This article was written by Kiara Marques, a student at Fordham University and a self-proclaimed concert junkie, under the supervision of Jamie Alberici and Kayla Coughlan of Cyber PR.
20 Feet from Stardom
Starring Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and many others, 20 Feet from Stardom is a documentary about backup singers and the legendary vocalists they support. The film delves into the experiences of these singers, which is often noted as behind-the-scenes, even though their work is a vital contribution to the success of some of the biggest names in music. It is a tribute to the hard work, talent, and passion that goes into being a backup singer, and has received universal acclaim, winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2014.
Whitney is a documentary film about the life of American superstar Whitney Houston. In addition to highlighting the successes of one of the greatest vocalists in American history, it also takes a dive into her personal life, struggles, and issues. The film takes a look into the most human aspects of her life, the trials and tribulations she faced growing up and throughout her career, and brings to light another side of the reality faced by many of the glamorous artists in the music industry. The film received numerous nominations for different awards, winning Best Documentary Feature Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
Amy is a documentary film about the life and death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. Built on many rare home videos and interviews with the people in her inner circle, this film goes behind the scenes to tell the tale of the powerhouse artist and how her background and fame contributed to her unfortunate substance addiction and subsequent death. Amy does not portray Winehouse in a negative light, however. It strips away the tabloid-style “trainwreck” narrative that is no stranger to many who have faced similar situations, but instead seeks to show viewers who Amy Winehouse really was: an inspiring human and musical genius. The documentary received thirty film awards including a Grammy for Best Music Film and an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, as well as winning Winehouse a posthumous nomination for "British Female Solo Artist” at the 2016 BRIT Awards for its soundtrack.
Dreamgirls, starring Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, and Anika Noni Rose, is a musical drama film inspired by the history of the Motown record label and The Supremes, one of its most notable acts. The story is told through the eyes of a Detroit girl group, The Dreams, and is centered around the history of R&B music in the 1960s and 70s. Though it is a work of fiction, the film tells of a small black record label whose star group takes America by storm, which mirrors The Supremes’ legacy of changing American music forever. Dreamgirls is a hit film, having won many accolades such as three Golden Globes and two Academy Awards.
Homecoming is a concert film written, directed, and produced by Beyoncé about her 2018 headlining performance at Coachella. The film is an in-depth look into the performance, taking in the creative prowess and the cultural impact behind its execution. It combines footage of her performances from the two weekends at the festival as well as the months of rehearsal leading up to it. Throughout Homecoming, Beyoncé acknowledges the whiteness of Coachella, pointing out how she was the first black female singer to headline since its inception in 1999. Her iconic performances are a celebration of blackness, with an all black orchestra and dancers, which sends an empowering message to young black creatives and artists everywhere. Another focal point of the documentary was Beyoncé’s candidness about her difficult pregnancy the year before, and her struggle to get back into shape to deliver the high-intensity performance that fans expect. Winning numerous accolades, Homecoming truly delivers the raw talent and creative genius Beyoncé devotes to her craft.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
What Happened, Miss Simone? is a biographical documentary about Nina Simone and her rise as a singer and activist. Showing never-before-seen performances and recordings, this film sheds a light on her incredible talent, as well as her strength and passion for social justice. Complete with archival footage and interviews of her daughter, executive producer Lisa Simone Kelly, and other friends, What Happened, Miss Simone? is an intimate and important look into the life and power of Nina Simone.
Janis: Little Girl Blue
Janis: Little Girl Blue is a documentary about the life of Janis Joplin, one of the most influential Rock and Roll singers of all time. Using never before seen footage, interviews, and personal letters, Joplin’s story is told, showing the world much more than the life of a troubled artist. The film honors Joplin for who she truly was, an ambitious, funny, smart, and truly talented individual whose iconic legacy should reflect these qualities.
Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated
Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated is a documentary about the life and career of singer, songwriter, and actress Demi Lovato. It is a very raw and honest look into the obstacles that Lovato has gone through as a person, artist, and performer who grew up in the entertainment industry. She discusses her early career beginnings as a child star on Disney Channel and her many personal struggles with family relationships, bipolar disorder, bulimia, and addiction. The film comprises interviews with Lovato, her family, and industry professionals who have worked with her over the years. The world knows Demi Lovato and her talent, but with this film, we see the very honest and unedited version of the superstar
Amazing Grace is a 2018 concert film featuring soul legend Aretha Franklin, and her live recording of her 1972 album of the same name at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California. Originally set to be released in 1972, the film encountered many issues syncing the audio recordings to the live footage and was not picked up again until 2007, with Franklin’s family allowing its release in 2018. The film has been described as transcendent, with Franklin truly in her element delivering a powerful performance. The live album has received enormous critical acclaim, winning a 1973 Grammy award for Best Soul Gospel Performance, and to this date being the highest-selling live gospel music album of all time. The film also received massive success, having been nominated for many awards and winning the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary in 2019.
I recently caught up with my friend Amy Moreland via our Wednesday Night Chat series on Instagram. I’ve
known Amy for many years through the Austin music scene... in fact, my last live gig was sharing the stage
with her band, Brand New Key . In our chat, Amy and I talked about Crosspick Studio , her various pandemic
projects, and which instrument has been Amy’s quarantine buddy.
What were you up to pre-pandemic?
Pre-pandemic, my business partner, Ashley Welch, and I ran this studio together. It’s a small ensemble live
sound and mixing space. We can do production as well. We would have one or two bands in a month. We
started it in 2017, and in 2018, we started making a little income with it. We’ve recorded about two dozen
albums in the studio at this point. Since then, we’ve been doing complete production work, in the box. I really
miss musicians up here.
I know that you credit Ashley quite a bit with being your audio tech in that studio, but what have you learned
over the last few years?
Really tightening the simplicity of the signal chain. That has been really exciting. I came into the audio world
with some experience, some education, and intuition. My own aesthetic is acoustic instruments, so my gut
instinct is, put a good mic in a good location with a good musician. Build the vibe and that’s what should come
out on the other end. I went on a journey where I questioned that sensibility. “We have to have this plugin, or
that plugin!” Pro Tools made me question everything that was in the “simple” zone. But I think you come out
the other side and realized Pro Tools is just a tool. It’s a tool that can help fortify, but you still have to know
where the chains are coming from.
It requires a really patient person to be able to do that.
Yeah, absolutely. And going back into the digital space after getting that decent recording, really cleaning the
tracks, and spending that time on cleaning the visual space in Pro Tools. I’m a sucker for organization. I love
the lifelong learning.This is definitely a field to get involved with if you like non-stop learning. You can’t stop learning in this field.
What do you want to learn next?
I have access to the LinkedIn Learning series. I started a Pro Tools class. It’s really good, going back to basics.
I dip into that if I feel a little rusty from not recording anybody. Musically, I’m looking into using some new apps
for recording to record myself as I’m learning a new instrument. I’ve been working on some mixes that were
recorded before the pandemic, so I’m getting through the backlog. Sometimes I’m just looking around the
studio and thinking, “It might be time to learn [how to use that]”.
More about Amy :
Amy Moreland co-owns and runs Austin’s Crosspick Studio with business partner and head engineer, Ashley
Welch. Established in 2017, Crosspick Studio is a queer women-owned professional recording and production
studio for musicians and creatives. Amy is a 20-year veteran of the Austin music scene, playing guitar, bass, or
mandolin in a variety of bands, from early bluegrassers Cedar Fever to the mid-2000s indie-arthouse-weirdo
troupe Darling New Neighbors. For the last 8 years, she plays mandolin and manages the queergrass
Americana band, Brand New Key .
Crosspick Studio - Instagram
Written by Lisa Machac :
Lisa Machac is a musician and director of the Omni Sound Project, an organization dedicated to being the
most accessible point of entry to the music and audio industries. Omni Sound Project strives to provide
affordable opportunities for learning to under-represented communities as well as spotlight the talents of
female and gender non-conforming audio professionals.
Connect with Omni Sound Project : Website | Facebook | Instagram
ALBUM REVIEW/ HIGH HEELS & HEAVY THINGS - CARRIE WELLING PORTRAYS THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF LIFE WITH DEBUT ALBUM
Carrie Welling is an Americana artist from Nashville who just released her debut album High Heels and Heavy Things on September 18th. It is a mix of country, pop, americana, and other sounds. Having so many sounds one one record can be confusing, but Carrie manages to combine them into a cohesive, incredible, work. This comes after her EP released back in 2015.
Most of the record was produced by Eric Holljes, with the exception of the title track produced by Alex Wong. Gabriel Klein, Gideon Klein, Eric Holljes, Alex Wong and Brianna Sage, among others, lend their talents to back Carrie on these tracks.
The first track out of the gate is Settle Me Down. This uptempo and catchy tune talks about not needing someone to settle down with. Who says every girl needs to settle down right away? The drum beats are strong and rhythmic in this one. That leads off the beginning of the album. Right into the title track High Heels and Heavy Things. Such a melodic song. The dobro in the instrumentals gives it another unique layer to the sound.
Once track nine comes around, the emotions come spilling out. With her Beautiful voice and the heavenly piano skills of Eric Holljes (Delta Rae), this song tugs at the heartstrings. Telling that person that you want more than just being friends is a scary thing. I Don’t Want To Be Friends With You is that message full of love, longing and heartache. She sings this with a tenderness to her voice that isn’t found in most music today. Hurry Up And Heal joins in with the longing for that person she can’t have.
To contrast the emotional tracks, Carrie throws in songs like Money. Money is one of those songs that you can play driving down the open road in a convertible. It is all about having a good time and not being a slave to money. Brianna Sage joined Carrie on this one, creating powerful harmonies.
Adding to the depths on the record, the six-piece band Delta Rae joined her on Stand-Ins. This track comes with goosebumps. The backing vocals bring out something special in Carrie’s voice; a raw intensity that can get under your skin. When the bridge starts; the layers in this song begin to build. Backing vocals and harmony, building crescendo and strength in Carrie’s voice combine to explode in our ears.
If you’re looking for an empowerment song, then look no further than Good To Me. The melody in this song lends itself to swaying in the audience. While the music may not be hard hitting, the power lies in the lyrics. When she sings that “finally, I’m going to be good to me” it gives validation to the feeling of putting yourself first and following your dreams.
A few of the beginning tracks are slower and emotional. The album takes listeners on a journey. From heartbroken, to self-serving, to defiant, and everywhere in between. The highs and lows of life are portrayed in Carrie’s powerful and emotive voice.
Another interesting aspect of this album is the list of Executive Producers. Carrie uses the Patreon platform to connect with her fans. Since the pandemic has come and canceled any tour plans, the money raised from this went to help fund her album. Her Patrons, and fans, are credited as Executive producers on the album. That is a sweet bond her fans will have to this album.
CONNECT WITH CARRIE :
Written by Amanda Epstein :
Amanda is an avid music lover and supports independent artists in various genres. She writes for music publications in her spare time to share her love of music with the world, as well as learning to be a musician herself. She believes that music has to be experienced and not just heard.
INTERVIEW/EVENT : California Women's Music's Homebound Virtual Tour Allows Music To Thrive In Tough Time.
They say that “music heals,” and in this tough time, known as 2020, both music creators and fans are banning together to not only survive but thrive through the use of music to support the community and create awareness. The California Women’s Music (CWM) nonprofit organization is doing just that by hosting the Homebound Virtual Tour taking place Saturday October 17th from 4:00PM PDT. This is an online streaming, live concert, featuring an all female-led lineup for pandemic relief.
Founded in 2014, the California Women’s Music is a nonprofit organization focused on events- concerts, educational events, and festivals- to celebrate women in creative roles including music, art, literature, poetry, or even business in the Golden State. They also facilitate grant programs, to help others to pay it forward, and continue the work in the community.
While the pandemic has hit hard for everyone, there has been a significant impact on the entertainment industry. Not only have artists been detrimentally affected, but also sound engineers, lighting designers, stage hands, instrumental technicians, venue owners, waiters, and the list goes on and on. The Homebound Virtual Tour aims to bring awareness to this situation and raise money for independent artists and small businesses such as the Ivy Room. Though a free event, donations are accepted. 40% of all the proceeds will go towards this women owned and operated music venue, located in Albany, CA. The show will be broadcast by CWM on multiple platforms including Facebook LIVE, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitch.
The full lineup to be announced, the show will be headlined by Jackie Venson who describes herself as a “woman, a guitar, and the truth.” Starting as a classical pianist at Berklee College of Music, Venson switched to electric guitar and found a new found freedom in blues, soul, and R&B. Now touring, Vensons sound has been recognized for breaking down both gender and genre boundaries: “Hendrix-meets-Prince blues guitar and a panoply of synthesized voices and vibes, eagerly and fluidly passing through genres to never quite call one home. Genre-bending is à la mode today, but when orchestrated with her kind of finesse, it’s really the artist that becomes the genre” - Premier Guitar.
Check out the links below to watch the show. Be sure to take a look at California Women’s Music non-profit and follow them on social media to find out about upcoming events. Most of all, please continue to support all musicians in this time of need as well as women and girls everywhere- thank you to music for giving the voice to support and love each other.
Watch Homebound Virtual Tour here
Additionally, the concert will multi-stream on @CWMNP Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch. Find out more about California Women’s Music on their website.
Written by Krystal King
Krystal King is a Carolina country singer-songwriter currently working out of Nashville, TN. In addition to her work as an artist, Krystal is also a board certified Music Therapist and is passionate about using her talents to help others, specifically in the field of mental health. Check out her debut music video “Slow Love” and give her a follow on social media. Instagram |Facebook
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