, at the local pub, a friend of a friend came in. After a few beers and dinner, before the music changed and the customers got younger and louder at the bar, the three of us went back to my place to hang out for a little while before calling it a night. I saw this an an opportunity to find out what someone who had never heard “Angels in White” thought of it. He agreed. When the song ended, he said it was really good and asked me if I had known that he was a nurse. I hadn’t. It was yet one more “coincidence”.

Marc Weisgal

Recording progressed slowly from that point. Some people had to postpone because they were sick with colds or the flu, others were working double-shifts to pay their upcoming holiday expenses. The next time I went to the studio, I asked Marc about an idea I had to end the song with a powerful but melodic lead guitar solo on top of the choruses. He smiled at me and said, “That could work. I’ll do it. It will be my gift to nurses and to the project”. That lead still gives me chills every time I hear it.

A few days later, I saw my friend who I had written “Angles in White” for some towns away at an event packed with people. I sat down near him, though he didn’t see me. He was speaking with a man so I waited for a break in the conversation to say hello. When I did, my friend’s face lit up and he introduced me to the man he was speaking with saying, “This is the guy I was telling you about… the musician who wrote the song for my wife”. His friend then said, “As a nurse myself, I’m sure it will be appreciated”… And another coincidence.

A.J. Sorensen

At the end of February 2020, recording was done. Next came mixing and mastering. I approached my friend A.J. Sorensen, engineer and owner of Sure Sound Studios in Bridgeport. A.J. had mixed and mastered my last two E.P.s (“Entitled” and “Pawns“. Within a week, COVID-19 dominated the headlines. Normally, to get a song mixed would mean waiting at least a few weeks but as “social distancing” became the new catch-phrase, recording sessions were cancelled and A.J. was able to get to it in only a couple of days. We completed it by the end of the week working remotely and I sent it to Dan Keeler’s friend Will Quinnell of Stirling Sound who had offered months earlier to master it. What Will did in mastering to enhance what A.J. had done in mixing was amazing.

As I waited for the final product, I began collecting royalty-free images for the video so I could get the video out as soon as possible once the song was finished. As hospitals began to fill and reports of healthcare workers struggling with supply problems became common, it was clear that nurses in the hardest hit areas were working under tremendous pressure. My hope was that “Angels in White” might help boost their morale. Finding the royalty-free images for the video took a few days and creating a final version for upload took another 2.

I had a problem though. There were no modern photos of nurses with face masks anywhere online that I could use. I mentioned it to A.J. and I could hear him smile over the phone as he said, “My mother is a nurse… I’ll ask her”. Later that day, my oldest friend Troy called me out of the blue. I don’t think we’d spoken in 5 years. We spent some time catching up and I told him about the song and my problem finding modern photos. He told me that his daughter was a pediatric nurse treating COVID-19 patients in Florida. A couple of days later, he and A.J. sent me several photos their family members had taken for me to use. If I ever believed in “coincidences”, I don’t anymore.

The two goals of creating a memorial for my friend’s wife (Susan Carol Bolack Sulier, L.P.N.) and to thank all nurses have been accomplished. To everyone who has contributed generously to this project and to those who have liked and shared the video… Thank you!
-Matt Fitzgibbons


“Angels in White” ©2019, Matthew Fitzgibbons (ASCAP)
(for Susan Carol Bolack Sulier, L.P.N.)

It’s been two whole days since she’s gotten a wink.
She heads to a cot for an hour.
A quick bight to eat and then back on her feet
and if time allows maybe a shower.

A child is crying, his mother is gone
and nobody else hears his call.
She turns back to help,
like an angel in white… and flies down the hall.

Her smile doesn’t hint at the things she’s seen.
She washes the blood from her clothes.
There are times when she just has to cry it all out.
She does it so nobody knows.

And someone just learned their loved one has died.
It happened too fast for goodbye.
She gives them a hug
and finds them a room… the one where she cries.

They’re the angels in white.
They’ll be there through the night,
to make your loved ones right.
They’re the angels in white.

They’re the angels in white.
They’ll be there through the night,
to make your loved ones right.
when a soul takes flight,
they’re the angels in white.


Matt Fitzgibbons: Music, lyrics, arrangement, vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, drums, recording and video creation.
Tanesha Gore: Vocals
Marc Weisgal: Electric guitar
Rosalie Fitzgibbons: Violin
Dan Keeler: Vocal production
Frank Brocklehurst: Upright and electric bass
Recorded at Roxbury Station, Roxbury, CT
Mixed at Sure Sound Studios, Bridgeport, CT
Mastered by Will Quinnell at Stirling Sound
Public Domain and Royalty-Free images from the Library of Congress and