It Takes a Village: The Musical Guests of “I Love You”

I Love You

 

To date, some of my best recording experiences have been collaborations. In fact, prior to recording I Love You, I helped lead two different music compilation album projects. The first was a compilation done in San Francisco with over twenty music artists from the Hotel Utah, a popular open mic and center of San Francisco’s singer-songwriter community. The second was Eclipse: A Collection of International Artists, for which I also collaborated with Josh Wolfer to co-write We Are Unbreakable.  In both compilations I got to experience how fun it can be to work in a group setting towards a common recording goal.

I guess in a way it is fitting then that with I Love You I should do an album that thrives on this group energy.   A variety of amazing artists contributed their talents to this album, and I would like to give each of them a moment of recognition right now:

 

The Artists of “I Love You” (clicking on the artist’s name to visit their web page):

Allan “The Next Level” Samson (vocals on “Thank You Baby”):

Allan, all-around musical powerhouse and founder of The Next Level TV, has been a good friend of mine since I met him at Chabot College in Hayward, CA several years ago.  We collaborated extensively, including releasing an EP together called “Gotta Get It.” I also played keys for his single “Strip for Me,” released in 2010.  Allan is a great guy and a tireless worker, who is known for his prodigious music interviews of underground hip hop artists and his unstoppable spirit.  His delightful verse on “Thank You Baby” lends fun to the fesitivities and reaffirms for me how much I value our friendship.

Larisa Bryski (vocals and piano on “You Are Loved”):

Larisa, a highly accomplished singer-songwriter and voice teacher in the Sacramento area (my voice teacher in fact), was a friend of my wife’s before I ever worked with her.  In fact, she helped my wife out in producing a song that my wife gave me for my birthday one year (which completely knocked the socks off me and was the last thing I would have expected for a birthday present!).   I was absolutely astonished when I first heard Larisa’s recording of “You Are Loved,” as it lifted the song to new heights of emotional poignancy I never knew it could reach.

Kimiko Joy (vocals on “Tickled Pink”):

Kimiko, a singer from the Bay Area, was someone I had been referred to several years ago when I was looking for a singer to sing on my album at the time.  Though the album never ended up being produced, one song from it, “Tickled Pink,” with Kimiko’s soulful vocals harmonizing of the chorus, was a necessary addition  to “I Love You.”

Beth Duncan (vocals on “Fearless Heart”):

Beth, a brilliant jazz singer, was a friend of my wife’s when I first met her.  She has put out several albums, the most recently being “Comes the Fall,” which, according to www.bethduncan.com,  “is a sweetly sophisticated collection of stunning originals by composer Martine Tabilio and imaginative arrangements of cherished jazz standards.”   Before “I Love You” was even a thought in my mind, I asked Beth if she was interested in singing “Fearless Heart.”  I sent her the recording of me singing it with the sheet music, and thought nothing more of it until it came time to record the album.  Despite her busy schedule, Beth was gracious enough to record for the album, and I am grateful for it.

Martin “Lord Lav” Lavender (vocals on “Snuggle Bunny”)

Martin, a good friend of mine whom I met through our mutual music mentor Tom Hess, is an outstanding hip hop artist and producer.  Hailing from Southampton, England, Martin and I had worked extensively throughout last year on music when I asked him to be a part of this project.  His sense of humor, dedication to his craft, and overall likeability and charm as a person make him a great collaborator.  His new album “Lord of the Dead,” a concept album about being in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, is expected in 2013.  His verse in “Snuggle Bunny” lends the song a cheeky sense of humor that could only be possible from from the likes of UK’s finest hip hop aristocrat Lord Lav!

Jonas Goslow (vocals on “You’re My Lover So Come On Over”)

My brother, Jonas Goslow, is a highly talented creative person and a songwriter in his own right.  A stage actor by training, Jonas also excels in songwriting and singing.   I thought his deeply personal, emotionally charged singing style would be perfect for “You’re My Lover So Come On Over,” and in fact, I liked his performance so much I re-recorded my piano playing to more closely go with his voice.

Amber Lee Baker (vocals on “Our Love”)

Amber is a highly creative singer and songwriter whom I met several years ago in a songwriting workshop in the Bay Area, CA.  Amber performs under “Amber Lee and the Anomalies,” for which she plays the accordian and sings her songs.  Amber is also is a part of a yearly calendar series called the “Accordian Babes Pinup Calendar.”  Amber’s two albums, “Indelible” and “Estuaries,” show a gifted songwriter with a unique sound, and her vocal work on “Our Love” I think helps make it unforgettable.

Dario Napoli (guitar on “Here with You I’m Home”)

Dario is a great friend of mine and a supremely accomplished guitarist dedicated to gypsy jazz.  Hailing from Italy, Dario is an internationally touring artist who’s first album, Dienne Manouche, helped to establish his reputation as a major contributor to modern gypsy jazz.  He is about to release his second album, “Make it a Sunny Day,” and most recently Dario is a leading lecturer and performer in Boston at a prominent gypsy jazz festival.  I very much enjoyed the instrumental “alchemy,” as one person put it, that resulted from our collaboration on “Here with You I’m Home.”

Rob Kennedy (drums on “Thank You Baby,” “Snuggle Bunny,” “Our Love”)

Rob is a drummer from the Sacramento area whom I met  last year at a local open mic.  We started doing a little collaboration by him sending me drums tracks to which I would write a verse and record over it.  The enthusiasm I had for this led me to ask Rob if he would drum for several of the songs.  The result I think is to help give the three songs of  “I Love You” a raw rhythmic energy that works nicely with my rap verses and also helps give the album the punch it needs.

Josh Wolfer (mixing for all songs)

Josh, a brilliant engineer as well as a musician and songwriter in his own right, is a good friend of mine whom I met in Tom Hess’s Music Careers Mentoring Program several years ago.  We collaborated on “We Are Unbreakable,” and I have since taken several projects to him to either record and/or mix.  It was only natural for me to go to him for this project.  Josh currently lives in Texas with his wife.

Charr Crail (artwork, overall muse)

It would be hard to say enough about this woman, as she is not only responsible for the artwork of the album, she is also responsible for inspiring everything on it. Charr, a fantastic artist in her own right, also happens to be my wife. It was for her that I originally created this album last year as a birthday present. Yet, as fate would have it, it seemed the album was destined to be shared with the world. Thank you sweetie, for your love and inspiration.

A huge thank you goes out to all of these artists for their fine contributions to “I Love You!”

Buy your copy of I Love You

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