I had a glorious 2 weeks in Memphis recording the new album (working title, "Ready To Rise.")
I never thought I could record and mix a 13 song album of work in 11 days!
That's "record" time, pun intended. :-)
This is what happens when you get into the studio with such incredible musicians whose talents are top notch and egos are left at the door. Plus, working with a great producer who listens objectively and knows how to strike the balance of letting things flow and stopping us from chasing our tails once the magic has happened.
So many times I had to stop and remind myself where I came from and how I started. To have discovered Otis Redding at age 19 and deciding in that moment, because of his performance of, "I've Been Loving You Too Long" at Monterey Pop, to really follow my dream to be a performer only now shaped by wanting to be a performer of his caliber.
Now, here I was in Memphis, where it all began for him, tracking with another musical legend I'd listened to on so many albums as I immersed myself into the Stax and Hi records catalogues, the one and only, Reverend Charles Hodges, the man who literally invented soul organ playing. In between takes Charles often had some beautiful words of wisdom to share.
Imagine an African American man who made music during a time when artists such as he were welcome to entertain all-white audiences, but not allowed to share their schools, hospitals, restaurants, drinking fountains, toilets, etc. A time Memphis poignantly reminds us of with the powerful Civil Rights Museum, where time has been frozen at the Lorraine Motel on that early morning of April 4th when we lost a great peace builder who was beginning to unite people in the name of love.
People like Charles Hodges continue this mission, uniting people in love and music.
Something I've tried to make my mission as well, with every performance.
I'm still marveling at how I'd just play a simple guitar and vocal demo of the song with just Jon Diamond and me and this team of brilliant musicians would scribble notes in real time after one listen and say, "let's cut it." I don't think any song took more than 3 takes to get and most were the first take!
I also felt such a strong sense of the circle of life, love and music completely enveloping me. Here I was in the middle of a dream I'd had for years, tracking songs, several of which are inspired by the unbelievably devastating loss of 3 siblings and both parents in such a short time, yet dancing to play back with my 9 month old baby boy and having these musicians turn my words into joyful melodies and rhythms!
Obviously a huge part of this circle was YOU. All of you who have continued to support my music and my heart. All of you who stepped up and so generously pledged to make this happen.
I decided this album had to be about all of you as well. As I've said in the past, when I write and record a new song, I see so many of your faces and I recall so many of your stories. Trust me when I confide that many of you are in these songs. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me and helping me write the most personal album I've written to date. I am so excited to share these songs with you on the next Ready to Rise Tour 2017-2018.
Now for a HUGE thank you to the incredible musicians who each brought something so unique and meaningful to this project.
The Memphis Team: Kevin Houston (Producer/Engineer), Charles Hodges (Hammond organ), The legendary Steve Potts (Drums) Eric Lewis (Guitar, Pedal Steel, Dobro, Mandolin) Reba Russell and Susan Marshall (Background Vocals), Mark Franklin (Arranger and Saxophone), Kirk Smothers (Trumpet), Felix Hernandez (Congas) Jamie Harmon (Photography), Ward Archer (Studio Owner)
The NYC Team: Glen Patscha (Piano/Wurlitzer), Jack Daley (Bass), Jon Diamond (guitar) and Scott Sharrard & David Gelman for joining Jon and I for a few writing sessions and bringing some great co-writes to some of these songs!
To work with such world class musicians who happen to be such a joy and pleasure to hang out and live with for several days, is just the crazy delicious icing on a big, fat, scrumptious cake!
Now in between some upcoming shows in the US and Europe, we will start the promotion plan and tour strategizing.
Release date is still being determined so please stay tuned!!
Meanwhile, we'll be adding more and more new tunes to my upcoming shows!
As always with so much love and gratitude, let's continue to celebrate love and life together through music!