Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Songs of Praise

Earlier in the year we got the call to record a few tracks for Songs of Praise. The line up was to be Kristyna Myles, Joy Ononokpono singing backing vocals and myself on guitar. Initially there was a bit of negotiation over which songs we would perform; we needed to find some tracks that would suite Kristynas soulful vocal style and also fit into the Songs of Praise criteria. We eventually settled on two Alison Krauss tracks- 'Down in the River to Pray' and 'A Living Prayer', plus one of Kristyna's songs 'Your Love'.

We went into the studio with Adam Speakman to record the tracks so that Songs of Praise could hear the songs in advance. Then the idea was that on the day of filming, Joy and I would mime over the tracks we had already recorded and Kristyna would sing live. 

In Alison Krauss's version of Down in the River to Pray, more and more backing vocals come in throughout the song and the texture gets thicker and thicker. In our version, we tried to vary the texture as much as possible, sometimes having a verse with no guitar, sometimes Joy just singing 'oooh's' and sometimes singing the words in harmony with Kristyna. Joy layered up a few harmonies to give the recording a richer texture like the original. In the end the Songs of Praise team decided it would be better to only have one harmony, as it looked too creepy to have more than one voice coming out of Joys mouth. In Kristyna's song 'Your Love' Kristyna played keys and I was able to play some slide guitar over the top. And in 'A Living Prayer' we changed the style of the original to make it a bit more bluesy, which suited Kristyna's voice better.

A few weeks after recording the songs in the studio we headed to Longton Methodist Central Hall in Stoke for the filming. As we arrived a congregation of pensioners dressed in a myriad of pastel shades were finishing off their hymns. Then it was our turn. 

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The setting was really atmospheric, as the three of us waited to perform in the huge hall on Saturday evening. The production team played our studio tracks over the speakers, and I mimed my heart out as 10 cameras swooped and glided around the hall. We repeated each song 6-10 times to make sure all the camera angles were covered. 

I spent a couple of hours before the filming practising miming to the tracks, so I could refresh my memory as to what I had played in the studio. I remember being pleased that I had done this as I sat in the Church; it was important to maintain concentration for a few hours of filming, and as I knew the tracks inside out it was easier to make sure my fingers were in the right place at the right time.

We filmed the show in June. The first song aired this Sunday, with the other two to feature later in the year and early next year. We weren't able to watch the first one as we were gigging at the same time, but watched a recording of it when we got home. It's strange watching yourself on the telly. 

You can watch our performance here


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    Songs of praise