JUNGLE JIM KIDZ in the recording studio!
The task was daunting. Record 9 songs in two 4- hour sessions in a new recording studio with a new audio engineer, using a new musical director, and working with four girls between 8-10 years old! A friend said, “we no longer need proof of your insanity.”
Well, I thought, these girls had just completed the workshop version of JUNGLE JIM KIDZ, so they know the music. And, they come from the amazing program, Ovation, so they probably know how to read music. Also, I had just worked with the new musical director, Carolyn Brady, on another show, and we just hummed together… so I thought, this will be doable.
I wanted a recording studio near the girls’ school so that their parents did not have to travel into Chicago during rush hour, and I found a studio online that looked great. Individual rooms, experienced engineers, great reputation, appropriate equipment, and reasonable price. I thought that was a great start.
I also needed to hire a “youth supervisor” (these used to be called “child wranglers” but no more). And what better person to use than Ragan Hughes – the director of the JUNGLE JIM KIDZ workshop at Ovation.
But not so fast! The day did not start out well.
The studio was in a very old, abandoned looking warehouse, with parking signs that said if you did anything wrong your car would be towed. I arrived a bit late (I am NEVER late… but traffic was nonstop) to find a line of cars outside the front door. They were the parents transporting the child singers. But – a small sign of hope — as I parked, I realized that the other adults (Carolyn and Ragan) had already arrived and had taken control. Parents said goodbye, and we all headed into the studio. The staff was finishing setting up and after adjusting all the microphones to the height of the girls (which is a big deal), we did a sound test.
All of the child singers had never recorded before, so they had to be taught the basics. How to wear a headset (one covering one ear and the other not so that they could hear themselves), how to lean back when you sing loud, how to not make sound when you turn the music page, and on and on. But, remarkably, they did not need to be told twice.
We were ready to record. I had planned four songs the first day and five the second. All were short songs, and we used our recorded music for the accompaniment. The first song took some time. The girls had to get over their shyness, go to the bathroom (multiple times), and position their music stands. First song, first take – not good. “Great job” I said, “Let’s do it again.” Again…not so great. We gave some notes then something clicked. The third take was great. (Usually, we record many times and combine bits and pieces from each take and put it into the “final” take.) We moved on to the next song.
Let me skip to the end here… in ONE session we recorded all nine songs! Some songs were great in one take. (But we did multiple takes anyway.) A few really needed the multiple takes. But they all got done, and done well! I was blown away. We finished right on time. I let everyone go, and – most Important –told them there was no need to come back the next day.
Huge congrats to our incredible musical director, Carolyn Brady, who encouraged and enthusiastically corrected the girls. Another shout out to Ragan Hughes – who I am sure put out multiple fires that I was unaware of. And of course, to the amazing artists I got to collaborate with that day. What a team!
Blessed and grateful. To listen to the demos click HERE.