This one starts many years ago when I was wee and my grandad used to wheel me roon
Kelvingrove park to play on the swings & the chute by An Clachan café.
( though in those days ~ it used to be a public lavy ! ) Now it just does great food instead !
40 yrs later ~ I find myself a million miles outside my comfort zone and maybe that’s no bad thing.
When I first heard the Edwin Hawkins singers original version of ‘ I heard the voice of Jesus say ’ the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and they still do today. Their singing carried me through many situations in life and now I find myself re-writing it with more universal language. I love playing this song on the piano and my intention was to keep all the good stuff from the original and let a new song describe a sense of freedom that is not about any particular beliefs . . . just everyday life as a human being and the common ground between us all.
I am inviting individuals and choirs to sing together in Kelvingrove Park on Sun June 9th.
I hope to record the whole thing and see what I have in the can when it is all done and dusted.
I want it to be as simple and acoustic as possible ~ without Generator noise and big PA stuff. So. . . I am hoping to have ‘ Pedalove ‘ provide the power. They do events in Italy and all over the place and have invented wee machines put together from bicycle parts that can generate a decent wattage of electricity, enough to run a couple of mics and a keyboard . . . if I can’t get a real piano in the park on the day ! I found a french engineering student who has made a prototype ‘ Boombox ‘ that has a surprising volume and only runs on a car battery ~ so he will be providing the PA speaker.
I am talking with the SAE to see if they will make it a live recording project for some of their students.
This whole thing is really an experiment and just the first step in a wider process of writing and recording an album of songs on the theme of meeting the voice of freedom within ourselves
I am not talking about Mel Gibson in Blue war paint and dodgy Scottish accents. I am talking about a simple, unromantic more universal, common sense of freedom, available to us all
yet not so easy to carry lightly in the midst of life’s ups and downs.
I am directing people to a website dedicated to this event and everything that will follow it this year.
There are songs and lyrics to download and links to more info and music. I have tried to make it easier for anyone to find the melody line or harmony part that best suits their voice and so there
are individual 4 part harmony Mp3 files to download and practice with over the next few weeks.
One of the things I hoped this event would do was help bring a wider audience to Liz Scott’s music.
Liz will be leading everyone in one of her original Scottish Chants ‘ Flick of my Eyelash ‘
an extraordinary piece of music ~ both uplifting and grounding in the same breath.
This whole thing started with another song entirely that has been stewing in me for a fair while really. A response to Oscar Peterson and Billy Taylor, who both died in the last 10 years.
‘ Now I know how it feels to be free ‘ echoes Oscar’s ‘ Hymn to Freedom ‘ & Billy’s ‘ I wish I knew …’
I learnt to play ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’ when I was 12 and still love playing it today. I saw Jools Holland playing it on the ‘ Tube ‘ and knew I had to learn that song though I did not know it even had lyrics back then. I just knew it as the theme tune to ‘ Film 82 ‘ on the telly.
Many moons later I heard Oscar Peterson play in the Glasgow Jazz Festival and discovered his recording of ‘ Hymn to Freedom ‘. The story goes that while recording ‘ his album ‘ Night Train ‘
Oscar was encouraged by his producer to come up with something ‘a bit more Gospel’ . . .
so he thought back to all the songs he had soaked up as a boy and this tune came out of him.
When he was done the producer said he had to call it ‘ Hymn to Freedom ‘. Only a few years later Billy Taylor wrote ‘ I wish I knew . . . ‘ with some very similar chord changes. If you play both songs back to back they flow right into each other real well. Both songs were taken up as anthems by the civil rights movement in America.
I had always recognized the sense of hope within both songs and yet still found myself needing and wanting something else . . . more certainty maybe ~ in the face of some situations that seemed totally hopeless and unable to be resolved in any substantial way. So ~ I found myself writing a response to their tunes while sitting having a hot chocolate outside An Clachan Cafe.
Then, from nowhere in particular really, I felt drawn to do something in the Park with many choirs and individuals all singing in the sunshine ( perhaps this last element was a bit of a stretch ! )
You never know . . we might have a summer yet this June . .
I reckon it is not really ‘ my idea ‘ as such to gather many choirs together to sing outside. It just seems like a good thing to do ~ and a fair number of folk seem to agree with me. Though it is proving
to be more than a small headache coordinating it all. Well worth the hassle though.
I also thought it would be fun to have a real piano in the park too and attempt to bring all this together just to sing some great songs in the sunshine with a load of people.
This thing has grown quickly in the last few weeks and things are falling into place at a good moment.
Eurydice, led by Kirstie McCabe, will be singing ‘ the Freedom Come-All-Ye ‘ by Hamish Henderson. A beautifully unromantic vision of Scotland.
Matthew Todd will be conducting everyone for ‘ the Voice of Freedom ‘ and hopefully be also lead us in ‘ the Dark Island ‘. Liz Scott will lead everyone in her chant and I hope that some other choirs attending will share a song or two. I am close to confirming that we will also be joined by a number of Zimbabwean singers who simply have a wonderful quality in their voices that I was hoping to find.
I reckon I will leave it there.
I am not seeking personal publicity . . just wanting to take the next steps in bringing this music
to the world in the best quality form I can ~ and invite people to sing in the open while I am at it.
Music and singing are things that always helps me come to my senses to find myself just breathing
and smiling . . .for no good reason. Those are always the best moments in life and I will be just as curious as anyone else to hear how this all turns out on the 9th.
If you show up in the park I look forward to hearing your voice.
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