Your musical inspirations?
My musical Inspirations are constantly changing. Growing up I would raid my fathers record collection and sing along to Fleetwood Mac- Rumors and Janis Joplin and the Beatles. As a teenager, I was very much into the Canadian Music scene- everyone from RUSH to Luba. Artists such as Tom Cochrane and Gowan made me fall in love with music in my formative years. As I turned to songwriting myself, I was inspired my the more obvious female singer/songwriter genre that influenced my early writing which includes Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Mae Moore, Jane Siberry, Shawn Colvin, Alanis, Suzanne Vega... However my favorites at the moment are Tom Waits, Radiohead, Beck, Sigor Ross, Peter Gabriel. I think it will be interesting to see how these current favorites influence my writing!
* Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?
Again, this is constantly shifting and there are so many songs that I can relate to or find solace in at the times that I need them. However, on long, long drives on various tours I have done across the US and Canada, I noticed that there are certain CD's that I played almost daily: Tom Waits- Mule Variations or Island Years compilation, Radiohead- Kid A, Tori Amos- Songs from the Choirgirl Hotel and Jane Siberry- When I was a Boy. I think the Jane Siberry CD would surface as one of my all time favorites, there is so much beauty and cosmic truth interwoven in the songs on this CD- I put this CD on when I want to get more in touch with my spirit.
* How has music inspired you?
Hmmm, I'm noticing and evolutionary theme here as I can't seem to answer these questions in just one way. Music has inspired me throughout my life. As a youngster, it helped me find joy, as a teenager, it was my best friend and first love- a place I could hide away. I also got to know many of my favorite artists when I was quite young and they personally inspired me to pursue a career in music through their stories of how they got to where they are. They helped make it tangible. Later, when I began writing songs, listening to songwriters I loved and understanding their styles, helped me hone and develop my own style. These days I am most inspired by music that pushes the boudaries musically lyrically, in production elements etc...I am intrigued by music that is a little quirky or weird and shows us the underbelly of the world and it's beauty- music that challanges me and is not just a typical formatted pop song.
* Has music helped you thru a difficult or traumatic time in your life?
Certainly! My whole teenage years! What can be more traumatic than being a teenager who doesn't fit in? I'm being slightly sarcastic- what teenager doesn't feel that way? But during this difficult life transition, I literally hid myself away in the music room and spent most of my time alone with music, either singing, drumming or listening to music. Music is the one thing that got me through and helped me find joy. Now as a songwriter, I find music very healing to write.You can be cathartic and release a lot of negative energy through songwriting. Listening to music is a sort of therapy and healing as well. A song can bring you to the place the songwriter was when they wrote it creating a sense that you are not alone and give you hope and and comfort when you need it.
Danielle French ~ Bio
The heaps of praise bestowed upon Calgarian singer/songwriter Danielle French make perfect sense the first moment you hear Piece, her new CD. Sweet, plaintive vocals, laden with emotional immediacy, soar above a lush background built by stellar musicians -- instantly elevating you into the stratosphere where Danielle’s crystal-clear voice resides. It’s evidence, like all of Danielle’s recorded works, that Piece is a lovingly crafted work of art, deserving the national airplay it’s received in recent months.
Mixed at Alberta’s prestigious Banff Centre by John Sorensen (The Rolling Stones, Beck), Danielle’s collaborative cast includes noteworthy names like Burton Cummings (on the gloomy, doom-weighted duet “To the Death”), Don Kerr (Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith), Paul MacLeod (The Skydiggers) and Luke Doucet (Veal). This, at first, may seem like mere name dropping. But those who are neck-deep in Canada’s vibrant musical scene have been quick to line up in support of Danielle ever since 1995 when members of Spirit of the West, Lava Hay and Blue Rodeo, as well as Matthew Good and backing musicians for Sarah McLachlan and Barney Bentall, helped on Danielle’s debut me, myself, & i.
Knowing that such acclaimed support is not something to be squandered, Danielle has coupled her well-spent studio time with a relentless work ethic. Constantly touring across Canada and the U.S. (for three years she literally lived in her mint green, flowery-curtained Dodge Maxivan), she’s opened for (surprise!) another who’s who list of performers including Holly Cole, The Barenaked Ladies, Mae Moore, Melanie Doane, and Lawrence Gowan.
The fruits of those labours are readily visible. She’s been personally invited onto Rita MacNeil’s hit CBC show Rita and Friends, welcomed onto the Calgary leg of the Lillith Fair, and was nominated for an AMPIA award for “Best Song in a Soundtrack”. Danielle has also garnered several songwriting awards. Among them are the national Scott Little award, and a “Best Song” award for Worthy (co-written with Matthew Good) in Vancouver’s Demolisten Derby. She’s appeared on the now famous Grrls with Guitars compilation CD and produced videos for Worthy and Scarlett Wishes, both seeing rotation on MUCH Music.
Her undying allegiance to film and theatre culminates in a myriad of ambitious undertakings including her release of Piece as part of the Solocentric festival, co-produced in Calgary with the nationally-renowned One Yellow Rabbit theatre company. In 2002, Danielle also completed Avalon, an experimental short film co-directed by Allan Harding Mackay, who she met while Mackay was acting in One Yellow Rabbit’s Somalia Yellow. Soon to be released, Avalon was choreographed by dancer Anita Miotti and marks Danielle’s debut in the realm of dance.
It’s obvious that music, for one who oozes creativity from every pore, is just part of the overall tapestry of expression that is Danielle's life. If you haven’t seen Danielle command the stage (in one of her trademark flower-print polyester dresses - where does she find them all?) you now have a mission.
Your musical inspirations?
I started out listening to Vinyl records of Johnny Cash and Slim Dusty. I loved the size of records and the big album covers and photos. I also remember listening to The Beatles which I loved and The Beach Boys (who sounded like they came from another planet as a 6 year old). As I got a little older I got into Gram Parsons, Steve Earle, Ricky Scaggs, Vince Gill and a lot of Bluegrass music. The past couple of years I’ve been listening to Tom Petty, Buddy and Julie Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Ryan Adams, Travis, Stereophonics and The Wallflowers among many others.
Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?
I have a couple of records that I don’t leave home without. The Wallflowers "Bringing Down The Horse", Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" and Buddy and Julie Millers’ record. My favorite songs at the moment are two Travis songs from the album "The Man Who", they are "Driftwood" and "Writing To Reach You". I absolutely love Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss’ recording of Whiskey Lullaby also. I think one of my most favorite songs is "If I Needed You" Townes Van Zandt.
How has music inspired you?
Music is my life. It’s the skin wrapped around my bones and the air that I breathe. Not a moment passes without a musical thought or melody in my head. It’s why I get up in the morning and its why I can’t sleep at night, so much to hear and feel in such little time.
Growing up in the small south Australian town of Quorn, Jedd was first given the gift of country music by his father, who loved the sounds of Australian traditional country singer Slim Dusty, and American icons such as Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins.
"My dad had lots of records," Jedd recalls. "I remember listening to Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison Blues' and 'I Walk The Line.' The first guitar solos I ever heard were Luther Perkins', and for some reason that got me excited. I guess that's what got me into guitar playing. And then Marty Robbins' Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs - it was a reddish/pink cover with Marty dressed in black on the front. Music was always exciting to me. I used to run around the house freaking out because it affected me."
When he wasn't listening to music at home, much of Jedd's childhood was spent onstage. At age eight, he won first place at the Port Pirie Country Music Festival. One year later, Jedd's dad gave him a few guitar lessons, and by age 10 he was playing a custom-made De Gruchy acoustic guitar.
At 12, Jedd was chosen to represent Australia on a three-week tour of Europe, performing at the International Music For Youth festivals held in France, Belgium and Sweden. "My parents knew I was into music, but they didn't really know how far I would take it," says Jedd. "After that tour happened, I think they figured I was pretty serious about it."
Jedd's early teens involved practicing guitar for hours - and waiting for his voice to change. "I played guitar for three years without really singing much, until I was 16 or 17," he says. "I really concentrated on playing the electric guitar, and I worked on the acoustic guitar, too.
"I practiced at least three hours a day, and on school holidays I would practice eight or nine hours a day, I just wanted to be good. I wanted different tones and different sounds."
One night on the radio, Jedd heard the Ricky Skaggs song "Country Boy" and was hooked on Skaggs' rapid-fire blend of country and bluegrass. "That was the fastest music I'd ever heard," he recalls. "It was pretty mind-boggling. Then I started listening to Vince Gill, because my mom was completely in love with him - and still is! I always thought his guitar solo on 'Liza Jane' was amazing."
Through a friend who was a bluegrass mandolin champion, Kym Warner, Jedd was introduced to some of the greats of bluegrass music. He heard the sounds of Tony Rice, Del McCoury and Ralph Stanley, and was taken with the music's purity. He was also drawn to country legends like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. "The only new music I had access to was popular music, and it didn't interest me," he admits. "I found early country music and bluegrass more interesting, so that's about all I listened to until I was 18."
Jedd traveled throughout his teenage years, performing as a sideman with various country entertainers. After high school he had one goal - to attend South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, which offers a bluegrass music program. The experience was life-changing. "For starters," he explains, "I had serious singing lessons for the first time in my life, which helped me a lot. I learned confidence in my playing and singing, and just more confidence as a human being. I mean, moving from one country to another on your own and having to get by without certain people sometimes makes you a stronger person. Looking back, it was a big step, but at the time was something I had to do. There was no option - I had to come to America."
On a visit home between semesters, Jedd had another life-altering experience - he heard the music of country rocker Buddy Miller. "A friend of mine brought around this record of his called Poison Love," says Jedd. "I heard that record, and Buddy's guitar playing and singing completely changed my whole outlook on what country music could be. I could hear all of this other stuff that had filtered through that I didn't understand because I hadn't really listened to rock and roll or anything else. But it became such a big influence."
Attending South Plains College proved to be more than a confidence-builder - it also led to Jedd's meeting with the man who'd soon be his producer, Terry McBride. Terry, who'd enjoyed much success with his trio McBride and the Ride, did a workshop at the college. Later at a student showcase, he noticed there was something different about the young guitarist who was expertly picking a tribute to Chet Atkins and Roy Nichols on his guitar and singing a Buddy Miller song with soul beyond his years. He talked with Jedd after the show and offered to write with him if he ever made the move to Nashville.
Soon after, Jedd called Music City home and the pair began writing. "We probably wrote over 80 songs between April 2002 and March 2003," notes Jedd.
Since his move to Nashville, Jedd has earned the respect of Nashville's elite. His list of admirers is long - and reads like a "Who's Who" of country music. The songwriter and accomplished guitar player is beloved by such respected artists as Patty Loveless, Rodney Crowell, Alison Krauss and Guy Clark.
If fact, just six weeks after landing in Music City, Jedd auditioned to be the lead guitarist for Patty Loveless. "Billy Thomas, who'd played with Patty on and off through the years, heard that Patty was looking for a new acoustic player and singer to do the Down From the Mountain tour. I was already a fan of her music, so I went and auditioned - and physically shook the whole time," he recalls, laughing. "I walked out of that audition thinking, 'There is no way I'm going to get this gig because I just made a complete idiot of myself.'"
Yet only one hour later, Jedd was asked to join Patty's rehearsal - and then he was invited to play the Grand Ole Opry the next night. "So I did, and the day after that I was playing at MerleFest, with Tony Rice standing on the side of the stage! It all happened so quickly and I feel so lucky that it all worked out like that."
Playing with one of country's most talented and respected singers taught Jedd valuable lessons. "There's an advantage to being onstage and being a sideman for awhile," he says. "You get to closely observe how people react to the music, because they're not staring at you the whole time. With Patty, I learned that consistency is possible. Not only with singing, but with the show. Every show is the same, whether it's a small or huge crowd. She always gets out there and rocks every night."
During his days off from playing with Patty, Jedd was busy in the studio with Terry, cutting demos which they eventually took to Executive VP of A&R David Conrad at MCA in December 2002. "We only had five songs finished," remembers Jedd, "but we left the music with David and I went home for the holidays. While I was at home I got an e-mail from Terry saying, 'You've been offered a record deal on MCA Records!' My mom was crying and my dad and I were freaking out. It's still very surreal, just thinking about the whole scenario."
TRANSCONTINENTAL is a blend of the traditional sounds Jedd loved from his childhood and the rocking country he's absorbed as an ever-evolving artist. The album kicks off with the up tempo Beatlesque tune "I'm Your Man" then quickly switches gears to the mellow sound of "I'll Keep Movin'" which demonstrates Jedd's versatility as an artist.
Tracks like "High Lonesome," a rolling train of honky-tonk would make Buck Owens proud. He continues rocking with the roadhouse grit of "I Don't Have A Clue," "Snake In the Grass" and "Damn! You Feel Good."
"Time To Say Goodnight (Sweet Dreams Baby)" and "The Only Girl In Town" (with guest harmonies by Alison Krauss) are sung with a soulful yearning guaranteed to melt the hardest hearts. Jedd's former "boss," Patty Loveless, puts her golden touch on the beautiful, melancholy "Soldier For The Lonely." The album ends fittingly with a cover of country rock legend Gram Parsons' "Luxury Liner."
Jedd hopes his blend of roots-based country will appeal to a wide range of music fans. "I want to get this record to as many people as I can," he declares. "I hope I've made some music that will get inside somebody else and make them feel something.
"Country music still excites me like I'm four years old," he adds. "There have always been so many possibilities with country. Cash was doing what he was doing, and Merle was doing his own thing, too. There were all these different country artists, but it was always still country music. And country music is still cool."
Your musical inspirations?
Anything and everything can be inspiring to me. Life is inspiring, in all its darks and lights, and if I'm living fully and consciously there's always something worth writing about. It can be a gorgeous landscape, a painful and wrenching experience, personal growth, a painting or poem or movie that reaches in to my guts and connects, something stupid I did, a love affair, a family dynamic, an abstract concept, something a stranger said on the street, a particular rhythm when I'm walking, a funny-colored piece of mud on my shoe... really, anything and everything.
For instance, "Past Unconditional", one of the songs on my new cd "Breaking the Habit", was inspired by a combination of T.S.Eliot's poem "Four Quartets", a day out with a dear friend discussing reincarnation and seeing a Lee Krasner exhibit, Lee Krasner's art itself, Sting's experimentation with asian instrumentation combined with solid and interesting grooves, my desire to experiment with percussion loops, and a Paula Cole song "The Rhythm of Life". I didn't set out to write a song about any of those things but my memory and experience of each were somehow melted down, added to my own individual take on life and musical ear, and poured into a song.
Having said that, I probably had no idea what had inspired it while I was writing -- the actual experience of writing is more magical for me, more alchemic, a matter of allowing the elements to make their way towards each other and sculpt themselves into some kind of work of art. In the end, I'm never really sure how in control of that process I am, and how much of it comes from outside of me and just uses me as a conduit. There's a very clear and powerful feeling of connection to something "other" when a song is really flowing well, a feeling which I think leads a lot of songwriters to say that "the songs write themselves". And in a way, they do.
Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?
So, so many... Kate Bush "Hounds of Love", "This Woman's Work", "Never be Mine", Sting's "Shape of my Heart", Alanis Morissette's "Thank You" and "Everything", U2's "One", Tori Amos' "Silent All These Years", any of Tom Waits' more heartfelt work, Suzanne Vega's "Small Blue Thing", Joni Mitchell's "River" and "A Case of You"... and more than anything, Eva Cassidy's rendition of "Over the Rainbow", which I can never, ever listen to without getting shivers down my spine. That woman could get inside and under the skin of a song like no one else I've ever heard.
How has music inspired you?
In so many ways, every day of my life... Other people's music inspires me according to its individual nature: Alanis inspires me to continue to grow as a person and maintain a sense of humor about it. Tom Waits inspires me to accept myself exactly as I am and not sweat the small stuff, with a healthy dose of disregard for social norms. Kate Bush and Tori inspire me to let my imagination and creativity run wild and uncensored. Eva Cassidy inspires me to find that quiet small place in the heart, that point of light, and to feel it as fully and as deeply as I can. Rachmaninoff inspires me to give full vent to my passions... and so on. Every musician I love contributes somthing unique to my life in the way of inspiration.
Has music helped you thru a difficult or traumatic time in your life?
Listening to the music I love helps me feel things more deeply, which in turn allows me to process trauma more quickly... that connection, that sense of not being alone in what you're going through, not being the first to experience it, really helps -- but what helps me the most when I'm wading through the quagmire is writing music.
When I experience something traumatic, I almost always need -- and need, not want, is definitely the term here - to write a song about it. It's my way of healing. Writing brings me to a deeper understanding, and allows me to wallow in my pain for a while, and then - once the song is complete - just let it go and start to breathe again. Also, now that I'm aware of that process, one of my first thoughts when something goes very wrong is "well, at least I'll get a good song out of it." That helps too.
Joanna was born in England and trained in classical piano, developing an overpowering love of music at an early age. She decided to focus on her other passion - writing - during her college years, studying English Language and Literature at Oxford University; but she sang in choirs and musicals, a cappella groups and bands along the way.
Arriving in Los Angeles in 1996, Joanna found day jobs on the TV shows Frasier and Star Trek, did session work for Vitamin Records and the Animal Planet channel, and formed the band DragonEye in 1999. She had a moment of epiphany when she realized she could combine her two great passions by penning the band's original material as well as performing it. She has been writing songs like a crazed thing ever since, pausing only to compose a couple of film scores (including the award-winning short The Picnic) and commercial slots for California Clinical Trials.
Joanna counts among her strongest influences those singer/songwriters who are not only exceptional musicians and artists, but are also, to one degree or another, extraordinary lyricists expressing a truly personal vision - Kate Bush, Bjork, Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Annie Lennox, Fiona Apple - sometimes even the heartfelt simplicity of Jewel, Sheryl Crow or Dido. Joanna honed her songwriting skills studying with Phil Swann at UCLA. Her solo debut 'Breaking the Habit' was released in February 2004.
Has music helped you thru a difficult or traumatic time in your life?
Music has always helped me through every single day, whether that day has been chaotic or the day of my dreams. Music is the soundtrack of life,
keeping me company either inside or outside my head, music of all kinds from pop to opera, classical to rap, world beat, or folk~ the only requirement is that it move me in some way. To me, music has the ability to heal sorrow by speaking to the heart. Music enhances joy, lifts us up, makes us want to dance, cry, laugh, play, beat our chests and let ourselves be filled. It is vibration, connection, the resonance of the deep and real electrical currency that travels through one and all, from one to all, and on and on, telling us about each other, and about ourselves.
In particular, as an example of a song that moves me, and that showed up
twice in my life~ Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now sounded beautiful and
innocent to my twenty year old ears, and when I heard her sing her new
version decades later, it sounded beautiful and wise, coming from a soul who had a few cracks and fissures from the living of life, and to my
forty-whatever ears, it spoke intimately to me once again and from the other side, and once again I felt kinship, and I swayed in union with her new understandings of her own words.
Shannon Rubicam, born in Seattle, the city of high drama mountain ranges to the east and west, overlooked by Mount Rainier in the south, waterways everwhere, rain, and eventual home and final resting place of Kurt Cobain. and Ivar Haglund. (any Seattlites remember 'im?)
SHANNON: ....first of all: I write music for the sheer love of music. it has ever been so for me. my life has always, as with so many people, had a soundtrack to it. starting with joan baez, gordon lightfoot, bob dylan, the stones, the beatles, iron butterfly, jimi hendrix, joni mitchell, the kinks, cream, moody blues, jackson browne, crosby stills nash and young, and on and on through the years, and of course i will think of many more as soon as i am finished with this. i live in pictures and sound, they are my memories, my present, i dream in that realm about the future, and thank god. without music, how could i remember a fall afternoon senior year, heading home from school, friends going by in their cars, radio blasting "hey jude"........ music is my heaven, and also my pergatory. my successes are the skyrockets that light my life, and my failures send me crashing. but the miracle of music is that it lives and breathes powerful life, no matter what, creates the fire, and nothing compares to the feeling of just having written a new song~the buzz is incomparable. music cares not about success or failure, it simply IS. so to stop out of discouragement (i have) or fear (i have) is to die a little death, and i am finally learning the truth of that. keep writing, burn. our surprising success came all at once, two hits for whitney houston (how will i know and i wanna dance with somebody), three albums for boymeetsgirl (boy meets girl, reel life, and new dream) a scattering of recordings of our songs by other recording artists...all good fortune, opportunity and preparedness in collision!!!
....and then there was a slowdown, during which time George and I spent time appreciating and diving headlong into life with our daughter, taking time to remove ourselves from the business of music, to shed some accumulated cynicism about it, and to miss it just enough to want to get back in the game. we also recently experienced our own personal life alterations, course changes and corrections, renewal, and the designing of new lives. our brand spankingly fresh album, called the wonderground, is the tale of our divorce amidst the making of music, revision of self, continuation of family and friendships, and the learning of the true meaning of love and respect for one another; the gift therein~ a return to a sense of wonder. life is a large scale event, surely. we love this album for the focus it brought to a tumultuous chapter in our lives, and for the joy of creation that arrived when we least expected it.
....on the daily task of writing: most of the time writing is a small task of the day, which is not to say it takes only a small amount of time, but that it isn't guaranteed to bring in a big fat lotto windfall complete with truckloads of glory, so it's just a matter of what's in your heart or on your mind to say that day, lyrically or musically. many things we've written have never been heard by anyone, and they would not stand up to the competitive market, no matter how much we love them. it can be deeply disappointing to work hard for apparently no known compensation, no net to catch your fall, no visible reward for all the dedication and commitment to songwriting.....and yet these are the risks of the terrain, and the rewards are often simply the great satisfaction of having created something from nothing, expression where there was none. passing along what we can to others up and coming is also a source of joy and learning.
....first song: one night long ago, on a houseboat in seattle, i dreamed a perfect hippie dream that joni mitchell (my heroine at the time) was sitting on a large rock singing a song to the whole outdoors...i thought "i like that song, it's so beautiful". when i woke up i realized i'd never heard it before, hey, because i wrote it! i was the writer this time....and thus began my writing of songs.
....mentors: thom bell of the "philly sound" has been a mentor in the songcrafting realm, arif mardin in the producing arena, tom werman and phil ramone too, every songwriter whose song i've played over and over because i couldn't get enough, life itself and all the people in my life, you get the picture.
....the catalog: 4 albums for BoyMeetsGirl. first one self-titled Boy Meets Girl, produced with Tom Werman. Reel Life produced with Arif Mardin, and New Dream produced with Arif and Phil Ramone (who has a number of great anagrams), and The Wonderground produced by us, How Will I Know, I Wanna Dance With Somebody(Who Loves Me) for Whitney Houston, songs for Bette Midler, Deniece Williams, Phyllis Hyman, Smokey Robinson, Sheena Easton, Holly Near, and more.
oh and...i'm having an exceptional, extraordinary life! i love my family, my daughter, friends, movies, music, books, the peace and violence of nature, the wonder of it all, the ups and downs, the inside and outside, body, heart, soul, soulfulness, the humor and irony of being human, i am touched through and through.
Wow...the game of life has been so good to me. When I take a look at all the cool offerings the music life I chose gave me so far, it's a kaleidoscope of fun.
WOW!!! We worked with Thom Bell, only the guy responsible for some of my favorite music ever...great songs like "Betcha By Golly Wow"& "You Are Everything" (Stylistics), and "My Melody"& "Silly"(Deniece Williams) to scratch the surface of his talent. Thom signed us to his publishing company Mighty Three Music. We had a writing room in Pioneer Square(Seattle) with a Fender Rhodes and a funky Marantz cassette deck, and we sat in there and wrote songs...I think we were his pop-rock writers, because we weren't very funky. But occasionally we'd come up with a gem. Thom recorded two of our songs with Phyllis Hyman, a fabulous jazz vocalist. I think "Your Move(My Heart)" turned out well, and it was amazing to hear strings and full production on something we wrote.
Thom produced Deniece Williams, and took me back to Philadelphia to sing backing vocals, and play synthesizer. I had two Oberheim synths, two+four-voices, and they were always going out of tune. They sounded cool, but for live sessions with Deniece singing, yikes. But it worked out...Thom was experimenting, and his ideas were...neato! He and I sang BVs on "It's Gonna Take A Miracle", and "Hotline", and "Sweet Surrender" to name a few...what a blast.
Deniece had Shannon & I sing BVs on her big hit "Let's Hear It For The Boy" from the "Footloose" soundtrack, and later we toured the world with her, visiting places like Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. That was a good time, Deniece, thanks!
As mentors go, ours have been responsible for pleasing millions of happy listeners. Take Arif Mardin, who helped us take the demo of "Waiting For A Star To Fall" and make it a hit record, or Tom Werman, who guided us through our first studio album as BoyMeetsGirl...or Phil Ramone, who figured out a way we could do a great sounding record in our garage. Along the way, each one taught us oodles about making music, and enjoying the process.
I've been asked about influences along the way; my brother used to turn me on to his 45s, I remember Eric Burdon+The Animals, and a host of sweet pop lovesongs, Ian + Sylvia...and very early on in my discoveries, it was the Beatles, Stones, Young Rascals, Bread, The Monkees(great songsmiths that wrote those pop songs!), Elton John+Bernie Taupin, a bit of the Beach Boys. Then I started getting hip to the metal bands, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath especially, Slade, and THAT led me to the great rock bands like Steppenwolf, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allmann Brothers, 10 Years After, and eventually my faves Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull, who gave some of the most memorable live shows.......later in high school I started hearing James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and they blew my mind with the depth of lyric and melody...Carol King's "Tapestry" album, Loggins and Messina, Phoebe Snow + Janis Ian, WOW!!! I loved Hall+Oates, and they were part of the 'blue-eyed soul' that I had in me, probably spawned by The Stylistics, The O.J.'s+ Spinners, and Stevie Wonder, who was a huge writing influence, and too, DONNY HATHAWAY...aaiii!!!! Dorothy Moore, Deniece Williams...and then the California influences like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, especially Wendy Waldman, The Eagles, Jackson Browne all kicked in. And I became aware of Danny O'Keefe(being from Seattle) and his 'Breezy Stories' album, wow. Great songs told so well. Oops; did I leave someone out?
Really, all music continues to fascinate me; whether it's the music theory in my head that allows me to hear how a song's constructed, or purely my passion...I love expression, and especially through music.
As far as BoyMeetsGirl history goes, the allmusic.com site knew more about me than I did!!! Shannon and I are most musically known for our songwriting, particularly the two songs we wrote for Whitney Houston, "How Will I Know", and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody(Who Loves Me)". Actually, HWIK was dashed off for Janet Jackson as a commitment to our publishing company, Almo-Irving...we wrote it so we could get back to our own songs and album for Boy Meets Girl. It was there that our musical lives took a turn; Janet passed(she was recording her "Control" album with Jam+ Lewis) and Almo sent the song to Arista Records for a niece of Dionne Warwick, who seemed to be getting a lot of attention. It turned out that Clive Davis liked the song, and asked me to fly back and meet Kashif, who was producing some songs for her...they thought maybe we could work on HWIK together. Well, Kashif was nice, he played some of Whitney's amazing vocals on his Synclavier...but he was swamped with work, and my head was still aimed toward the Boy Meets Girl project...and so I passed as well. As things happen, the right thing did when Clive Davis sent the song to Narada Michael Walden, who produced it with help from Preston + Alan Glass, Randy Jackson, and other great players. And when they called us from San Rafael to play us a rough mix, wow, I knew we were part of something special with Whitney Houston.
Meanwhile, we made our first record for A&M with Tom Werman. The song "Oh Girl" was the chosen single, and it did just crack the TOP 40, we played on American Bandstand, met Dick Clark, made our first video, and generally got a taste of hitting the BIGTIME!!! Wow, heady days. (Sidenote: you can hear Hilary our daughter wailing in the last verse of "Oh Girl"...right after I sing "the left holds it tight"!)
There is so much tell; the "Reel Life" album, the success of "Waiting For A Star To Fall", our "New Dream" album(recorded, but never released by RCA/BMG), and all that led to our new album "The Wonderground.