I stayed up so late last night, finishing my Song U course on pre-production. I wanted to be ready for today...
This afternoon, Gerald and I drove out to meet with Aaron (my CD producer). Today was set to be a big meeting: schedule and song selection. Both of these topics are so important to me. I need a sense of the schedule so I can get an overall feel for how this process is going to work. And the songs are the key to everything! I need great songs that I will love to sing for the next year or 2, and that people will want to buy and bring into their homes. The songs are also the medium for my message, so lyrics are critical.
I'd been sending Aaron songs for weeks, and I brought in a few new ones today. I really want a mix of classic Southern, our own songs, originals by other writers, and a hymn or 2. We listened to a bunch of stuff, and I think we've finally chosen the ten. There's still a few I'm dickering over, but it's mostly solid. Of our stuff, I'm doing:
- Abide With Me.
- Wedding at Cana
- Real Big Fan (more swingy than Gerald does it)
- Do You Want to be My Neighbour in Gloryland
- Fear Knocked, Faith Answered
I'm going to wait to make sure I get the right permissions before announcing my other songs. But it's really important that every song fits into the concept of the album. Remember: I want it rooted in Southern Gospel, with jazz and big band influences. But here's the catch: Big bands equal big budgets. There is no way I can afford a 21-piece band with horns and strings.
And here's where a creative producer comes in. Aaron suggested something called "Hollywood Western Swing". Well, Hollywood and Swing sounded great, but "Western" really freaked me out. Then he started to explain the instrumentation: clarinet, fiddle, accordion, upright bass, guitars, piano. Think Django and Stephane Grappelli. Think Paris cafe, European jazz...
Wait a minute! This is gospel meets cabaret! Whoo-hoo! Now that's a sound I can get behind!
It's not what I heard initially, but it just makes so much sense, fusing the sounds I love with the message I want to tell. And I don't think Aaron even knew of my love for all things Weill and such. Don't tell me God isn't in this mix!
After working on the sounds and the songs, we moved on to the schedule. To be completely honest, all of this is moving much slower than I'd like, but that's also because I'd like it all done yesterday. Not that I'm not enjoying the process. I really am, and I'm looking forward to everything yet to come. I'm just so anxious to see the final product and start performing with my own tracks.
We're going to do the basic tracks the first week of October. That day, we'll have piano, drums, bass, and 2 guitar players. I'll be there to sing a scratch vocal. (This is a vocal we can throw away - It's really just a guide for the musicians.) Aaron will have all the charts done up in the Nashville Number System, and we'll do all ten songs in one day!
After that, I'll take a rough copy home to start practicing with. Aaron will do overdubs of whatever extra instruments are needed on the songs, like clarinet, organ, whatever. I'll have three days, later in October, to do my vocals. After that, we'll add the background vocals. Then it's mixing, mastering, and manufacturing.
Sometime in the next few months, I'll also have my photos done, so I can bring them to the graphics designer. That stuff will be done when the CD is being mastered.
If all goes well, I'd really like to have product ready to bring home for Christmas. But I'm also not pressuring myself. I've heard tonnes of stories about people wanting to record in 6 months and it takes a year. If it's later, I'll be fine with that. (Well, not really 'fine', but I'll cope!)
Mostly, I'm just so excited about all of this! I think the sound will be great. I'm loving the songs I've chosen. I'm so happy to have Gerald by my side in all of this. And I'm just so excited to have this kind of opportunity! I always thought I was destined to go to New York or LA. I never thought I'd be in Nashville making a CD. Mysterious ways...