Just saw an advertisement by a local bank, with the headline "Wealth - blah, blah, blah.
Well here's to real wealth: Shelby and Linda Stephenson recently completed their album - a tribute to the great North Carolina songwriter, Don Gibson. Great songs, sung with feeling and beautifully recorded. A work of art. Art is wealth - beyond dollars and sense. Here, there are fine renditions of Gibson's classic hits such as "I Can't Stop Loving You," (a huge hit for Ray Charles) and "Oh, Lonesome Me." These songs, along with lesser known Gibson gems like "Give Myself a Party," and "There's a Big Wheel" make this album a special treat. Shelby Stephenson's voice captures the essence in time and expressive feeling of these songs. Call it "white soul."
Neville Beamer recently recorded a collection of his original songs. They are earthy songs - lyrical, and sung in his raw inimitable, gutsy style. One of my favorites called "The May Fly," is about the creature that lives for only twenty-four hours. The song is as much about an insect as it is about all of uswho live this brief life here on earth. Neville has that creativity flowing.
Two years ago I recorded my first album project (other than my own) in my studio, Outback. Rick Smith's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes," is a retrospective album that harkens to songs that stand-out in the timeline of his life. Rick took chances with this album. Ranging from folk to blues to country and to standards, he covered many styles - a risky prospect for any singer. He naturally excels at the standards, with exemplary versions of Sinatra's "One For My Baby," and Irving Berlin's, "Let's Face the Music and Dance" as a boss nova. But his renditions of Leonard Cohen's "Bernadette," and Peter, Paul and Mary's, "There is a Ship," are equally as poignant. Perhaps most exceptional is his version of "I Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight," from Lerner and Lowe's broadway smash,"Camelot." Complete with full orchestration, one is transformed by Rick Smith's inspiring and rousing interpretation of King Arthur's trepidation on the eve of his wedding.
My second major recording project was the duo, "Dust and Ashes" - Tom Page and Mary Lou Troutman. Their album, "Songs We Believe In," is a compilation of faith-based songs by various writers as well as a few of their own creation. Tom and Mary Lou are wonderful singers. Their version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" will send chills down your spine. Tom Page's original songs, "The Stone In My Hand," and his tribute to songwriter John Stewart, "Song For John," are both lyrical and moving.
I felt myself singing along to Mary Lou Troutman's upbeat song, "Looking For God." All of the songs are beyond good. They have a message, but the message is beautifully rendered without being too preachy.
Stephen Smith has been in the studio recording some poems and original songsHis song, "In Jail in Whispering Pines," is great fun.
So we come full-circle. Creative people doing what they love and sharing it with others. It has been my great pleasure to work with these fine artists.
Here's to real wealth.
Visit: www.ShelbyStephenson.com to view his Don Gibson album and others. Find Rick Smith at cdbaby.com, or on iTunes. Dust and Ashes can be found at: www.vizion.com/daa/. Neville Beamer has not yet released his album, but we certainly look forward to that event. Stephen Smith writes for Pinestraw and O'Henry magazines, and has a new novel soon to be published.
Outback Studio is located in Pinehurst. tel. 910-420-8580