Music: My Songs
I performed here in Hong Kong last week. Here is one of the songs.
上個星期要表演。現在可以在 YouTube 看看其中一首歌。
I'm the spokesman for a wedding theme holiday resort in Dong Guan 東莞婚紗城. They had a special 100-couple wedding event on the weekend and I of course as spokesman performed. My wife videoed the performance. Here is part of it. I hope you like it.
If you can't see the embedded video, then click here instead: Gregory 河國榮 唱「為妳鍾情」
Last week was busy; well not quite, but still interesting anyway. In addition to the interview with Alyson at RTHK Radio 3, I also talked with Shirley 曾淑儀 and Lu from the 「萬王之王」 King of Kings show on RTHK Radio 2.
When Shirley heard about my singing studies in L.A., she liked the idea of interviewing me but wanted to make it special. What she came up with was really fun. 「洋人中文歌」 is a three-part series; approximately fifteen minutes per part; with yours truly teaching (we're truly stretching the meaning of this word) listeners to sing ;-) Shirley and Lu were wonderful and lots of fun. I think you'll enjoy the series.
The series will begin tomorrow; Thursday, November 16, 2006. I'm not sure of the exact time of my interview but the King of Kings show runs from 5pm to 7pm (i.e., UTC 9.00am), Monday to Friday. The second and third parts will be broadcast next Thursday (November 23) and the Thursday after that (November 30) respectively.
Interesting and perhaps confusing; I don't really sing very much Chinese during the interviews, but we explain that later on in the series. And for all of you who care, I promise to sing more Cantonese in the future.
I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed recording it with Shirley and Lu.
It was Peisha's idea. Almost from the beginning of our time together, Peisha strongly recommended that I have a 'product' to take home with me. She meant that I should record a couple of songs, if only to show the folks at home just how much I had improved.
I wasn't totally sold on the idea at first. It was the potential financial cost of doing the recordings that kept me from committing to the idea, but as time went on, as my voice continued to improve, and as I discovered more and more songs that I loved, I grew more attracted to the idea. After three weeks of being with Peisha, I made the decision to record the songs. It's a decision that I'll never regret, and I'll forever be grateful to Peisha for her encouragement and insistence that I do the recordings.
Peisha knows people. That shouldn't come as a surprise. She has been in the music community for many years, and she's a highly respected member. Many of the people that she knows are very talented, and so I could only be optimistic when she chose someone to record my voice and arrange the music. His name was Chris Hardin.
Chris is probably as busy as Peisha. Most exceptionally talented people tend to be busy most of the time. They're always in demand. Chris' schedule was tight but we found a slot of time that we could spend with him after one of my lessons with Peisha. Unfortunately, half way through my lesson with Peisha, it was quite obvious that I was far too tired to go to a recording studio. Without questioning me in any way, and quite aware of the reality of the situation, Peisha called Chris and we were fortunately able to organise another session time.
Remember how I said that those few extra days that I stayed in L.A. turned out to be invaluable? Now you know why.
Our first session with Chris was on Monday, the day after I had originally planned to leave L.A. Monday was a great time slot because it allowed me to rest my voice over the weekend. I did a little warmup with Peisha at her studio and we then drove over to Chris' home studio.
On the evening of Monday the 20th of October, we recorded my first song: "This is the Moment". We recorded this song first because we knew it was going to be the hardest vocally. By the time I had sung through it four or five times in Chris' studio, I was worn out. It's a very tough song to sing with lots of high sustained notes, but, it turned out fine.
In the studio, Chris recorded a very basic piano background while following the sheet music. I then recorded my voice to that background.
On Tuesday, Peisha and I went back and recorded two more songs: "For Once in My Life" and another that I'll keep as a surprise for you. With "For Once in My Life", Chris again recorded a basic piano background to which I recorded my voice. He added many of the other instruments while we were there. It was incredible to watch him work. His musical talent is amazing. And I think he was really enjoying himself arranging that song. He was obviously having fun with it which made it fun for us too.
The third song was a little different. I recorded my voice first, roughly, without music, so that Chris could hear it and analyse the chords. That's because I didn't have any sheet music for the song, and I didn't want him to hear the original so that he would have to create something new. Chris then listened to my voice recording and in real time wrote down the chords on a sheet of lyrics that I had printed for him. In real time! The man is astonishing. What else can I say? Chris then used the chords to play a basic piano background for me to which I then recorded the final voice.
Over the next week, Chris added instruments and finalised the arrangements for each the songs.
… … …
One week after returning to Hong Kong, I received mp3 versions of the songs in my email. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I have now listened to them so many times that I've lost count. My wife said that the songs were simply 「百聽不厭」. They're understandably already on her iPod.
Peisha was so right in insisting that I record the songs. Without the songs, I might have gradually over time forgotten what I had learnt in L.A., but the songs have shown me what I can do and they've given me renewed confidence and enthusiasm, something I desperately needed. These songs are without doubt one of the many miracles in my life.
Now it's your turn. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Links to the three songs are listed below. The last song is a surprise. It's also one of my all-time favourites. Even Peisha and Chris loved it. Once you've heard the song, you'll understand why that's so special.
Song 1: This is the Moment from the stage musical Jekyl and Hyde, written by Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn.
Song 2: For Once in My Life written by Stevie Wonder
Song 3: Should I? (a surprise ;-)
My next am730 article is just about finished. Part 1 was published a week ago and Part 2 should be published next week. I'll post the full article here after am730 has published it.
This am730 article mentions a teacher I had the fortune to meet while studying at The Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles last year. Her name was Elizabeth and we had a wonderful time together. One of the songs I sang during class that she particularly liked was "The Nearness of You", a wonderful song published way back in 1937. I'm going to record some of my songs and post them here on the blog and I thought this song would be a good start.
This song was recorded in September of 2004, just after returning from Los Angeles. Both the piano and voice are mine. With only three months of piano in my pocket, it was the beginning of a new life in music for me.
I hope you like it.
The Nearness of You as sung by Gregory Charles Rivers, September 2004.