Here are some highlights of meaningful experiences in the making of Freedom Pulse. I hope you enjoy discovering more about me and the story behind my music.
What inspired Freedom Pulse?
Sometime during my music studies at college, I began to have reoccurring dreams where I would see my hand flying up and down the fingerboard and hear sounds coming out from my cello that I had never made. I would wake up with this feeling of freedom and vitality that I wanted that same feeling in real life. Once I had the taste of freedom on my cello in my dreams, it changed my whole approach to music forever.
So, I started treating the cello as if it was a guitar, a drum set, an electric bass, and to emulate some of the great rock and jazz soloists that I looked up to. Like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Miles Davis, and Jean-Luc Ponty. I kept chasing that taste of freedom.
I started with touring and recording in collaborative projects. But, eventually, I had to focus on my own sound. I knew that part of finding my own voice was to find a regular gig as a solo artist. So, I went through a rigorous audition process and won a position performing at the Atlanta airport. I was beside myself to play my own original music but I wasn’t too sure how I felt about sharing music in the airport environment.
Initially, I thought of it as a sterile and often hectic environment; but, soon I felt the airport as a place of connections. When people took the time to stop and listen, I got to connect with people and those people to each other. It was a magical place of discovery and freedom for me interacting with so many people and forming lasting relationships. Playing there became one of my most fulfilling ways to touch people with music and ultimately led to the making of Freedom Pulse.
How did the airport exactly lead to recording the album?
When I reflect on the answer, I have goosebumps.
I ended up recording on the same piano bench that Aretha Franklin had graced years before at the historic FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL because of meeting my mentor and music industry veteran, Bill Mayne, at the airport. Concourse D, as in David, to be specific.
After some time into our mentor/mentee relationship, Bill connected me with FAME studio owner, Rodney Hall, and he listened to my demo tracks. Rodney said something to the effect of, “Well, your sound is interesting.” And then he paused. “I’ve not heard anything quite like it before, AND I don’t know where it belongs commercially: but if you can get down here, we can make a recording.” I was beside myself and I just about flew through the ceiling. I said, YES! YES!.
Long before that phone call, I had first heard of FAME when my boyfriend, David, told me he’d watched a documentary about FAME and the Muscle Shoals sound. He shared with me how moving the story and music was and that he thought I would also be moved. About a month later, I met Bill!
A few months later I had a meeting with long time colleague and mixing/mastering engineer, Donn Aaron, to discuss a home studio set up for the film score I was composing at the time; and, Donn shared how he had recently had an amazing experience at a studio, (yes, you guessed it!) called FAME (goosebumps!) and that he could really picture me recording there! Then, to top it all off, I am lucky enough to have Donn be the mixing/mastering engineer for “Freedom Pulse”.
I don’t believe in coincidences; so, I really wanted to honor the experience I was being gifted with to make this album.
Recording at FAME was a dream come true, the energy at the studios is extraordinary because of the long line of top musicians that have recorded there and all the iconic music that has been created at FAME. There is a tangible feeling in the air, and even a smell, that all leads to the right environment to capture ‘magic’.
I approached the recording with trust that all would be as it should be in the studio. Even though I had recorded demos for all the songs and planned out every track before the session, I picked the songs that spoke to me as the right songs while I was in the energy at the studio. The song “Freedom Pulse” spoke to me the loudest.
“Freedom Pulse” is inspired by the energy I feel performing for the travelers. First of all, I’m playing at the world’s busiest airport with more than 250,000 people flowing through each day. Secondly, it’s an international airport and Atlanta is an international city with people from all walks of life. So, there are a lot of people and they are diverse, to say the least!
This flow of people is almost like a march, and the march feels like a pulse as if in veins. It’s the veins of our human connection. I see that regardless of who we are, we can all get caught inside our ideas of who we should be, how we should live, what we should achieve, etc., etc. felt this musical motive of a march for “Freedom Pulse“ and then a primal cry coming out from my cello saying “Break out! Release your inner Steppenwolf!” The inseparable quality of our joy and sorrow, of our spiritual and animal, is what I believe leads us to be able to experience what it is to be alive. Music is the celebration of being alive.
There is a beautiful quote that resonates with me in Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet: “And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?”
If I was to sum up the experiences that led to the making of the album, I feel as if I am the lute that was carved out by the knife and now I get to sing.
Everything about music is human connection; so, I offer Freedom Pulse to you as a celebration of all our connections.