About

A little musical history

I can't remember a time when music wasn't a part of my life. In my earliest memories, I see my mom loading up the record player with 45's. She would play every kind of music and we would all sing along, wrong words and all.

When I was old enough, I started manning the record player myself (and to my mom’s dismay, load the 45 auto spindle capsule beyond it’s limit!), making my own “mix” tapes complete with DJ banter in between songs. Even at that age I was instantly attracted to female vocalists.

When I got older and started collecting music, I started listening to the way a song was put together. Of course, the singers and musicians always mattered, but there was another aspect that got my attention: the production. I started hearing the same music in different ways. Part of my brain would enjoy it like it usually did, while another part would be analyzing it. After a while, it was second nature to have figure out the chord progressions in my head.

 

My instrumental education started when I was around 4 years old. My mom offered to get piano lessons for my brother and me. I can still remember how my feet would dangle while sitting on the bench. My piano teach was hardcore! If we didn’t keep our hands nice and curved, she would get out this enormous sewing needle and keep it under our wrists while we played. Let’s just say that she didn’t have to remind me often!

In elementary school, I learned how to play guitar and clarinet and sang lead in a show. This started me in my band, orchestra and choir experience. I switched over to saxophone in junior high school and started jazz band. I continued playing jazz in high school and started a few new instruments: bassoon, flute and string bass.

There was one day in high school that stands out for me: I remember my band director was sitting at the piano playing some jazz, and he landed on a dissonant chord. He stared at me, his face mirroring the dissonance of the chord, his right shoulder raise up, waiting to relax when the notes resolved. I looked right at him and said “E7 #9”. All the tension dropped from his body, his hand fell off the keys while he continued to stare at me. “You know what chord that was without looking at the keys?”, he said. I replied that I did, wondering why he asked. After about 10 minutes of naming every note and chord he played, he told me that I had “perfect pitch”. I had never heard of that before and didn’t know that it was uncommon for people to hear exactly what notes were being played without a reference.

In college, I started taking composition lessons, voice lessons and arranging classes, adding oboe to the list of instruments I played. After it was suggested that I purchase my own bassoon (let’s just say that I didn’t see my future in “bassoon”), I decided to switch majors from Music Education to Music Theory and Composition with a concentration in Vocal Performance.

After college, I continued with music, working on local projects in the DC area. This brought me to the Winter Music Conference where I met a lot of nice people in the industry. One of them was Dwayne Alexander who worked for ASCAP. He loved my style and wanted me to write with some other writers in New York.

So, In the early part of 1993, I moved to New York. Dwayne had moved from ASCAP over to Polygram Publishing and continued to pair me up with different writers. Eventually, I had a developer publishing deal with Polygram all ready for contract, but there was a reorganization in the company and Dwayne was let go, along with all of his deals.

I started doing keyboard work and songwriting around town. I fell into a remixing project which started me along that path. That early part of my career culminated doing work directly for Phil Ramone. I did serval remixes for him. My favorite part of working for Phil was when we would meet to go over my mixes. He would listen all the way through, then go back to certain parts and ask me what chords I used and how I was able to go back into the key. We were two musicians talking craft. His label, N2K Encoded Music, was sold off to another company and many of the acts were dropped from the label. Some of my mixes were release on promotional pressings.

At that point, I took a break from music. It was hard finding enough work to pay for all my expenses, so I went to get a “real” job. I landed in a good position at a good company. I got to use my other talents with computers and have been very happy there.

in 2012, I received sad news that my friend Dwayne had been savagely killed. This upset me so much and I didn’t know how to settle my feelings. I decided to do a mix for him in the style that first attracted him to my sound, believing that his spirit would hear it. I really enjoyed working on it and was pleased with the outcome. After posting it online, I started receiving a lot of positive comments, which encouraged me to continue with another mix… and another mix...

Paul and Madonna

This time music was different for me. Since I wasn’t doing work for anyone specifically, I felt free to try whatever I wanted to do. I experimented and let my creativity take me where it wanted to go. I tried different styles of music to study different production techniques and found that I was learning more with each mix.

And in taking this new approach with my production along with the power of social media, I’ve been able to reach and connect with many of the people who I’ve always admired. I felt honored that my some of my idols took the time to listen to my work and even share it with their friends and followers. This meant so much to me.
I consider this part of my musical journey a more honest representation of who I am, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it!
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