11th Annual Folk/Singer-Songwriter Album Winner
11th Annual Folk/Singer-Songwriter Album
Vox Pop Winner
11th Annual Love Song Vox Pop Winner
11th Annual Story Song Nominee
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Record Label: Glorious Bluebirds
Home Base: Boston, MA
Genre: Folk, Singer/Songwriter
Categories Entered: Folk/Singer-Songwriter Album, Love Song, Story Song
Work Submitted: You Go Your Way (LP)
Artists Featured: Amy Correia
Label: Glorious Bluebirds
Who are your influences? My melodic and lyrical sensibilities must come from my mother and the “song and dance” that was introduced to me before I was born. My mother seemed to have the lyrics and melodies to a hundred songs and they’d crop up at all times of the day and night (and still do) completely intact from her own childhood, when her mother played piano and her ten brothers and sisters gathered around to sing from the Great American Songbook. These songs were distinctly American, popular, clever, wistful, gay or blissfully silly. I remember hearing for the first time: “Abba Dabba Honeymoon” “Old Dan Tucker” and “A, You’re Adorable” as well as “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Ac-centuate the Positive” and “Moon River.” To me these songs held ancient wisdoms, deep mysteries and romantic truths –– Who was Dan Tucker and how on earth did he manage to comb his hair with a wagon wheel? Their hooky melodies and vivid images pressed into my mind and made me feel “ten feet tall.” (“Thumbelina” performed by Danny Kaye was my own personal battle cry as the youngest and only girl in my family.) Then there was the soldier’s warning to his girl, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” its cheerful façade covering a possibly sinister threat to my child’s mind and begged the question: What did this SOB intend to do if she DID sit under the apple tree with anyone else but him? I could see the amorous baboons in their tree and hear them chattering that primal language which to this day eludes any understanding and has inspired many songs about the incomprehensibility of dating and marriage. One of my favorites was “A You’re Adorable” because my name starts with “A” and I somehow believed this song was actually written about and for me. (My mother may have told me that as well, and I willingly believed.) Plus, my mother claimed that Bing Crosby was a second cousin to her (a claim never substantiated, but frequently reinforced), so I felt that perhaps it was not impossible. Wasn’t Bing friends with Perry Como? These songs all seemed a part of my birthright and heritage and while my two older brothers jeered and rolled their eyes, I loved my mother pulling these songs out of a hat and belting them out a capella. Speaking of which: I feel I can say “pulled out of a hat” with some degree of un-ironic confidence because these old-timey parlances were the sounds and images that helped shaped my imagination and, for better and worse, tend to find their way into my songs. Words like “sin” and “evil” and “Lord” can crop up, too, not only from the songs I was exposed to as a child, but also from a relentless and exacting Catholic upbringing at the hands of my parents. Again, these are not ironic uses of the terms; they seem to arise very much literally and sincerely like ancient mutterings encoded in my DNA from a long line of would-be saints and sinners.
Beyond my mom’s influence there was also the riotous diversity of 1970s radio that contained a shimmering array of styles and sounds. How was it possible to hear Sammy Davis Jr.’s the “Candy Man”, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Glenn Campbell singing “Rhinestone Cowboy” all on the same station in the same hour? What else can I say? I consider myself very lucky to have been born in 1968 for this reason. The third and final influence I can ascertain was an older cousin who introduced me to music beyond the radio, whom I worshipped as the older, wiser and much cooler relation from a place where they spoke “correctly” (New York) and not “laughably stupid” (Massachusetts), as she explained it. I’d say from the time I was nine or ten years-old, she gave me a patient and impassioned tutelage of the great music of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, from Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley to Bob Dylan and The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix. We dressed like The Small Faces and cut our hair into jagged shags, donning long scarves and trying to pass for English people at the mall. It was a joyful, even creative, escape and the two of us fancied ourselves at turns mods, rockers and “mockers” (to quote John Lennon).When I really consider those influences that touched my lyrical and musical heart, I look back to my mother, my irrepressible cousin and 1970s radio, but in truth it’s a lot like looking down a rabbit hole and the whole game remains a wonderful mystery–– how any one of us finds our voice.
Describe your nominated work. “Rugged but elegant.” -Producer/Arranger of this album, Paul Bryan
You Go Your Way is 11 songs, recorded live in Culver City, CA in 3 days by engineer Ryan Freeland (Jay Bellerose on drums, Paul Bryan on electric bass and me on lead vocal/rhythm guitar etc.). Gospel vocal parts were created on the spot by two young singers (Alethea Mills and Chavonne Morris) and recorded in a day. Paul wrote arrangements over a couple weeks and conducted a string quartet and 5-piece horn section over two days in NYC. The album was mixed by Ryan Freeland back in L.A. in about two weeks…
This album has a live, raw feel. It’s an earthy album with the vocals and rhythm section very much with “feet on the ground” and solid, but the gospel harmonies and string quartet lend this divine quality to my ear…
The album was a leap of faith in two ways to me: It was made entirely by money raised with fans and we started the album before we had raised enough money, believing enough money would come in, and thankfully, the money did come in. Artistically, it was a leap of faith because we decided to limit the musical choices to a strict “palette of sound.” We chose string quartet and additional vocal parts (and in one song a horn section) as the only musical counterpoint to the live and driving rhythm section. The songs are stylistically diverse so this consistent sonic palette helps to connect the songs and make the album feel like a unified whole.
There are also threads of meaning that tie the songs together thematically as well as sonically:
1.“You Go Your Way” – a stomping declaration of independence based around a primal piano riff
2.“Love Changes Everything” – Mary Oliver’s wild geese fly through this one with gospel robes
3.“Powder Blue Trans Am” – “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” in high heels
4.“Took Him Away” – a “protest song” from a young boy’s point of view whose dad goes to war
5.“Carolina Rail” – Chuck Berry takes Lucinda Williams to New Orleans (with a 5-piece horn section)
6.“City Girl” – a cinematic portrait of a girl, whose bedroom “ain’t big enough to have a decent dream in.”
7.“Rock, Tree, River” – a dark journey into the woods with orchestral strings
8.“O Lord” – a gospel-inflected “battle cry” in the wilderness
9.“Old Habits” – Marianne Faithful waltzing with Mary Poppins
10.“Broken/Open” – Buddhist monks wade in the ocean of Sunyata
11. “Celli Singing to us” – the light of the sun between us
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? Beyond the string quartet and gospel singers (which were unusual elements for me), ALL of the sounds are special to me. You’d have to ask the musicians and engineers how they got them: It’s the instruments they played, the way they played them and through what amps, etc. and the engineers that captured and shaped what was in the air. Musicians and engineers spend their lives dedicated to understanding and learning about sound and how to play and sing, and I think what every single person on this album contributed was quite unusual.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned? The biggest accident (unhappy) and resolution: The hard drive containing all the files malfunctioned and all the “data” (the recordings), everything, was lost. Ryan Freeland (engineer and mixer) had made a back-up copy so the album exists.
Because we were on a tight budget, everything was planned and timed to a T. It went pretty much as planned with of course surprising musical results in every case: The gospel singers blew my mind. I never dreamt of those parts for these songs, except for Love Changes Everyting and You Go Your Way, I had some ideas…but absolutely no clue what they would do for Powder Blue Trans Am, Carolina Rail, Took Him Away, etc. and to see them in no time flat, come up with these luminous fun and fresh parts and then perform them in one or two takes. It was really amazing.
Paul Bryan was on his own writing all the string quartet arrangements after the basic tracks were recorded so in that sense it was a total surprise and a wonderful one to me. The last arrangement he wrote (and it took him all of ten minutes I think) ended up being one of the happiest… He wasn’t going to write any horns for the record but I encouraged him to do so for that song and it came out great. It was really memorable seeing him conduct these groups and watch how the arrangements came to life in the recordings.
How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses? I raised money with fans. We raised $37K.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The 11th IMAs? I hoped to get a wider audience for my tunes and be part of an independent community.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it? My definition of success is working every day on music with purpose and joy – even if it’s for ten minutes. If I have formed a musical habit and allow myself to keep growing musically, then I’ll know I’ve “made it.”
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals? It’s been a good opportunity to breathe new life into the album and have it more widely heard…
Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique? I have very loyal fans. I don’t know if that’s unique, but it sure is appreciated.
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour? I don’t have any guilty pleasures on the road. It’s when I come off the road that the guilt sets in!
Mishaps: Thankfully nothing too serious.
Who are your musical heroes & influences? If I had to idolize one musician I’d say Nina Simone because of her integrity, musicianship and originality. She chose great songs for herself and always made them her own. She was a spellbinding performer.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why? All the old songs from the Great American Songbook…because I’d be rich and happy. Unfortunately though, I’d also be dead.
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans? Anais Mitchell has a great new album called “Young Man in America” and I listen to it constantly. Doubtful that is surprising, as she is one of my modern favorites. I listen to Cynic a lot too. They are friends, and I have sung on their last couple of albums. They’re historically described as a death metal band but I don’t think that fits them anymore. It’s something precise and progressive––and beautifully so.
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming? My friends mostly
How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free? Musicians will not make a living: Musicians will die poor and lonely with nothing but a rucksack full of half-finished songs and their beaten up guitars strapped to their backs.
What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today? Fans underestimate their importance and impact on musicians. The difference between a good show and a great show, for example, is often the audience and the attention and enthusiasm they give in the moment. I don’t think audiences always believe how central their role is. Also, the difference in the case of this album is that it was only able to get made because of their support/money.
Also: I find that fans assume musicians are more “successful” than they actually are (meaning: audiences think musicians are more popular or selling more albums or have more fans or make more money than is the reality.) This might be due in part to non-stop marketing efforts, everything from Twitter on up that insist everything is going really well for the musicians. It’s usually a lot messier than the soundbyte.
Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future? I think vinyl double albums are the wave of the future.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is…a crumbling empire, but music will still rise from the ashes.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year? A new duo album, a cover album of a friend’s songs and a few other things that I’m afraid if I mention it won’t happen.
Where fans can find you and your music:
Artist Website – www.amycorreia.com
Itunes – http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/amy-correia/id3096684
Amazon – www.amazon.com/You-Go-Your-Way/dp/B0044N5KTA