It has been a while........
We have been working behind the scenes trying to find singers, musicians, at one point, a full orchestra for the Oldie Composer recordings of the Top 4 songs.
Lessons have been learned along the way, and there have been some highs and lows.
In my naivety, I ask for things, that are just not possible, like asking a full orchestra to give up a day and find an arranger for each instrument.
It took me about 3 weeks to realise that it was just not going to happen.
I did however have a lovely chat with @elshanson who
immediately offered to help again...2 years ago Bond had been superb in helping us with
the wonderful recording of “All you need is love" for BBC Children in Need - which has now had nearly half a million views” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBsXOKvi3Ss
The fabulous bass player @simonlittle is another friend we have made through recording BANDAGED, and has supported us with everything we have done, including the Young songwriters competition 2 years ago.
So over the next month, AD Chivers our fantastically enthusiastic producer phoned, cajoled, persuaded and possibly begged a whole host of musicians to help us out.
While this was happening, I was having trouble finding a top London studio, Abbey Road, Air, British Grove, were all fully booked for months, but luckily BBCMaida Vale had two days available in May.
Of course it was not two days together, but two days about a week apart, but BBCMaida Vale studio MV3, the home of BBC Radio 2live music, that was pretty exciting for us and our songwriters.
The songwriters were duly contacted, dates whizzed backwards and forwards between AD and musicians but we were still trying to get singers.....
I had been chatting via email with Laura at Barnardo’s when she suggested we looked at a boy band who had helped them in the past. So off I went to YouTube and found them(FTW) there.
They were just about to release a single and they sounded good, so I asked Laura to ask them if they would come to London to record “Loves Forever”.
To our delight they agreed........
The boys travelled down from Manchester and with very little notice, had to learn the song, the harmonies etc
They were really nice young men, with a true passion for helping Barnardo’s and great voices.
Trevor and Paul (the songwriters) were such lovely people, They worked with the boys, with Paul singing parts of the song showing where he feels the emphasis should be, you could tell they were really enjoying themselves.
The fabulous Nick Masoncame along and played the drums on this track and there were quite a few people in awe of the Pink Floyd legend.
I knew AD had plans for this song and would be adding strings etc later.
Now "Cry" is a beautiful song, which the songwriter Marina Florance sings beautifully and we were strongly toying with the idea of Marina singing it herself, but in an interview on BBC Radio Norfolk, Marina said that she would love someone else to record her song.
I wracked my brains and emailed and tweeted a few people, but suddenly remembered the very strong and emotive voice of Anthony Head. Anthony recorded a lovely version of “Turn the world around” for us on BANDAGED Together.
I asked AD if he would ask Anthony. To our utter delight he said he loved the song and would love to record it. He even changed his schedule around to enable him to come to Maida Vale on the 16th.
What a true gentleman and he took the song and made it his own.
AD added a choir and some strings from the fabulous quartet Bond, guitar by Marcus Bonfanti and Grant Windsor on the Steinway.
Again AD will take this awayto work on it and and I can’t wait for the final version.
Things took a turn then..... we went back to our TOG chums house in Putney for the night before travelling back to Newport the next day.
That night, Norman started tohave pains and had to take his heart spray... we sat up for a fair few hours that night chatting and trying to stay calm.
The pain wore off, but we were unhappy. This issue is the latest in a long run, Norman’s troubles started well before I knew him, when he was 34 he had a heart attack,followed 6 years later by a triple heart bypass. That lasted for a good 17 years, but was obviously wearing out and we had been waiting for an appointment to have it looked at when his heart decided to accelerate things at the end of our New Year trip to the Highlands and he had a mild heart attack, but we ended up in the capable hands of a great cardiac surgeon in Inverness, and he fitted a stent which sorted it out and we returned south with Norman on the mend, and he had 10 to 12 great weeks of improvement and increasing exercise. Then the pain suddenly returned and was getting worse as time went on and our battle with the Health Service for an appointment was quite frustrating. After the Putney episode we decided to take it head on, and if the locum GP hadn’t decided he should be admitted, we would likely have done it ourselves and turned up on the A&E doorstep. His belief that things were definitely not right were not being taken completely seriously, but the doc who saw him when he came in seemed to be saying he had a chronic condition but it wasn’t an emergency situation, however she looked quite apologetic when the blood tests confirmed he had had another mild heart attack and was admitted to Coronary Care! Frustratingly the angiogram lab was broken, waiting for a part from Germany and the possibility of a Friday angiogram came and went very disappointingly! He was in the right place though and in the hands of some very lovely and capable nursing staff.
It was very difficult for me, coming late into Norman’s life, and not knowing anyone with a heart condition. There were times, when we were first together when I didn’t want to let him out of my sight. His family had been telling me that his bypass should start running out. I didn’t really know what that meant, and spent quite a while thinking any minute now he would just collapse. I have learnt over the last 7 years, a little bit more about things, but the last 3/4 months have been a very quick and fairly steep learning curve.
By Sunday, Norman was fairly stable, but I really didn’t want to leave him and go to London. Having spoken to his nurse and him, they both said I had to go to London for the next recording day.
I had previously invited a TOG along to the recording and phoned her and asked her how she felt about a crash course in photography and filming. Bids was up for it although a little apprehensive.
So off I went, I jumped in the car at 7am after texting Norm to see that he had been pain free all night.
I stopped at M&S on the motorway to grab sandwiches and treats for the musicians and headed to Maida Vale studio.
Thank goodness for TOMTOM , is all I can say because there were a few diversions because of the marathon, but I got there, just as our new drummer and accordion player were arriving.
The atmosphere around all these wonderful talented musicians is electric but there is an awful lot of laughter and they are very welcoming of an numbskull like myself.
Those who knew asked after Norm and I had to say, please don’t be nice to me, or I will crumble. So we carried on with the laughter and the wonderful music.
"Peace for the child", was the song to be recorded first with Clare Teal due to record the song, but not available that day, Maggie (the songwriter) sang it with the musicians and liased with AD about the song.
There was a very exciting bit for me when AD had been chatting to Steve the drummer and suddenly everything went up and notch...... changing the whole song.
Again the very talented Els Hanson played some beautiful violin on this track along with Squeeze (that’s what all the muso’s called him) playing some interesting accordion.
The last people to arrive when I was there, were John Mackfall, (the songwriter of Requiem for a Soldier) and the soprano Andrea Ryder.
I had a quick chat with them and explained that I had to get back to Newport and my Norman as I was starting to feel very far away from him.
My lovely friend Bids had been shadowing me most of the day and we had a few lessons on video technique and she was good to go.
Luckily for me, AD had brought another photographer/videor in as back up and he helped Bids enormously, and even took over with our HD cameras for the close up shots.
On the MondayNorman had his angiogram and the new blockage cleared, a second stent fittedand is back on the road to recovery, and I am delighted to say, I have him home today looking well with more colour than he has had for a while.
I met Bids at the station yesterday to collect the cameras and we chatted over the evenings performance and filming.
Bids tells me that the full strings, with conductor HuwWhite, weresimply superb and she felt so priviledged to have been part of it.
Having described it all to me, I can’t wait to see the videos and listen to the final four songs.
Release date will be 11th June at the BBC club. All four songs will be available for download and we hope that the radio stations all over the country will love the songs and play them incessantly.
The more the songs get played, the more people will download them, the more money will to go Barnardo’s.
And let’s not forget, all this is very exciting for the songwriters, giving them an experience they thought had passed them by, but the whole project was devised by us to raise awareness of Barnardo’s and help them help the most disadvantaged children in this country.
I feel so very touched by all the people who have helped us, the battle is still very much on, it is an uphill struggle to help so many children have a life and have something to live for.
In the meantime, I am counting my blessings every day that the love of my life is on the mend and beside me fighting all the way to make this a better world for all.
If you want to get in touch with me to help with promoting what we are doing I can be found on twitter @hellenbach or Norman is @bignormski1 or you can email me Hellen@charitygoods.com
Thank you x