The Women of "Duets - Woman 2 Woman"
Over the course of 2 years, I was privileged to spend time working and recording with 8 amazing women to create my new CD, Duets -- Woman 2 Woman -- Conversations With Wise Women In My Life.
The CD was just released not quite 2 weeks ago, and I'm thrilled to share its treasures with you, namely, the women of Duets: (clockwise from top right) Georgia Engel, Jan Horvath, Margaret Imrie, Gwen Eagleton, Margaret Dorn, Emily Bindiger, Cynthia Clawson, Jenny Burton)
I am going to begin the story of this CD by posting here my summary conclusion of the CD's digital liner notes found in the free downloadable digibook.
Final Words - Julia (from the Duets Digi-book)
I’m not sure if I can truly summarize the huge outpouring of creativity in this CD project with just a few short paragraphs, but I’ll give it my best shot!
Starting from the very first conceptual conversations with Peter, this album was three years in the making. But we count it two, since the first actual sessions began two years ago. From day one we dreamed, talked, and Peter wrote. Then we moved into casting: thinking about so many, many wonderful women singers in our lives -- and knowing that we’d not be able, logistically, to work with ALL of them! Then came organizing schedules with these very busy artists, not to mention what to sing once the Ladies of this CD were able to commit. Next came the work of learning, preparing and rehearsing these songs!
This recording process continued to evolve as each singer stepped on board: Peter and I would meet with each lady. In that meeting, we’d talk together and Peter would gather and solidify his thoughts on what to write and how to write specifically for the pair of us.
Then he would disappear down into the studio. When he was ready, he would present the music and lyrics to each of us. He would talk with each of us individually. We singers would go off alone to learn and rehearse our parts.
Next, Peter would schedule a rehearsal for us together, where the singer either came to NYC or Summit, or we went to her wherever she was. Sometimes it was several rehearsals, sometimes it was just one. But in each case, the importance of these rehearsals was evident as each of the singers and I would rehearse together. We would get to know each other vocally, musically and emotionally. We’d work out phrases where we sang together in unison or harmony. Peter directed us and encouraged the actresses in us all to spill forth. We basically “grokked” each other in those intense and wonderful rehearsals.
After that, I would go into the studio and make a “scratch vocal.” This was a rehearsal recording. I sang each scratch based upon what I had learned from my partner singer.
My scratch vocal would then be sent to each singer. They would use the scratch vocal to sing with as they made their final preparations for the big day: The Recording Session. Each singer would then come in and record with me singing in their headphones. We were singing in duet!
When Peter finished recording a singer, he would create a rehearsal track of her voice for me. Now it was my turn to rehearse in duet with her.
Song by song, I recorded with each singer in my headphones, singing and responding to their vocal work -- just as they had done with me. Each recording session was a total immersion into an atmosphere, character and feeling. It was pure joy -- times ten!
So with joy, I include a note to each singer on this CD (starting clockwise from the top right of the album cover):
Georgia Engel, you have been my spiritual sister for years now. You have been a guide and a constantly supportive friend. I am honored to have had this chance to share some meals, some laughs, and consider some of the deep things of life together. Just try to imagine my excitement in getting work with you on this CD! Thank you Georgia!
Jan Horvath, I will never forget that we were sisters and friends long before we ever met. We lived in the same building for years. Sometimes people on the elevator would burst into an excited hello to me, thinking that I was YOU! And it turns out people sometimes thought that YOU were ME on the elevator! And then we met and became instant friends. Inevitably, we came together to sing “At The Heart Of It All.” Thanks, Sister-Friend.
Margaret Imrie passed on several years ago. When I first came to New York, Margaret was very kind and gracious to me, and I found that this was her nature and way with everyone who came across her path. I had the privilege of substitute soloing for her at her church a number of times in those days. Margaret’s was a voice that never got the full recognition it deserved. It’s my joy to be a small part of her recording experience on this duet. Thank you for your enduring gifts, Margaret.
Gwen Eagleton, when I first heard you sing a sacred song, I recognized in you a soul sister in music and expression. I was thrilled that you accepted the position of Co-Soloist right along side the lovely Rebecca Minor at The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston where I had served as Soloist as well. You and I share some wonderful deep roots from California to Boston to New York. It was totally natural to explore the allness of God together with you in song.
Margaret Dorn, you are truly my biggest big sister in music. You have influenced my music and me for many years now. You are present on most of my albums with your vocal arrangements, and your amazing voice. We have toured together, and you have brought me into many NYC sessions over the course of these years when you needed a more classical soprano. You always placed me with you on mic in these sessions, and there I learned from you -- standing but inches away from you, leaning in and morphing into your sound -- whatever was called for in the session. You made me calm and gave me not only strength but added to my skill set by your example. I love you, I thank you, and I honor you, Big Sis.
Emily Bindiger, you are one of my other big sisters in music. I have loved singing on every NYC session I’ve gotten to do with you over the years. Coming into your intense world of session singing is always a privilege, and always a ton of fun! Like Margaret, I have learned so much from you. And … I have laughed more because of your wonderful sense of humor and joy that you have always brought to these sessions. It was grand being hungry with you on this CD!
Cynthia Clawson, oh, can I gush, please? I have been your fan forever. Your “Hymn Singer” CD is probably my most favorite in your prolific catalogue of albums spanning several decades. It was a real dream come true to get to spend some time with you and to sing with you on this CD. Ever since the weekend we spent together singing our song, “Nothing’s Impossible,” I’ve often said to Peter, “Singing with Cynthia is like ‘coming to the mountain.’” Thank you for letting me sit at your feet, Wise Woman!
Jenny Burton, I cannot thank you enough, for this experience of singing together, united by a composer whose musical output for each of us is as diverse as it is immense. To quote a song on this album, musically, you and I “come from two different worlds.” And yet Peter Link brought us together in song, not once but twice. In “God Is Your Rock” I had the most fabulous time singing with you in your world. And in “A Walk In The Snow,” I will always be grateful for our collective understanding and grace in considering motherhood and specifically, our mothers. Thank you for your voice and incredible artistry.
Peter Link -- I love you, “Mr. Mom -- yes I do!” Thanks for bringing out the Woman in You -- she was always there, and I got to see her first-hand in those early years when you were Mr. Mom to your sweet son. But more universally, thank you for daring to bring this issue forward -- of the union and oneness of feminine and masculine qualities in each individual regardless of gender. Thank you for busting through stereotypes and speaking for all through your music and lyrics.
To each of the singers and to our producer, I tip my hat, I bow my head, and I throw kisses of gratitude to all of you.
To our listeners, I can only gratefully say, with my hands over my heart, “Thank you for listening.”