How ‘Bout A Hand For The Singers!
Background vocalists get no love. Hollywood (or Motown, if you prefer) even wrote an award-winning movie – The Dreamgirls – on the subject. But today’s post is about two background singers I love very much … my daughters Kate and Kayla. We’ve sung together all of their lives and having them sing on the record, and their performances, is something I’m very proud of.
I’d hoped to have had them sing on a couple more songs, but Covid-19 put a crimp in the plans. As I’ve mentioned previously, the songs were written over a period of time. By the time a couple of the late comers were ready, the window had closed on their ability to come home and record in my studio. But they were able to sing on some of the first songs, including one of my favorite moments on the record. So, let’s start there.
I’ve introduced you to all but one of the players (who will be next week), and as you are aware, they are all professionals. Kate and Kayla are not. They sang with me in church, and on my Christmas CD, as well. But they’d never sung original parts before, with no reference to listen to. The first song we did was The Dream. At that point, I hadn’t written, let alone sung, the lyrics. But I knew what I wanted for the vocal bridge. I played the music for them and explained that their parts were “hey, yah, yah, yah, ah”. I should have taken a picture of their faces. I’m literally laughing as I type this. They were gamers, but seriously? What’s wrong with good old “ooooos” and “ohhhhs”. But they did it. And what they sang was exactly what I’d imagined and hoped for.
The song features a legendary bassist – Jorge Casas. The guitarist is a chart topping contemporary jazz guitarist – Adam Hawley. The sax is played by one of the hottest players in Nashville – Chris West. And the background vocals are sung by my daughters. For me, personally, hearing my girls on the same song as legit A-list musicians, is one of the coolest moments on the record. I’m so proud of them.
Background vocals are never loud enough. Apparently.
One thing that is interesting about background vocals when done well, the individual voices become one. By design, voices that may be distinct in solo mode, lose their identity in harmony mode. I’ve had people say that they “can’t hear Kate, or Kayla”. I ask, “can you hear singing?” And when they say yes, I explain that they are indeed hearing the girls, but they sound like one voice, instead of two. In my opinion, that’s one of the great benefits of families singing together. I’m not sure their mother completely buys my explanation, however.
There are plans for more.
I’ll take this opportunity to tell you that I want to redo, remix, remaster, and release a few of the Christmas songs I did a number of years ago. There are several reasons I want to do this, but the reason O Holy Night will be the first song we do is because of the girls’ harmony on the song. If I only had one musical moment to preserve for posterity – that would be it. I’m not sure I’ll ever write, and have a harmony sung, that I love more. I will never tire of hearing them sing that and I am so anxious hear what Luke DeJaynes can do with it. Hopefully it will be ready by Thanksgiving!
The angels start singing at the 3:14 mark.
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