When several of us sat down together to discuss what would become “The Avalon Project” on a five-hour conference call (including women from the San Francisco-Bay Area, New York and Philadelphia) in October, one of the themes that emerged was visibility. Our webmaven, Barbara Brust, suggested that there was no better way to celebrate feminist process than to show it. This section, then, is dedicated to sharing “the making of Avalon.”
We will be posting photos from various meetings, rehearsals and recording sessions as this work-in-process unfolds. We hope you enjoy this “back-stage” look.
To speak to us about booking Margie in concert contact: Info@margieadam.com
Getting ready to record the 9 songs and 3 compositions that are Avalon has involved many steps. None has been more compelling than my return to Faith Winthrop, vocal teacher extraordinaire. Faith and I began to work together in 1982 when I was preparing to record We Shall Go Forth! a live album. Back then, I was much less confident of myself as a singer and knew that the pressure of doing a live recording was likely to compromise my voice. I studied with her for weeks before the recording dates and the work paid off.
Since that first project together, she has climbed into each new collection of songs I have written including Here Is a Love Song and Another Place. With the most sensitive yet challenging suggestion, she has not only helped me identify the right key for each song but has helped me find “breathing room” amidst all the artistic and emotional intention.
One of the most artistically inspiring relationships I have ever had has been my association with singer/songwriter Diane Lindsay, bassist on Avalon. Diane has laid down brilliant lyrical bass lines on every vocal album I’ve recorded since Margie Adam. Songwriter. in 1976. Her understanding and sensitivity to my music have resulted in breath-taking rhythmic ideas and “penultimate fills” on each album. I knew that when she heard the new songs that are the Avalon collection, she would know exactly how to help me shape them rhythmically.
When I asked Diane to recommend a drummer/percussionist who would be the best match for my music, she immediately mentioned Jeanette Wrate, another player from Los Angeles. Jeanette has been associated with the women’s big band, Maiden Voyage and endless other projects in and out of Women’s Music circles for decades. Her jazz impulses are the perfect complement to the steady pop rhythms of many of my songs.
What happened is that they drove up from LA to the San Francisco area with all their equipment – actually with all Jeanette’s drum/percussion equipment jammed into an SUV. Once they landed here, we set up camp in my living room and spent the next 8 days rehearsing from one end of the day to the other – adding and subtracting all the details of rhythm that give each song its own unique “feel.”
The three of us created the “bed” for each song – the foundation on which all the rest of the instrumental arranging would take place. It was both fascinating and exhilarating beyond belief to be singing, playing the piano AND listening as these two fine musicians magnified each song’s personality and intention with their musicianship and artistic impulses.
Toward the end of rehearsal week, Barbara Higbie arrived with her trusty fiddle in toe and added her part to the arrangement of “Waves.” (Some of you may recognize this title from my first solo piano recording, Naked Keys.) This brilliant musician and dear friend was the producer of my most recent piano solo album Soon and Again. Our deep connexion was forged in the studio and then bolted together forever on the Three of Hearts solo piano tour which I coordinated and also included Liz Story. The idea to re-record “Waves” as an instrumental grew from the wonderful experience I had playing the tune with Barbara while we were on tour.
Next Installment: The Women in Studio D”
Tracking” with Diane Lindsay, Jeanette Wrate, Barbara Higbie, Michelle Sell and Freyda Epstein.