Again, far too late and far too tired. My new goal is to get to bed before 1am tomorrow night.
This morning started with one of the biggest activities of the week - Recording the school CD. We all gather in our group singing formation in the auditorium, with several mics on stands, and record the songs we've been learning over the past week. But here's my little confession: Because I haven't always been able to go to group singing, there were actually a few songs I hadn't sung yet! Luckily, we would run each song, or at least a verse and chorus, before recording it. Between that and my sight-reading skills, I was able to hold my own. But on the other stuff, it was all fun! There's a great song called "I'm Gonna Keep On Keepin' On" and it's the hit of the school. It's got a great groove, and it's one of those melodies that just sticks in your head. We ended the morning early on that song, so everyone felt pretty good about the whole thing.
After lunch, I had another voice lesson with Mr. Glenn. Each lesson is half an hour, but this one only felt like a few minutes. We worked on an exercise that incorporated the 5 vowels and octave slides to work through the transitions in the voice, and to develop ease and flexibility. So good! I can't believe we only have one lesson left!
Next, I had a great blessing given to me by Allison Durham Speer. She and I sat for almost an hour discussing the recording process. She records solo CDs, similar to how my CD will be set up, and she gave me loads on info on what to expect and how to prepare. I'm really excited about recording, but I'm still a little nervous too. It's a fair bit of money (although small by some artist's standards) and I just want to be the best steward of my resources. I also want to make sure the music is top notch, and that my message is clear and relevant. Today was an great gift, and it answered questions I didn't even know I had.
The rest of the afternoon was a little dull for me. Just photocopying and selling bottles of water to thirsty singers. But, as always, there were great times to just chat to people, or peek in a room and hear great voices blending in harmony. I never tire of the talent in this school!
Allison's performance class has taken on a quality of the Ed Sullivan Show. You never know who's going to drop by to sit in the audience and watch the show! This afternoon, it was Naomi Sego, who has had a long and significant career in gospel music. (She's also in some of the Gaither videos.) Ms Sego was there to watch Allison teach, and at the end of the class, Ben persuaded her to get up and do a song. This is why artists must always carry their tracks with them! She sang one song, and was great! So much energy, and a real commitment for the message.
Suppertime actually allowed a little rest, which was needed with the crazy night ahead. After supper, we had another session of group singing. The CD is done, so now we're singing for fun, and to prepare for the Friday night closing program. But I was busy during this time helping our guest artist prepare for tonight's concert. And that artist was...
Buddy Greene! I am such a huge Buddy Greene fan! I missed his performance at Cafe Forte a few months ago, but I haven't stopped talking about his Stamps-Baxter show from last year. Buddy sings, writes, and plays guitar and harmonica. His music is soulful and rootsy and gospel to the core. He has a great performance energy - enthusiastic and passionate, yet cool and laid back. He does some great arrangements of hymns, and we had some beautiful singalong moments. He sang one of my favourite songs of his, "Man Against Man", which essentially says that when we go against each other, we go against God. It's beautiful and powerful. Allison got up and joined him in a song, which was partially improvised, but very cool. He made a joke about doing harmonica classes at the school next year, but they got some very genuine interest in it after the show, so maybe next year's classes will involve a harmonica workshop!
A little after 9pm, we started our first night of auditions for the Friday night closing program. This show is big! They want great acts that, as a group, will give an overall representation of the school. They video the show, and the pressure is large! Last year, we all did a 90 second audition of our song, using a track or live accompaniment, on the Thursday night. They've decided to try something new this year, and tonight was night one of three audition nights. Tonight and tomorrow are the first round of auditions. (With over 70 people auditioning, they had to stretch it over 2 nights.) In this round, you or your group can do a 90 second acapella version of your song. On Thursday night, a select number of people will be asked to audition again, this time using their full accompaniment. It's going to be a time-consuming process, but I think it's going to give the faculty who judge the auditions, a better sense of each act's overall sound. I know this year, they're choosing mostly groups with only a few soloists. Tonight's auditioners were mostly soloists with only a few groups, so it's going to be an interesting process to watch...