Well this year started off with a bang! My first gig of the year was with Darren Hayman singing the Chants for Socialists at Union Chapel in London. Despite the fact that it was FREEZING, the place was packed and Daylight Music reported their highest audience turn out ever! The whole event was amazing and the feedback has been wonderful! Definitely one to tick off the bucket list.
As you can see from the photo below, I was the shortest singer by far (and I’m very proud of that) and I think wearing a bright electric blue jumper may have been a mistake… cue the Smurf! Feel free to ridicule me about this, to be fair, my family already has; it was my daughter who noticed my fashion faux pas. It gets worse though, there are lots and lots of press photos of this event, so I will be immortalised forever as the singing Smurf…
The beginning of February saw us perform the Chants at the William Morris Society in Hammersmith. A much warmer gig this time and smaller too and actually in one of William Morris’ houses which was exciting. There was an intimate audience of about 40 people as opposed to 650 at Union Chapel. There was a Q and A session afterwards which contained some hilarious and some what mysterious questions about the project.
We were described as Leonard Cohen and the 5 Linda Rondstadts which let’s face it, is much better than being described as a singing Smurf. This photo was taken during our rehearsal hence why we’re all stood in our coats with cups of tea, however I think a mug could become the new performance accessory depending on it’s contents!
I’ve been very excited about the vinyl version of the album (which I sang on); I’m mainly excited about the COLOUR! You can find the album on Darren’s website.
So if I started the year with a bang, how on earth am I going to top it? I’ve know idea, but watch this space… In the words of Saint Yazz “The Only Way Is Up”.
I’m giving away “If That’s The Way” for FREE! You can download it here…
I’ve got a brand new promo video for the Sirens and Other Mysteries tour in the Autumn of this year! Check it out!
Thanks to Andrew Tregoning (Media Director) and Charlotte Atkinson (Actress).
We did it! We totally smashed the Kickstarter target! I would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has pledged over the last 60 days! You’ve made my day! I’ve had an overwhelming response to the new EP and will be sending out lots of orders in the few weeks, so hold tight for your order – it’s on the way! I’m still gathering pledges by cheque and cash so will inform you all of the final target soon.
As I’m currently 29 weeks pregnant, we’re going to film the video next year. This is partly because a) I don’t want to be massive in the videos! and b) it gives us time to work on the concepts, scripts and find locations etc. I will keep you all posted of our progress and once the video is ready I will post it everywhere for you all to see.
Once again THANK YOU and enjoy your CDs!
I often get asked about the stories behind the songs I write. Some of the songs are about my personal experience or based on the experience of others. I’m a real “people watcher” and I like to observe people about their everyday lives and that’s why you’ll see me in cafes a lot! This particular blog is a story that concerns my own experiences. Last year was a rough year for my husband and I; he was made redundant for the fourth time in five years and I had a miscarriage at the same time as this. It seemed like everything was going wrong, our finances and home were under threat again and the second baby we had longed for was gone. It all felt out of our control. A few weeks after the miscarriage, I went up to see my producer Andy Baker at Resound Media to discuss and look at new songs for an EP. We looked through the collection I had written and found five that worked really well together but we needed a sixth and nothing else from my collection seemed to fit. Andy suggested that we write something new together and he was aware of the situation that me and my husband we’re in. He asked me if I could describe the way I was feeling in one sentence, to which I replied “if that’s the way that it has to be” and so a song was born. One of things that I’ve learned over the years is that all experiences work for our good if we allow ourselves to learn from them or except that something might not be for us. I was very with angry with God over what had happened but resigned myself to the fact that he might have better plans than mine and although I didn’t know what they might be yet I still had to trust him. And this is reflected in the song lyrics “you see far beyond where I stand, and how it all fits in your plan”. I can’t say it was an easy song to write and poor Andy had to sit with me crying through most of our session! But it has yielded a song of my own experience that may be able to help others. I’m happy to report that I’m now twenty six weeks pregnant with another baby and that my husband has sorted out his job situation. It’s been a long road and has not been easy and there are still days when I worry that it’s going to happen all again, but that’s the challenge of faith, taking things one day at a time. You can hear the song “If That’s The Way” at www.reverbnation.com/helensandersonwhite
Check out my video!
It’s been an incredible musical journey for me over the last ten years. I’ve written, recorded, collaborated and taught – and as we move into 2013, the time is right for something new! Last year I returned to the studio with Sound Consultancy, the team behind artists like the Daughters of Davis and Philippa Hanna. The result is ‘Sirens and other Mysteries’, a brand-new six-track EP released this coming April. The team have really pushed me forwards, and helped me create what I believe is my best collection of songs yet!
BUT THE JOURNEY DOESN’T STOP THERE…
… Now we need to share these songs with the world, and that’s where you come in! I need your help to produce a music and promotional video that will carry an uplifting and inspirational message to a whole new audience: These are songs about life, faith and hope. I believe that God has called me to create music that is honest, open and realistic so that other people know that they are not alone in their struggles and successes. By branching out into visual media, we can help more people engage with music, life’s difficult questions and, of course, the Gospel.
In return for your pledges, I’m offering a whole range of rewards. As well as copies of my previous releases At Second Glance and The Sanctus Project, I am also offering vocal materclasses and your chance to appear in one of the videos. Remember, if we don’t reach our target we don’t get a penny. Any funds are greatly appreciated, so join us and help inspire, challenge and encourage through music!
A songwriting crime… I’ve been re-evaluating a lot of my songwriting and creativity techniques recently, trying to push the boat out a little bit more. It’s true; you only get the best out of your skills if you develop them and keep the process fresh. Here are ten crimes that I’ve learnt can hinder the songwriting journey:
Crime 1: It’s a crime to rhyme. That is, unnecessary rhyming. I thought I’d try using this technique more in my work but it has backfired spectacularly as the rhymes have been cheesy and crude. Only use rhyming if you are ultra confident!
Crime 2: Not getting a second opinion. Always get a colleague, musician, friend or mentor to listen to your work. Another point of view can help you develop a song or help you see where the weak spots are. Make sure it is someone who is supportive of your work and that you trust implicitly.
Crime 3: A lack of ideas is the road to nowhere. Make sure you are as creative with lyrics as possible. Don’t explain an idea using one set phrase; try using as many adjectives, similes and metaphors as possible. The English language is one of the most descriptive in the world. Get a thesaurus and go for it. It will help stop the song from becoming boring.
Crime 4: Write in haste, repent at leisure. Don’t rush a song, try living with it for a few weeks or so before you unleash it on the unsuspecting public. This way will know if it is a song that really works as you will have had a chance to sing it through many times. Rushing can lead to mistakes and you don’t want to release that into the world.
Crime 5: The key is stuck in the lock. That’s right you’re stuck in the same key and all your songs sound the same. If this happens there are two things you can do to get out of the rut: firstly transpose the song into a different key signature. For example, if I’m in C major, I go up a tone to D major and try singing the song in that key to see if it works. Secondly, in your practise time find some cover songs to learn in a variety of different keys. This will help you to broaden your music theory knowledge and become more confident with challenging key signatures.
Crime 6: I haven’t got a clue. You know that feeling when you start writing a song, and you get to the chorus and you suddenly realise that you don’t actually know what you’re singing about. That’s the time to focus on one topic; try describing the song topic in one sentence. If you’ve got more than one sentence you might have too many ideas.
Crime 7: I’ve just written a well known song. We’ve all done it, written a fantastic song and then realised that it sounds exactly like a song you’ve just heard on the radio. Don’t panic, we’ve all done this, so you’re not alone. The song can salvaged, it just needs some lyric rewrites and some new chord progressions. As one of my university music lecturers once said “there’s nothing new in music”. Do remember though that plagiarism is illegal!
Crime 8: Screeching and growling. The song is either too low or high for you to sing. As before trying changing the key until you find a suitable one for your vocal range. We all have a particular area of the voice where we sound fantastic – so find your “golden” spot. Karen Carpenter was known for her tenor vocals but she actually had a large vocal range and could sing very high. When challenged as to why she only sang her hit songs in the lower range she replied “the money’s in the basement”.
Crime 9: Not crossing the bridge over troubled waters. I’m lazy, I hate writing bridges because it involves having to think of a new aspect to a song. However, if your song needs some oomph or it just isn’t long enough try adding a bridge. You can bring in some new musical and lyrical ideas here.
Crime 10: The sock drawer should only contain socks. Sing your songs; don’t leave them at the bottom of the drawer where no-one can hear them. They are your gift to the world. Your song might help, uplift, console someone; or help them to see their situation in a new light. A song that is never sung is a crime…
But hey, don’t take my word for it. You could probably add a few of your own crimes to this last too. Creativity is a muscle, keep on flexing it!