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Monday, September 10, 2012

Giveaway 15: A Voice Worth Listening To

by Seattle Jon (bio)

My taste in music is mixed. For example, I have Lord of the Rings, Yo-Yo Ma, 80's Radio and Hip-Hop channels on Pandora that all get regular rotation. That being said, I am not a seeker of music outside the mainstream, so tracks that get radio play are usually more interesting to me.

Danielle Vaughn is an exception. I knew her personally - through the ward - before she caught my attention by singing Deep Voices at my wife's birthday party. Give it a listen (and/or listen to other tracks) then check out my interview with Danielle below. Finally, if you purchase her CD be sure to leave a comment on this post and Danielle will generously choose two of you to receive another CD to share with family and friends at no cost. The giveaway will close Sunday, September 16th at midnight.

album artwork by Frida Clements Design

Q: Can you tell us about your background in music?

I studied piano and sang in choirs while growing up. My auntie put me in lessons real young because I was constantly playing her organ and sounding out tunes. I mostly played by ear and faked it. I have some dyslexia, so note reading was super tricky for me. (I wasn't aware I had dyslexia until later in college)

I went on to study piano performance with a performing scholarship in college. I had to work really hard at note reading. I'm still not a fabulous sight reader, Chopin about killed me, but I've since found ways to navigate around reading. That's where the guitar comes in handy. Guitar and songwriting came later when I needed something more accessible for folk and bluegrass tunes. I was getting asked to sing with country and bluegrass bands, so I learned the guitar to help fill in the sound.

Q: How are you bringing music into your children's lives?

We listen to all sorts of music/genres/artists. From Americana and Folk to Pop and Techno, lots of Jazz and Classical, as well as some old school country. Good music transcends classifications, so I try to keep the kids open-minded and expose them to all kinds of artists and styles.

One of my favorite things to do is analyze a song lyric with them. We'll listen through and get a feel for it, then go back, listen again, and try to figure out what the song is saying through the lyrics. It's important to me that the kids know what the music is saying. Plus, it opens their ears to the language of poetry.

Q: How has music influenced your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Music is quite possibly the most powerful influence as far as how I've felt the spirit, especially when I was younger. The hymns are amazing! I have many favorites for different times and experiences in my life. For instance, "How Firm a Foundation" really comforted me when I found out my son was diagnosed with a life threatening heart condition. We weren't sure he was going to make it, he was hospitalized for five months, went through three major surgeries, and the prognosis was touch and go through most of his hospital stay. My testimony went through a series of faith/doubt/questioning/pondering/comfort/and reassurance - the words to that hymn would pop into my mind regularly, and I'd feel peace again. It was both simple and profound at the time. Whenever we sing that song as a congregation, it reminds me of the Lord's mindfulness and love for me and how He helps us get through difficult times.

Q: Did you write the lyrics and music for your album?

Yes, I wrote the lyrics to every song but La Vie En Rose, the last track on the album (someone else wrote it, I paid the royalty fees to the songwriters guild to have the song on my album because it's a classic and I've always loved it). I don't write every note down for recording. For jazz and rock and blues, it's more fun to work with awesome players - musicians who are super accomplished at their instrument - and let them do what they do on the fly based on what they're hearing in their own heads. That's the beauty of it, the creative charge that keeps musicians hooked on songwriting and forming bands. It's pure magic when you find players who resonate with what you're hearing in your own head, which is what happened for me with this album. In the studio, I showed up with lyric/melody/chord charts, I played my songs for the core unit of my band, we jammed for about 15 minutes, worked out intros/endings, then started recording. We were all together in the same room during the recording process and I sang the whole album live, no overdubbing. (Yeah!) It was pretty magical.

Q: If you formed a band to tour with, would you consider putting Seattle Jon on keyboards? What about a band mascot?

So funny! For sure! I'm in the process of finding some awesome players to gig with right now - if you're interested, most definitely audition!

(off the record conversation)
Seattle Jon: The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Danielle: Not good.
Seattle Jon: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Danielle: I'd say more like one out of a million.
[pause] Seattle Jon: So you're telling me there's a chance.

I can always use more cowbell too (Seattle Jon: I could do cowbell), if keyboards don't work out. As far as mascot goes, I'm thinking along the lines of Sasquatch ... yeah.

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