How did YMAATA (You, Me, and All of the Above) come to be, you ask?
Well, it started shortly after I received an invitation from the National Women’s Music Festival, a wonderful invitation, to emcee both the opening and closing concerts of the 40th annual Festival, to be held July 2-5 in Middleton Wisconsin (by Madison), returning as the Founder. I answered, “I wouldn’t miss it!” and quickly cleared my calendar!
Then my sweet daughter pointed out that it was time I released a new CD – it had been 9 years! and I immediately thought of Lynn Keller, magnificent friend and talented musical resource for 4 of my past 6 albums…playing flute, bass, singing, and more! Lynn and I met at the U of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where she was a flute major. Lynn and I, and our friend Cherry Wolfarth, started an all-women’s rock band so there would be some rock ‘n’ roll at the 3rd National Women’s Music Festival (1976). Ms. Conception was a “power trio” and Lynn tried out her first bass guitar on indefinite loan. It didn’t take long for Lynn to go from the upper registers of flute down to the lower depths of a bass, and that’s what she’s mastered to the present day. Lynn said to me, “The bass is still where my heart is – of all the music I do, that’s where I feel the most truly myself.” And once you hear her bass parts, you will see exactly why. Soulful, funky, lyrical – she’s got it all.
I asked if Lynn would produce a new album for me – between her gigs in musical theatre and being on tour with big artists (Diana Ross, Rita Coolidge, and countless others). First she said no, and then she reconsidered – lucky me! So, planning her Chicago stay carefully, she and I sorted through my material and themes, came up with a “baker’s dozen” of strong song choices, and she got to work writing charts and assembling her team. All of this was with the clear deadline of having the CD in hand before July 2!
And, by god-and-by-goddess, we did it! Lynn’s professional level of commitment to the project involved interviewing a number of studios before settling on the fantastic Lakeside Media (captained by Victor Sanders, resident genius), carefully choosing the finest musicians and vocalists from her vast rolodex files (top flight musicians with hundreds of studio and live accolades, including the pedal steel player for Springsteen and the guitarist for Gloria Estefan), and working out rehearsal dates and recording, mixing and mastering dates from a baffling array of schedules. Lynn brought in her dear friend Susan Draus, who arranges songs and conducts singers for Broadway and off-Broadway shows, and Susan created vocal arrangements for several of my songs that make you say, “I’ve got to see the rest of this musical!” That’s especially true for the Amelia Earhart song, “Because There’s a Sky,” and my two “Chicago” songs – you’ll hear soon enough!
My songs have always ranged over a very wide landscape of styles, and this album only takes them further. Besides the creative and tight arrangements, using many acoustic instruments, Lynn’s bass parts were picture perfect. Victor said at one point, “I’ve never seen a bass player that you don’t need to ask to do anything over – you just get it all right on the first take.”
I feel like “the luckiest girl in the world” (as it were!) that Lynn produced You, Me, and All of the Above. and the result is something really special! I miss having her here, but she’ll be coming to town for the Chicago CD release concert and party at Old Town School of Folk Music on Sunday, Aug. 16, 7 pm. I can’t wait to introduce both the CD, the songs, and Lynn, to all of you!
The picture here shows me holding the poster, which has now arrived!