HOME OF THE BRAVE.
Quietly nestled in the unseen, in-between spaces of fear and hope, lives in you what is Brave. Awaiting patiently, yet aroused– till alas, it receives the command of your call. Awakened, its inner baton comes alive to lead the charge. Sounding the trumpet of your brazen roar, wooing you into a heroic courtship of fearless rendezvous's...a once embattled dance, becomes brave sweet victories won.
#Reel Backdrop Story:
("Down With This")
Written & Produced By:
Charisse Arrington | Foster Bradley | Todd Cheek
Since a child, I was always coming up with all kinds of writings. This included various poems and song ideas. But, for sure, there was something ubiquitously different about this cool melodic libation that showed up on the screen of my mind.
I tell you true, there was just something about recording in my Brooklyn, NY., apartment's bathroom that set the scene and activated musical ideas to come alive inside of me. At least in part, I am sure it was because the acoustics sounded heavenly good in there. So, any and everything I musically wrote...I wrote in my bathroom.
Strangely enough, it happened one day while taking a shower. As the warmth of the water's rain beaded down upon me, it began to hit the bathtub's bottom. Suddenly, an interesting, rhythmic bah-da-da kind of beat began to catch my attention. So I started playing around with it, ad-libbing over the beat. But then the idea started to sound really cool and its melody began to form solid mental shape.
Not wanting my memory to drop the ball on being able to recall this finger-pop vibe, I had to get my idea down on my hand-held tape recorder and I mean like fast. Frenzied and soaking wet, I jumped out of the shower. Shoeless, almost breaking a body part, I slipped and slid across my apartment's bare hard wood floors.
Hurriedly, I made a mad dash to locate my recording device. As I did, on repeat, I kept humming the melody that now took over the the wheel of my senses, holding me as its captive. Desperately, I tossed items about as I scoured the area for where I had left my voice recorder. Yes, thank you lord...found it! Moving with quickness, I managed to get the 'melodical' seeds of what I was now pumping in my head down.
As I continued humming, babbled lyrics began rising to the surface traveling from my head, formulating out of my mouth into the creation of words. I heard my mouth repeating this one line 'Down With This' over and over, until at last, the chorus of its lyrics were born.
But before this ever happened, I had responded to a NY music help wanted ad via two guys looking for singer/songwriter. I was living in Brooklyn at the time, but decided to make a trek out to the Bronx to meet them. This would be the beginning phase of cultivating a new music writing relationship with a dynamic duo of talented music producers.
In our meeting we swapped playing and listening to a bunch of our individual songs. I could immediately tell we would be a great fit. They decided that they wanted me to write and offered me to be part of their team. They then asked me to pick out 4-5 songs I wanted to begin writing. They had a whole entire catalog of songs that needed to be vocally written. Though, initially, they just wanted me to write their tracks. So I picked out the tracks I felt most resonant. Yet, out of all the tracks I heard (and many were a songwriters dream)...there was this one track that upon contact really perked up my ears. Totally ecstatic, into the acoustic lab of my bathroom I went. At the time, that's where I would write all my songs. Locking myself away, loaded with pen, an arsenal of paper, and in-home recording machine, I was excited to lay my music creative ideas down.
My ideas flooded my mind like a big bang and didn't stop pouring until they had completely emptied me out and unfolded the song's message. At last, there I stood with finished masterpiece in hand. I was seriously devoid of sleep and had passed through a two day fast without even entertaining a meal. Since I did all my work in the bathroom...well, I had that part of my bodily needs covered. If I had been a dude, I surely would have had a 5 o'clock shadow due to my having been so lost in time, I didn't even realize that two days had gone by. Wow, what a ride, what a ride! But you know, it didn't even matter because I was on 10 and in a creative zone captivating. Undoubtedly, I knew without fail...I had just written a song worthy of garnering big industry attention.
Upon finishing, I wasted no time speed dialing up my production partners. I was delirious with excitement, putting my phone up to the speaker, I said,"Hey guys, listen to this." I then proceeded to blast my recorded song idea over the tellie. I had some excellent Bose speakers so the idea translated very well. I exaggerate not, when I tell you, after hearing what I had come up with those guys, in record time, made a beeline, zooming straight over to my place.
As I waited for them, I called up a trusted and dear friend, who had been my former manager to have her take a listen. As the final note played out, with huge excitement in her voice, she said, "Charisse, gurrrl this a HIT!" And because this friend doesn't usually get high cliff excited about many things, I knew this too was a good sign.
Once my producer partners arrived at my spot, they sat down on my couch. With a smile on my face, I again played the newly written song. Inside of me ran this anxious, yet exhilarating feeling. No one spoke as the song played. Once the song came to an end, we all looked at each other with a struck gold amazement in our eyes. For what seemed like long seconds immersed in feelings of shock, I think we realized something in our moments had just changed. We kept confirming, saying to the other..."Oh my God, this is a hit right?"
"Down With This," was now off to the races, growing arms, legs and feet – readying to birth itself into the world. Ultimately, the song bloomed the fullness of its savory flavor, by way of cool mixing labs and the dope studios of New York City.
Of course, there is much more to this story. Because as we know, in life, stories rarely unfold without some kind of twist and turns. And trust me...this one surely did.
In knowing that I've already disrespected the code of brevity (lol), I will conclude by saying...indeed, there were many record companies who were "Down With This," and vied for the attention of procuring it on their major label rosters.
I will always be grateful for the vibe of my Brooklyn, New York apartment (uh actually bathroom lol). The place where I penned and birthed into musical expression"DWT"...my first charted music soul-child ❤️
Dreams really do come true ... but only if you believe they do!
Press Play To Hear Charisse's "Down With This" Full Song
Press Play To Hear Charisse's "Ain't No Way" Full Song
#Reel Backdrop Story:
("Ain't No Way")
Written By: Carolyn Franklin
Produced By Charisse Arrington | Kiyama Griffin
Additional Vocal Arrangement By: Charisse Arrington
ODE TO ARETHA FRANKLIN - PERSONAL TRIBUTE STORY
(ALL HAIL THE QUEEN 👑):
"R.I.P. Queen Aretha Franklin... Though your presence has now ascended, your essence and all which your voice touched shall forever be cherished to remain. A beautiful angel, you now fly free. Queen, may you sing your sweet beatitudes, that all eternity may continue to marvel and enjoy!" 🙏🏿❤️💋
A SONG IS BORN: 🖊
My former record company, MCA (Universal) had wanted me to think about remaking a cover to debut on my first album. Aretha Franklin’s, “Ain’t No Way,” (written by her sister, C. Franklin) would be my bold choice. ☕
Admittedly, I felt ultra nervous knowing that I would be recording one of the 'Queen Of Soul's' classics. Because of all my jitters, I broke with tradition and didn't even allow anyone to come with me to the recording studio when I laid down my lead vocals to the track. No, not even my manager or the producer of the track.☕
On a late night music session in Brooklyn, NY. this song would birth its musical creation. Standing behind a lone mic, my heart raced with beats of nervous anticipation. With only the sound engineer there to take my vocal order, I was enveloped by the dark starkness of a quiet, dimly lit recording booth. Candles burned in the background helping to set a tone of ease for my mood. As I prepared, off kicked my shoes. Releasing deep exhales of calming breaths I mentally steadied myself. Giving my engineer a nod of green light, I watched his fingers from the other side of the glass cue its countdown. And 188.8.131.52. Go. Daring to take the vocal plunge, I dove in.☕
It took a couple of runs before my energy settled. My recording and mixing engineer was mad cool, encouraging and patient with me the entire time as I worked out the flow of my creative. Finally, I got down what I thought to be a good reference vocal = (demo). My plans were to go back into the studio and lay down my ‘for real’ completed vocals after I got all the instruments and backing vocals tracked. But ironically, what I considered to be just a guide lead track, turned out to be the recorded vibe my record company, personal manager, and engineer all loved! Initially, I wasn't quite sold and still wanted to record all the lead vocals over again. Some of 'We' artist can tend to be (shall I say) overzealous like. At times, due to our being such perfectionist, we can also be reluctant to listen. So glad, in this case, I did not attempt to do more surgery on my vocal track and left good enough alone (lol). I often smile when reflecting back on how the events of that vocal session unfolded; especially in knowing how it ended up becoming my single...one that MCA would distribute out into the world.☕
BEST PART OF STORY...
Before the release of my record, it just so happened that one day, while hanging out at the offices of team MCA...one of my record company folks waved me into their office. They told me to say hello to some person on the other end of the phone. As I did, a warm voice reached out to grab me with its hello. Yep, you guessed it! The person was none other than – Queen Aretha herself!
I seem to remember my wishing her a happy birthday. Though our conversation, was brief, it was one that has blessed my heart for all eternity.
Queen Aretha congratulated me on being a new solo artist and gave me her thumbs up approval for what she said was a job well done on my rendition and arrangement of her masterpiece.☕ I tell ya, as chocolate brown as I am, the compliment caused me to feel beet red in the face special. Flashing across my cheeks, was a wide smile that I am sure remained frozen there for weeks to follow.😱☕
My rendition of her "Ain't No Way" song (I am happy to say) went on to chart on the Billboard Top 100. Indeed, such music matters are no easy feat to accomplish. My gratitude continues to spill out and carry over to this day (Thank you team MCA)😀☕
While I am quite realizing that we are all destined to leave this realm, still, not once did I ever think when I recorded “Ain’t No Way,” I would someday be writing the words I am reflectively penning now. Ms. Franklin was such a musical staple in my world. Her passing has caused me to behold the experience of recording her "Ain't No Way" cover differently now. While no one can sing or stir the soul to the amazing heights which Ms. Franklin embodied; still, I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to record a true Aretha Franklin
classic. Kind of makes me feel like I did something highly honoring...a memory that will now live as my tribute to her, on the music's pages of love everlasting.☕
R.I.Pardise QUEEN ARETHA. Forever and a Day Shall You Always Be !!! 👑