George Michael: A Tribute – The Songs That Shaped Me

Like many of you, over the last few years I have seen the musical icons who influenced me the most tragically pass away. If you’re of a certain age, and especially if you are a singer or value incredible singers & songwriters as I do, the deaths of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston will have impacted you. In 2016 this has been followed by the loss of David Bowie, Prince, and most recently George Michael. For me all have felt a huge loss, each accompanied with the nostalgia of my earliest musical loves, despite the rich bodies of work they leave behind them.

However, none of these untimely passing’s has impacted me quite as much as that of George Michael. At first, I wasn’t sure why I felt the immense sadness I have in these last few days. Arguably I was a less engaged fan of Michael than others; for example, I never managed to see him play live, though this was very much one of my future hopes. But then I realised George Michael was far more omnipresent throughout my life – he featured heavily at every individual stage of my musical education. I admired different parts of his work at different (and very influential) times, though not necessarily in a chronological order.

An introduction

One of my earliest, clear memories of his music was the release of ‘Too Funky’ in 1992 – it was a constant on MTV and soundtracked an entire family holiday that Summer. I thought the video, which featured many of the key supermodels of that time though almost no Michael, was unbelievably glamourous whilst not taking itself seriously at all. To my 10 year old self that’s exactly what pop music should be about.

Subsequently, my teens were filled with George Michael – with my love of dance music developing at the time, for me highlights included singles Fastlove and Outside. To me, the latter is one of the most important statements a popstar has made, and the evident sense of humour (and perspective) he had never overshadowed the quality of his songwriting. When a song turns into a chart hit or dancefloor mainstay, it can be easy to write it off as being flippant or lesser quality. But with George Michael his lyrics (often melancholy, always pointed) and his vocal performances (world class) ensured it was impossible not to take him seriously as an Artist.

Tour bus staple

This was evident even in his earliest years if you listen to ‘Everything She Wants’. At over six minutes long it’s a brilliant disco record but with a contrastingly dark tale of a dysfunctional relationship. Released in 1984 by Wham! as a double A-side with ‘Last Christmas’ I didn’t come to this til much later in life when, in my first professional Artist Management role, an act I worked with played this as a tour-bus staple.  At the time, I had landed my dream job and as a result this song will forever remind me of the most formative, and perhaps happiest time, of my career.

He was also one of the few Artists myself and my jazz musician Dad could agree on, once he released his album of classic covers ‘Songs From The Last Century’ which showed off just how accomplished a singer he was. And more so, just how classy a singer he was – it always remained on the right side of pop, and was full of soul and jazz inflections. He had a clean, clear, controlled voice with a beautiful tone, and he made it look effortless. I can still remember my entire singing class trying to emulate him on his version of ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’. For many in our vocalist network I don’t doubt that he will have been a large part of your vocal education also.

Thank you

Each of these periods were of huge influence to me and, crucially, to the existence of the AR Vocal Agency. He is undoubtedly one of the singers & songwriters who made me want to work so closely with Artists, and for this reason alone I wanted to pay tribute to him here – I, and many of you vocalists working in the commercial music industry, owe him so much.

Introducing The Vocalist Network

2016 has been a year of huge transition at the AR Vocal Agency. Mostly, we have been thinking about how to best serve the incredible network of talented vocalists and topline writers we have built up.

AR receives so many questions from our vocalists about how to move forward in their careers, and it is a source of frustration that we haven’t had a platform to address these. Until today.

I have set up a private Facebook group called ‘The Vocalist Network’ and would love you to join us there!

The main purpose of this group is to offer a free source of advice and information for vocalists & topline writers, which you can apply to your own music career. It is also a great support network of fellow vocalists.

What you can expect from the group

Every Wednesday we will be holding a live seminar on topics such as how to secure backing and session vocal work, collaborating with music producers, topline writing tips, and how to market and promote yourself as an artist. Our hope is that this will help you to better self-manage your own career, especially as many of you work independently.

Support & Advice

In addition, The Vocalist Network will allow you to ‘crowdsource’ tips and help from your peers – offering the support of likeminded artists. Who better to answer the questions and understand the challenges you face than those who are on a similar path?

Join

Our aim is to make the AR Vocal Agency the most valuable resource for vocalists and topline writers working within the commercial music industry. Join us there now and help us do so!

Vocals We Love – Autumn 2016

We wanted to take the opportunity to share some toplines, vocal performances and vocal production/edits we have been loving recently. In no particular order, the below list have all been on the AR Vocal Agency office stereo on rotation in recent weeks and we hope they provide some inspiration whether you are a topline writer, vocalist or producer.

Robyn – Main Thing (Mr. Tophat Remix)

Emelí Sandé – Hurts

Becky Hill – Warm

Sasha – Track 10

Nao – Happy (Live)

Lady Gaga & Florence Welch – Hey Girl

Fono – Feet On The Ground

Kaytranada featuring Craig David – Got It Good

Disclosure featuring Kwabs – Willing & Able (Live)

The Golden Boy – Good To You (vocalist Jasmine Knight – one of our own!)

Which vocals have you been listening to recently? Let us know over at our Facebook page now.

Introducing featured artist Jasmine Knight

Introducing featured artist Jasmine Knight

 

Please be introduced to emerging artist Jasmine Knight, who joins the AR Vocal Agency’s Featured Artist roster.

From South London, Jasmine’s passion for the underground sounds runs deep, heavily influencing her style. A player in the UK underground Drum & Bass scene since her teens, Jasmine learnt her craft writing and featuring on countless Drum & Bass and Garage tracks, and performing at events such as United, BSTK and Noisy Neighbours Festivals. Jasmine has also been a regular performer at raves across the country, and through this has gradually spread her roots into the House scene. It is this culmination of experiences that have shaped Jasmine’s solo style into a delicate balance of the underground influences and darker lyrics she loves, but with a knack for writing hooks worthy of the mainstream chart.

With a fierce sound, and equally fierce look, Jasmine’s solo material is currently in development, working with a range of established producers.

In the meantime she is much in demand for collaborations across a variety of genres, thanks in large to her hard hitting delivery. Within just a month of joining the AR Vocal Agency, Jasmine’s vocals can be heard on the newest track from house producer The Golden BoyGood To You’. Released on Love & Other last Friday, and supported by Danny Howard, TCTS, Friend Within, Redondo & many more.

You can listen to the track here now.

You can hear more from Jasmine here.

The AR Vocal Agency exclusively represents Jasmine Knight worldwide – for any enquiries regarding collaborations please contact us directly.

 

AR Vocal Agency provides vocal for The Golden Boy’s new single

OUT NOW: With support from Danny Howard, Friend Within, Redondo,TCTS & more, The Golden Boy‘s new track ‘Good To You’ released today on Love & Other.

Proud to have provided the vocal on this track, performed by Jasmine Knight (Singer/Songwriter), you can download it here:

http://smarturl.it/GOODTOYOU

 

The Golden Boy’s ‘Good To You’ premieres on Eton Messy

Proud to have provided the vocal for the new track by The Golden Boy ‘Good To You’, out on Love & Other this Friday!

Thank you to Eton Messy for featuring – check it out on their channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LwUsczWeeM

Joell Fender from our Featured Artist roster performs live SIGMA

Congratulations to Joell Fender of our Featured Artist roster for stepping in to perform lead live vocals for SIGMA at Key103 Manchester, and Liverpool International Music Festival.

If you are an Artist or DJ looking for live lead or backing vocalists please contact us via the website (link on page).

Anna Russell speaks at Point Blank

Thank you to Point Blank electronic music school for having AR Vocal Agency founder Anna Russell last week, talking about the working process between producers and vocalists/topline writers.

Anna will be returning to Point Blank, London as guest speaker, this Friday the 24th of June at 4pm, for all music business students interested in attending.

OUT NOW – Soulful Vocals 3

Producers – our latest vocal sample pack, produced in partnership with Sample Magic, is out now! We’re proud to present the third instalment of our Soulful Vocals series.

Drawing on R&B, soul and predominantly house influences, the pack contains a collection of full-song royalty-free vocal construction kits packed with verses, choruses, bridges, ad-libs and double-tracked stems ideal for use in house, nu-disco or pop productions.

In total, there are 310 files across 10 full-song kits packed with verses, chorus, harmonies, bridges, double-tracked stems and ad libs. Each kit is key-labeled (a variety of keys are included across the pack) and tempo-sycned at 120bpm for total production ease.

As always all kit stems are presented free from additional FX processing  – beyond subtle EQ and compression – in order to give you total creative freedom in your own tracks.

Served at 120bpm, these vocal tracks are prefect for use in almost any electronic music genre, from deep house and nu-disco through to pop, electronica and beyond.

You can purchase this pack here.

To see our full range of vocal sample packs please visit the ‘Sample Pack’ section of the AR Vocal Agency page.

Listen to AR’s favourite vocal tracks on BLOOP Radio

Back in February AR founder Anna Russell was a guest on D.Ramirez‘s show for BLOOP Radio, Northern Exposure.

Anna brought in several of her personal favourite vocal electronic/dance tracks, both past and present, to play and talked about the AR Vocal Agency.

Featuring tracks by Simian Mobile Disco, Riton & many more, you can listen again here.

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