I’ve always loved going in the recording studio.
Working with professional musicians, seeing a song come together, collaborating on melodies and harmonies and arrangement options…I usually sit there with a massive grin planted on my face like a simpleton, feeling a little over my head (in a good way), and loving every second of the process.
I’ve been back in the “studio” lately, working on a song with some of the farm kids. It’s one of the last tasks I want to complete before I leave the Mission in five days.
The song is a perk we promised from the Indiegogo campaign we ran a few months back. When we came up with it, it was really a pipe dream. Initially, we were hoping to raise $4000 to build 100 school desks, and as an afterthought, we put in a $4000 contribution button. If someone was willing to fund our entire campaign, what would they receive? This is what we wrote:
For single-handedly helping us reach our goal, we have no words. And so we’ll sing! We will record an original song with your name in it, sung by the orphanage children and recorded on video for you to keep. All other perks included.
We never expected anyone to take us up on this offer, but amazingly, one couple in California did. They were strangers until that moment. They just stumbled upon our story, loved the kids and the videos, and forked over four grand. The world is indeed a surprising place.
And so we’ve gotten to work. I’ve written the words and the music for a song called “One Voice.” The idea is: Alone we can’t do much. One voice can only sing so loud just as one donation can only make so much of a difference. But together, there’s no limit. If we sing with one voice, if we work together, we can change the world. The $42,000 we raised on our School Desks campaign was proof of that.
My talented friend, John Stuart back in Gorham, is acting as Producer (for free) on the project, turning my rough acoustic demo into an actual arranged song. Then Katie Rana, a musical long-term volunteer at the Mission, pulled together a group of singers, helped to rehearse them, and allowed her room to be turned into a make-shift recording facility. It’s not Sun Studios but it’s working well enough.
Cynthia loved recording, singing for hours. We couldn’t monitor her so she had to count herself in and change keys without prompting, all of which she did like a pro.
Cynthia is the lead diva on the project. She’s six, delicate as a flower. But she sings on key like a cute Indian mouse, and she’s a fearless performer. Unlike many of the bigger kids who sing in the song’s ensemble chorus and shied away from my camera and the spotlight, little Cynthia seems to shine brighter the more attention she has.
“So much fun we had yesterday,” she told me today as I walked her up the road to school, holding hands. “I think I will be a singer, Uncle.” Which is a wonderful dream for someone who was literally thrown into a storm drain at three months old by her mother and left for dead.
The song isn’t done, but I threw together this quick little rehearsal track to give you an idea. It’s still got to be mixed and sweetened which is something I hope to be a part of when I get back to the states. But even here on the Mission, recording off my laptop and using a tiny portable mic, I still got that same studio feeling…
Loving all the talent around me, smiling like a simpleton, feeling lucky just to be in the room.