Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Little Drummer Boy

So Tandy turned 21 yesterday. Guess where she had her birthday party... no, never mind. You will never guess. She took a bunch of friends to a soup kitchen where they worked all day! It was pretty funny because my son Casey went, and all the people who ran the soup kitchen thought he and his friend Edo were there to get community service hours (they should both have shaved before they went!) and kept getting on their case for slacking off whenever they stopped for a minute to try to get a drink... haha! Awesome. The other thing Tandy wanted to do for her birthday was to have some friends come over to my place to record a song they sang for a young adult fireside last week.

I wasn’t really sure how my microphone would pick up ten people at once... overall, I was pleasantly surprised. So now, a bonus for you: direct from my house to yours, The Little Drummer Boy. Happy birthday, Miss Tandy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! I just wanted to give you a little present to thank you for being my friend and supporting my album. It is nothing fancy... only me and the keys. In fact, this is pretty much what I play for fun when it is just me and the headphones. But you can still think of it as a little bonus track you won’t find on the album. I put my heart into it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It’s All About Me

Just kidding with the title… a little inside joke ☺. Anyway, who says Garry doesn’t read the blog? I love this album, and I am happy to answer some questions.

Garry, what are your thoughts about the songs you recorded?

I will start with “The Gate.” This song is magic to me. It was written at a time in my mission when I needed a boost. I didn’t feel I was successful and I was really discouraged. Victoria wrote this song and I still remember coming home and having her call me over to the piano to hear the recording of the piano accompaniment. I sat on the floor by the piano and listened and remember crying as the music played. I don’t normally get emotional over music that has no words but there was something different about this one. As soon as I heard the words I knew that this song was a gift from Heavenly Father sent through a righteous mother and friend to help a weary missionary. Recording it was a process. It went from a bright cheery sound to a quieter breathy sound. The change was new to me. I didn’t normally sing breathy but I am really pleased with the way it turned out and Victoria made the right choice to change the style.

Then there is “Did You Know?” Victoria first introduced this song to me when I was serving in Oceanside, California. She was nice enough to come down and play for me at a ward Christmas party, along with the whole family. She brought this song along to see if I would like it. She played and I did my best to follow along. I loved it instantly. I loved the simplicity of it, but more importantly I loved the spirit of it. We recorded it this summer and after I left I listened to it a couple of times and realized that I wanted to change a few things to make it sound more professional and fun. When I returned in October I wasn’t planning on us rerecording that song but with some time left over we decided to try it. I made a few changes and Victoria helped me add some things and correct some things that made the song come more alive. I know this song has a deep heritage, having been sung long before anyone ever knew me. I just hope that those people who knew it before are satisfied with how it turned out.

Lastly, “Will You Hold Me on Christmas Eve?” I love love love this song. I didn’t think I was going to get the opportunity to sing it. For the longest time I wanted to do a duet with Rachel and the chance never came up. Well, when Victoria told me that she was looking for a different sound than what she had heard and asked if I was interested in doing it I had to say yes. I listened to the song because I wanted to make sure I could actually do it justice and not just say yes to be selfish so I could sing a stellar song with a superior vocalist. Well, I got those things anyway and decided to tell Victoria that I would love to do it. Recording it without Rachel there was a trick, but a necessary one. I’m grateful that I was given that chance.

What was recording like? Were there any surprises?

Recording was a mixed experience. I always said that if I got the chance to record some music I would do it. Never did I realize the amount of time and commitment it would require. I wouldn’t change it though. During the process I realized that my voice is very untrained. Only after a couple of hours my throat would start to hurt and I would have to rest. Suddenly it hit me that professional vocalists spend tons of time singing to keep up that stamina. Overall, however, it was fun. It was fun to hear the end result. It was fun to hear the outtakes from all the recordings.. Victoria and I would go back and listen to the outtakes and just laugh because of our conversations. That was a blast.

What is your favorite song on the CD, and why?

I know I might be a bit biased but I really do like “Will You Hold Me on Christmas Eve?” I like how it has a country element. I love the power of Rachel’s voice. I love the jazzy piano. The writing on this song is ingenious. It should be on the radio being sung by someone like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. It has a special feeling.

Would you record again, if you had the opportunity?

Hands down I would, and hopefully will record again!

Tell us something about Victoria that we might not know.

Vic really is a jokester. We had so many inside jokes that they seemed to come up every single hour. From Harry Potter jokes, to jokes about missionary work, to pokes at my personality. I love that about her.

This whole experience has been very surreal for me. I am so appreciative to the McDaniel family for letting me live with them for upwards of eight months now, collectively. They are wonderful people who will do anything for anyone. Victoria doesn’t even realize fully that she fulfilled a dream for me by inviting me to record. I would never have gotten this opportunity anywhere else. My hope is that everyone who listens to the CD will enjoy the music, get into the Christmas spirit, and feel closer to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know he is the Son of God and it is truly an honor to sing about his birth and life. I love him with all my heart.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Singing in the Rain (Tandy Talks)

Hi, it’s me, Tandy. I am heading out the door for a program called Follow the Star, which is an amazing live nativity with animals and I get to be Mary! Not only that, but I get to sing “Mary, the Mother.” If you are going to be in the neighborhood, you should come and check it out. And yes, it is raining. But the show will go on, and I will still be singing.

But first, I wanted to talk about “It’s All About the Baby,” from my point of view. To answer some questions...

When did you start singing, and do you want to do it professionally?

Since elementary school I loved being in Chorus (which definitely was not the highlight of my “singing career,” looking back at the concert tapes…ahh!) and I took voice lessons for a short while... but truthfully I thought I was supposed to grow up to be an artist. That is, until I fell in love with music when I started singing in treble choir with Mr. Elg at Mission Viejo High School (if you have children of friends that enjoy singing that either go or will go to Mission, make them join choir! It’s such an awesome experience… not the typical cheesy choir you might imagine, as I did beforehand.

I am still trying to figure out what I want to do with music. There are many things I love and could possibly pursue... I definitely want to incorporate music, but am not wishing to pursue any path of “making it big.” I want to be able to raise a family. ☺

What was your experience like, recording for Victoria?

Haha… she’s totally chill to work with and would never make me cry! ;) ...except for moments I have had, deeply confiding in her about my worries and desires, and feeling true love, concern, and understanding from her thoughtful words and advice given in return. What made me emotional was how she would defend what she felt were my needs and desires and strengths, while I argued otherwise, worrying about everything and everyone else. I have very much valued the time spent with her during these past few months; she has become a dear friend in whom I feel I can confide when at times I may feel no one else would understand. Thank you so much.

What is your favorite song on the CD, and why?

Track #5- “About the Baby.”
The first time I listened to this song, I was looking at the picture Victoria has on her blog of Jesus holding His mother, Mary. {This Liz Lemon Swindle painting} As I listened, I contemplated the life of my Savior Jesus Christ and what He has done for me...visualizing myself, or others that I loved, as the one He had encircled in His arms of mercy and compassion. I just pictured that moment, when each of us would come face to face with Him, and falling at His feet as the tears flowed, overwhelmed by the love one could feel in His presence. His sacrifice and love and mercy is real. Our loved ones will be taken care of. Whenever I wish to ponder the glory of our Redeemer, this is a song that will set the tone for the Spirit to be present.

Would you record again, if you got the chance?

I would do it in a second! Victoria mentioned wanting to write a duet, in which I would record my part before going on my mission, and one of my best friends Kevin Anthony recording the second part after he got back from his mission; then they could send it to me while I was out in the field! :D (That’d be sweet!)

I just want to say one more thing. We should show more gratitude to Victoria McDaniel and her musical ability. I am forever in debt for all the musical numbers she has accompanied for me. I’ll sing whatever and whenever she wants…haha! plus anything else I could do for her ;). Love you!

Monday, December 7, 2009

An Italian's Point of View

Okay, okay. You want some answers from the vocalists??? Here is Rachel's point of view.....

Q: Do you read her blog?

A: I have known Victoria for years and when I found out she had a blog I knew I would have to become one of her blog stalkers. Her witty humor and adventurous cooking skills are something I admire so of course I read her blog :)

Q: What was it really like for you? How do you feel about such a unique experience?

These two questions are difficult to respond to. I don’t know if I can explain the array of feelings that I felt this time around while recording.

Let me begin by saying that recording is DIFFICULT, especially when you have a deadline. There is no time for messing around. There were days when I would start singing at 8 AM and not finish until 4 PM. It sometimes felt like I was performing two concerts back to back! Singing takes a lot out of you.

Victoria wrote about an experience we had while I was in High School. I will NEVER forget that experience for as long as I live. It’s a memory that’s very private and special because only those who were there really understand the magnitude of the spirit. I can’t describe it. I wish I could have been a poet. I felt that same spirit while recording “In the Bleak Midwinter” which happens to be my favorite song on the CD. I recognize how grateful and lucky I was to be a part of Victoria’s very first Christmas CD. She could have chosen a plethora of different singer, but she chose me and that means a lot.

Q: Did she really make you cry?

A: I wish I could admit to the fact that Victoria’s the wicked witch of the west, however, she is far from that. If anything, I made her cry out of frustration because I couldn’t decide on what take I preferred more for the CD! You can thank the perfectionist part in me :)

Q: If you had the chance, would you record more of Victoria’s songs in the future?

A: I don’t think I had to even think twice about this. It’s just been something I have always done. She is a woman of many talents so why wouldn’t I accept such an amazing offer? Plus, once we’re done recording songs, I have the song as a keepsake for the future. It’s funny to listen to how my voice has changed since I was 16.

Q: Tell us something about Victoria that we don’t know!!!

I’m the last person to tell you something about her that you don’t know! This woman is an amazing chef. Amazing you say? How about this for something you don’t know….she picked me up from my house, drove to her house, did some recording, and then she says, “I’ll be right back” and in about an hour, she made me homemade whole wheat bread from scratch. Were talking, ground her own wheat into flour. What a sweetie right? All that for me, and then I even got to take a loaf home for the family to devour in a couple of hours. WHO DOES THAT? She is definitely the homemaker/cook/chef/extraordinaire I want to be like!

Just the countryside in Italy....no big deal.

I hope I answered these questions to your liking! If not, visit Italiana Signorina to get a little piece of heaven from an Italiana.


Going, Going...

I hate to rush you, but if you still haven’t ordered CDs, or you need five or ten more for gifts, you are about to run out of time... because I am about to run out of CDs. The response to the CD has exceeded my expectations. I will order some more if I have orders for them, but if you want CDs from this initial run, you better call, e-mail, or order online NOW. Thank you to all of you who have kindly ordered, re-ordered, and then re-ordered again because you love the CD so much and want to give it to all of your friends and neighbors. I love you! xoxo

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What the…What’s What? More Questions...

Tandy, Rachel and Garry were fired some questions in the comments from the last post. I really can’t answer for them, except to point out that none of them have stepped forward to dispute the fact that they were tortured… made to work under duress, and that I did my best to make them all cry. Beyond that, I can’t speak for them, and honestly, I don’t know that they really look at the blog all that often, if at all.

I can answer the questions that were addressed to me.

Q. Can I sing on your next CD?

A. Not a chance. ☺ Haha!

Q. Will there be a next CD?

A. Let me consult my Magic 8 Ball… it says try again later.

Q. How did you soundproof your “studio?”

A. I didn’t. My nod to acoustics was to throw a rug on the floor and add a shelf with books opposite the recording area to break up sound.

Q. What is your favorite song on the CD?

A. That is actually a complicated question, because many of the songs have great meaning for me, either because of how they came about (The Gate), or experiences performing them (Evening Lullaby, Hush, Joseph’s Song). Some of them I love just because they were fun to play (O Holy Night)… but just for sheer listening satisfaction I love the last track, Will You Hold Me on Christmas Eve? As far as meaning goes, that song has a lot attached to it as well. I originally wrote it to be performed at a Christmas concert by Ric Starnes and Casey Vongsawad Stolze. I loved Casey with her big beautiful voice and her loving, humble personality, and she passed away quite suddenly earlier this year from cancer. I can still remember her singing that song, and how many people begged for a recording of it. She was as great a performer as she was a lovely person, and we miss her. I was not at all sure I would be able to translate that amazing experience into a suitable recording.

I think that the great job Rachel did on that song would have made Casey very happy, and it certainly made me happy. Then, as you can read in earlier posts, Garry swept in to the rescue at a very crucial time to help finish the song. I thought several times along the way that it would probably not be on the album, because it was a very difficult song to perform and record well. I think the way it came together a single week before the CDs had to be duplicated was no accident, and it made me realize once again that I was being watched over in so many ways.