Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Vocals - Day 3

I woke up this morning, grateful for a good night's sleep, excited about the day, but also nervous. Today was our "big sing" day.

As part of my relaxing morning, I took the puppies for a walk. I said it was to help relax them before a day alone (a friend came to visit them late afternoon), but in actuality, the walk was truly relaxing for me. The weather was very Newfoundland - grey sky, a little haze, a hint of rain - but the air was warm and humid instead of cool and damp.

I left these 3 particular songs til today for very specific reasons. They are, in my opinion, the hardest ones to sing, so I wanted as much time as possible to work on them. I also wanted to be very comfortable in the studio and with Aaron when it came time to sing them. And, as you'll see, I'm glad I waited.

I wanted to start with Daryl Williams' new song, "In Less Than A Moment". Daryl gave me a demo CD with a dozen songs. They were all great, but when I heard this one, I started to cry. When we lost Steve, I was left with so many unanswered questions. Death at any time can be confusing, but I think a suicide is the worst. There's no one to explain what happened or why it happened, and I just couldn't wrap my head around why God would have allowed this to happen. I finally came to the conclusion that I will never get the answers in this lifetime, but, when I get to Heaven, I will get all the answers I need. Well, that's exactly what Daryl's song is about. I couldn't believe it when I heard it. I knew I had to sing it. Partly for my own needs, but mostly because I know there are people out there who will need to hear this song.

So, as you can imagine, singing it has been an emotional experience. Vocally, it's a style that's very familiar to me, so that hasn't been difficult. But I wanted to rehearse it so that I could sing it with strength and confidence. I scheduled it early in the day so that I'd be open and relaxed to get all the low notes in the verses.

Well, we started the first take, and by the time we hit the final chorus, I started to cry. And not the pretty Demi-Moore-in-Ghost tears either. Those awful tears that take away your stomach. I was so embarassed. We did another take, and I couldn't even make it to the end. It's been so long since I've gone to that emotional place. I was happy to be singing about this great message of hope, but the emotion was just overwhelming. Remembering my grief felt awful, and imagining the joy of finally seeing Jesus was more than I could bear. Gerald came into the studio and hugged me and talked me through. I was so embarassed to be, what I deemed, unprofessional. But I was also reminded that this is part of taking great artistic risks. Sometimes, it brings you to places that are raw and scary. Aaron was also incredibly encouraging, reminding me that pitches can be fixed, and emotion is the most important thing in a performance. We did one more pass, and then punched in a few chosen lines.

At that point, I was just exhausted. We didn't listen to any of what I'd just done. Gerald and I just took off for a very long lunch, and Aaron worked on the song without us.

The break was good. Gerald and I laughed a lot, and we came back in great moods to take on the next big sing: Gerald's song, "Real Big Fan". Gerald often performs this live as a blues-rock-gospel number, and I just love it! But it's not in my style, so we've given in a big band type of feel. The lyric is incredible, so that was paramount in my performance. But I also wanted to give it a real jazz feel in tone and phrasing. Gerald was a great coach for this. We had practiced it a lot, and this gave us a full palette for when we started recording. It was completely fun to sing! I think it turned out well, and I also can't wait to do it live.

We ended with Lee Roy Abernathy's "Sin Ain't Nothin' But The Blues". I looove this song. I first heard it in Jack Clark's theory class, and as soon as we sang it, and thought, "I need to record this!". I put a lot of work into this one. I studied and practiced my phrasing, and worked on the lyric. I even spent all day Sunday listening to John Lee Hooker as homework and inspiration. Well, it paid off! Three takes and we were done! I had a lot of fun with it, and I think it's going to sound awesome.

All 10 vocals done! We'll still have a clean-up day, but the bulk of my singing work is done. Finally, I can start listening to other songs! (I've been avoiding other music almost entirely! I've only listened to my tracks, or a few selected pieces of 'homework'.) Next week, the rest of the BGVs will get done. Aaron and his Dad, Johnny, are going to do the harmonies on "Moving Up To Gloryland". They haven't done them all yet, but they did lay down a sample for me. It sounds incredible! When I heard it, I thought, "Wow, it's all sounding like a real CD!". Yes, I'm being geeky, but it's all so exciting.

Dreams are coming true every day!

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