image © The Retrospect 2004
music review and artist reflections
interview, review and HTML © Russell W Elliot 2004
images © Rebecca Gohn 2004
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Last updated: 26 November 2004
Rebecca Gohn is an emerging self-financed singer songwriter from southern New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia, committed to her dream of having hit record and someday winning a Grammy. Recognized in her locale for expressive live piano accompanied performances, she found the recording her debut album a significant growth experience that enhanced her professionalism through feedback obtained during the recording process. Read more about her background, musical influences and the making of her album in our interview. Our review of Recollections follows below.
Musical Discoveries: Will you please expand on your musical training and education. Tell us in your own words how you got into music.
Rebecca Gohn: I was pretty much born with an instinctual fondness for singing. I still remember my mother telling me that in second grade a teacher commented to her that I needed to stop singing during class! Seeing my natural tendency towards music, my parents got me onto piano lessons at a very early age.
At this point, I have about twelve years of classical piano study and about the same amount of voice study behind me. In elementary school, high school and college, I performed in musical theatre, a capella groups, festivals, competitions, chorus groups, recitals, and bands. I was ranked #1 in district chorus in my senior year of high school and I've sung the national anthem at various events including a Penn State basket ball game.
I began writing my own compositions around the age of eleven. It wasn't until the last few years, however, that I've really explored my songwriting ability. The song "Lottery," the third track on Recollections, is a resurrection of a melody I wrote when I was twelve. It continues to be one of my personal favorites.
Can you tell us about how you hooked up with Denise O'Brien and Andy Fox and what it as been like working with them?
A few years back after having written several songs, I was ready to try them out in public. I started frequenting opens mics and trying them out. From there, I made connections with several talented musicians including Andy Fox and Denise O'Brien. Not before long I found out that Andy and Denise had a recording studio in their home and did a lot of CD projects for local independent artists such as myself.
Andy and Denise were able to give me a lot of guidance not only with the music itself, but how the whole process works from recording, production, mastering, and duplication. Andy even did the art arrangement for my CD. One of the things that led me to want to work with Andy and Denise was the comfort and ease I felt with them. We had a wonderful chemistry which was invaluable during the entire process.
What artists do you think have influenced your work?
It's difficult to narrow down the list of artists that have been an influence to my work but there are a few artists that come directly to mind: Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt and Shawn Colvin.
Please tell us about the making of your album.
After devoting myself to writing for about two years and frequenting open mics, I had started to build up a small fan base and a lot of people were asking me if I had a CD. At this point I had about twenty songs, was performing regularly and thought the next appropriate step was to record a CD. During that time I had made a lot of contacts and knew of several recording studios in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area and was simply looking for the right fit.
As an independent artist backing myself financially, it was especially important that I find the right match for my finances as well as my musical objectives. A fellow artist, Erik Balkey, whom I had performed with at several shows, was just finishing an album with Andy and Denise and recommended them to me. I spoke with them a few times about my ideas and the scope of the project and we decided to give it a go.
I worked strictly with Andy and Denise on the recording of this album. It took a little over a year from start to finish. Since I work as a full-time accountant for a Fortune 100 company, I had to squeeze in the recording of this album in my spare time.) I performed all the piano tracks, lead and harmony vocals. We laid down all the piano tracks first and then went back and layered over the vocals.
How were the vocals put down?
The vocals were all recorded in Andy and Deniseís closet in their apartment. As we recorded each song the three of us would sit and chat about other ideas for the song. After our brain storming sessions we would try different things out to see what worked and what didn't--harmonies, guitar, other instrumentation, changes in arrangement etc.
The experience was very rewarding. The recording process really opens your eyes to your potential as well as areas where you need improving. I would say I definitely came out at the other end as a better musician.
How has the publicity regarding your debut album affected your career thusfar?
The exposure I've gotten from this album has been huge in helping me take the next step in my music career. Prior to recording I found it difficult to get bookings at new venues because no one knew who I was and hadn't heard my music. Having this album has been key in getting my foot in the door at new places.
How do you describe the style of your music?
I would describe my music as easy listening pop with a folk influence portrayed by smooth flowing vocals, graceful piano melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. Although much of my new material is in a similar vein to the songs on Recollections, I've also been learning some blues and jazz covers and have started intertwining them into my live performances and writing style. For my next release you should expect much of the same sounds as before with some blues textures blended in here and there.
How do the audiences react to your live performances and on-stage persona?
I usually get a very warm response from the audiences I perform for. Many people come up to me after performances and tell me how moved they are by my music and what a confident delivery and stage presence I have.
How would you describe the influences to your songwriting and vocal style?
Songwriters that influence me are ones who can articulate feelings and emotions through their music and lyrics, conveying tales of life and love with simple clarity. Shawn Colvin and Joni Mitchell come to mind. Singers that inspire me are ones that have expressive and dynamic vocals that can adapt easily to different material and shift from raw sensuality to upbeat playfulness. Three singers that possess these qualities as well as my admiration are Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald and Bette Midler.
From what do you draw inspiration for the music and the lyrics?
Lyrics and music often come to me during the normal day to day of things and are largely inspired by people and situations whether personal to me or more wide-ranging. "I wonder where you are now" and "I still think of you" are about a friend of mine. "Count the stars" is a reflection back on my childhood and was inspired by my mother. The night of the September 11th attacks I wrote the song "Miracles can be like dreams."
How do you think your album has impacted the public's interest in your music?
Although my album has had a huge impact on my music career, my live performances are still the primary driver in gaining public notoriety of my music. Of course, as I said before, my CD has opened a lot doors for new live performances, so I think it goes without saying that both elements, the live and recorded versions of my music are equally important to the overall recipe!
What are your interests outside of music?
With my full-time accounting job and my musical endeavors it isn't easy finding time for other interests. But so as not to leaving you hanging, I'll indulge your question! I am extremely fond of crafts especially jewelry making and scrap-booking. As a side note, I'd like to design and fashion handbags since collecting them is one of my favorite fixations. Right now I'm sporting a brown leather hand bag with a depiction of Audrey Hepburn--one of my favorite actresses--on either side complemented by decorative beading. I also enjoy cooking and baking. I always look forward to the holidays during this time of the year because I get to make cookies, pies and other goodies!
How do you think the internet has influenced your musical career?
The internet is one of the best things to happen for independent musicians and it's been a crucial tool for my career. Anyone in the world who has access to the internet can purchase my CD. That's kind of amazing when you think about it. As an independent, one of the things I've been faced with is the issue of distribution. Well, the internet has greatly simplified that detail. Because of the internet, I've sold CDs to people all over the world including the US, Hawaii, the UK and Japan.
The internet is also an invaluable source in getting your name out there. Anyone who has access to the internet can view my website which provides all the information a potential fan would need to learn about me and my music.
What are your musical hopes, plans and dreams?
Like many other artists, my ultimate dream would include something like a few top-ten hits and a grammy. If you're going to dream, you might as well dream big! But letís face it, there are a lot of obstacles and unknowns in the music business and a huge element of luck. With that said, it is my plan to simply take one step at a time regardless of whether or not that road leads to the top of the mountain. During the course, it is my hope to always keep a positive outlook, be persistent, and strive to be the best artist and person I can be.
Rebecca Gohn's Recollections (Rebecca Gohn (USA) RGOHN5104, 2002) is a twelve track collection of piano-accompanied ballads. Rebecca's sweet and tender voice carries the melody atop piano accompaniment on each of the tracks. The album's opening number "I Wonder Where You Are Now" is the album standout, with layers of Rebecca's vocals adding texture especially in the heartfelt choruses. "It's A Tragedy" continues to explore the singer's range and demonstrates power, especially in the vocalise that accompanies her piano playing. "Lottery" is tremendously reminscent of a tune from the 1970s performed by Bread. Rebecca's harmony vocal layers add a lovely texture.
"One More Second," "Is It All In Her Mind," and "A Dream" continues to explore the artist's ability to weave stories into heartfelt ballads. "Silent Recollection" is delivered more emotionally than several of the tracks that preceed it. "What Made Me Fall For You" is presented at an even slower tempo and has required Rebecca to sing more powerfully and with even more emotion. It must be wonderful to see performed live.
The CD continues with "Unspoken Words," another evocative ballad presented much in the style of many of the album's tracks while "Count The Stars" is somewhat more upbeat. "I Still Think Of You" moves on a bit further with Rebecca reaching for range and power above the piano. The album concludes with the lovely "Miracles Can Be Like Dreams." The additional reverb on her voice and keyboard washes allude to what could be done with additional production in future releases.
This album is a nice introduction to Rebecca Gohn's sweet voice and lovely piano playing. The material however is not highly varied and does get samey rather quickly. More varied stylings and richer arrangements would permit the artist to further express her virtuousity. We are encouraged to hear that she is working on a new album and look forward to its future release.
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