Walkersville resident Mike Kuster has always been involved in music. But it wasn’t until an emotional experience during the COVID-19 pandemic that his talents were really showcased for the world to hear.
Kuster’s wife, Emily, is a nurse who was assigned early to the COVID unit at Frederick Health Hospital. Her experiences inspired him to write a song, and “The COVID Floor” was born.
After an overwhelming response on social media, the single — an acoustic, country-style ballad — went live Jan. 8 on streaming platforms, spurring the creation of an album made up of more of Kuster’s original songs.
In his day-to-day life Kuster runs an IT business in Frederick but he is now also actively working on his music. He recently answered some questions via email about “The COVID Floor” and the upcoming album.
About the single: I wrote the song one evening. While I was playing it, my daughter insisted that I share it. I played it for a friend, and was encouraged to share it more widely. So, I recorded an acoustic version on video and shared it on social media. The response was overwhelming. My sister, who is also a nurse at the hospital, called me to tell me the song had her in tears. I got messages from folks I hadn’t seen in years telling me that they loved it.
How it came to be: I have always been involved in music. I was in the church choir and learned violin in school. I played for school and church for many years. After graduating, I mostly played for fun and for small events at work and for friends. Once our kids were born, I pretty much limited my music to entertaining the babies.
When the pandemic struck, my wife’s unit became one of the COVID units at Frederick Health Hospital. While she went to work on the COVID floor, my kids and I were locked down at home away from her and the rest of the world. Watching her go through the struggles of the unknown and the lack of resources for the initial surge from a social distance inspired the song, ‘The COVID Floor’.
What’s next? I shared more of my music and covers of my favorite songs. I started a little show I called ‘The COVID Sessions.’ I’ve gotten a lot of great responses and I released acoustic versions of other songs I wrote.
A few months ago, I started talking to a producer in Nashville. We got some amazing musicians lined up and we’ve been recording my original songs. Of course, the process is different with COVID. We all record one at a time. I participate virtually in the recording sessions. After we record guitars, bass, and percussion, I record my vocals in my home studio. We record the rest of the music tracks and mix it all together until I’m happy with the sound.
We’ve got two songs completed. ‘The COVID Floor’ seemed like a natural to release as a single first. It started this journey of sharing my music. ‘Hurt Again’ is the second song. I wrote it when I was in college, but never felt it was finished. During those first few weeks of lockdown last year, I finished it. While I was playing it, my kids asked me who sang that song. They were shocked when I told them that no one had ever heard it outside of the walls of our home and maybe my dorm room. I will release that song later this year.
How to listen: “The COVID Floor” is live on digital platforms. It is available to listen at open.spotify.com/album/0BqR0E9SgMiMxhOh3l0CL1?si=ACC4fTJwTCCrPKVLiWMvyg or just about any streaming platform.