Producer's Homework for the harmonist: PART SIX

I sang my own harmonies on my last four albums. It's a lot of work to arrange three more vocal parts, as well as arrange the time to do it, well after the main vocals have been laid down, so as not to over tax the vocal chords. The advantage of singing all the harmonies myself is that the vocal blend is perfect, for the tone is the same.

Yet, on this session, I had one weekend to record all the parts, not including the 'fixes'. (I'll explain that term later:) 

So the Producer had to figure out the timing of who was doing what, when and how. The where: Warner/Chappel on 16th Ave, Music Row, Nashville, TN.

The game plan is as follows: The musicians arrive at 10:00AM on the Saturday and were scheduled until 6:00PM. After that, the main vocals would begin until 10PM

On Sunday, 10AM-10PM was vocals again.(Main vocals and harmony vocals) This time line meant that I would need to hire a professional kick-ass harmonist! A singer who could make excellent time and get the job done and quickly! With three part harmony's, "Oohs and Ahhs" interspersed as well, this meant a Work Horse, and a vocalist whose voice was well conditioned for such an intensive session. 

I had briefly met Kim Morrison, through Ronnie Godfrey. Her reputation is Wicked Slammin', having sung harmonies for live and studio gigs for countless famous Recording Artists. I've never met anyone who knew how to direct the voice with such precision as she did!

I was nervous when I asked her if she would be interested in singing on my project. To my delight, she was very interested. She was familiar with my music through Ronnie's previous recording sessions with me. She was laid back yet held an air of solid confidence. I already knew of many Nashville Greats whom she had sung with, yet when she told me that she also sung with Roy Orbison and Mose Allison, I almost dropped my phone! Roy Orbison has been a strong influence in my music.             

She asked for a copy of the songs and for me to tell her what I had in mind for the harmonies on those songs. A week later, I sent her a copy of the guitar/vocal demos along with the lyrics for each song. I tend to be a perfectionist of sorts and so sending a simple Garage Band guitar/vocal demo (with its imperfections) to someone, makes my skin crawl! And yet, it had to be done. ugh. We agreed that we would get together a couple weeks before the studio date and go over the suggestions and ideas that we would both be preparing for the studio.

Now, it was time to totally focus my mind on harmony arrangements for the twelve songs. What a job! It's kind of strange. It's sort of like I have a closet full of many fine dress hats. One is the producer; another for the harmonist; another for the key player; another for the guitarist; for the lead singer; the percussionist; accountant; producer's assistant and more. No- don't worry: I don't have split personalities. Lol!

Again, I played the demo's over and over again, while driving or at the gym, until I started hearing the third above the tonic, the fifth below the tonic and then, oohs coming out here and there. I actually really like arranging harmonies. It just takes a moment to 'shift' my focus in that direction. I made notations on my lyric sheets where I would suggest where the harmonies could come in on the songs.  

The evening when I was to meet Kim to share notes on the harmonies, was long awaited. I surely put some time in on the harmonies, and anticipated working alongside her on this preliminary rehearsal of sorts. 

After offering me a cup of coffee, we went into her rehearsal room. I saw that she had already underlined the areas where she heard harmonies. My lyric sheets were similarly lined in those same areas. She played the first song and I sang the harmonies above below and oohs and ahhs. She then agreed on the same parts and then added her points of suggestions, in which I was most satisfied with, to say the least. It was refreshing to work alongside a professional, who did her homework well and then surely had points of brilliance that would bring the songs even into further excellence upon recording. 

It only took about an hours time to go through the countless harmony parts for the dozen songs. Yet, there was one song that she said that she and Ronnie had been working up further ideas together. They were both extremely emotionally charged about a particular song of mine, 'Children Of The Sun' © 2018 Chakra Bleu Music, which happened to be about the atrocities of Native American Indians. (I'll share more about how that song was written later. Let's just say it has been a Powerful, Soulful and Mystifying experience to say the least!) We finished with some intriguing vocal parts to be added in that song. I was game, yet didn't know exactly how it would work out, until the day of, and wow...did it ever work out, thanks to what Ronnie, Kim added, and some unexpected turns in the studio, which actually worked on behalf of that song, in a reverently haunting way.

On parting, she assured me that she would be able to deliver all the harmony parts in ample time. And on that recording date, she surely did! Wow!



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