Donna Lynne Champlin | Old Friends

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Old Friends

by Donna Lynne Champlin

This beautiful collection of songs showcases the grace and beauty in Donna Lynne's signature style. In the grand tradition of singers like Nancy Lamott, her voice casts a spell that stays in your heart and soul long after the album has finished.
Genre: Easy Listening: Ballads
Release Date: 

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1. Hard Times Come Again No More
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3:55 $0.99
2. Eiffel Tower
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5:04 $0.99
3. Smile
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2:22 $0.99
4. Only Hope
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3:50 $0.99
5. County Fair
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4:06 $0.99
6. Cry
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3:40 $0.99
7. Once Upon A December
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3:30 $0.99
8. Where've You Been?
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9. I Cried For Us
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3:32 $0.99
10. Still Hurting
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4:40 $0.99
11. When She Loved Me
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3:31 $0.99
12. From God's Arms To My Arms To Yours
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4:24 $0.99
13. When Eleanor Smiles
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14. When The End Comes
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15. The Parting Glass
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Broadway veteran Donna Lynne Champlin (Sweeney Todd, Billy Elliot: The Musical, By Jeeves)
has announced the track listing for her debut solo album, “Old Friends,” due December 1, 2009
from Parting Glass Productions. Produced and arranged by the singer-actress, the album is an
amalgamation of theatre and film songs, country tunes and pub songs, filtered through the
singer/songwriter influences of her life experiences.

Recorded over a six-week hiatus from Billy Elliot due to a fractured ankle, Donna Lynne took on the
daunting task of recording a solo album for $1,000, chronicling the warts-and-all creation of it on
her blog, peppered with her trademark wit and four-letter words. Of the creation, Donna Lynne said
"I have dreamed of making a solo album since I was five years old. While being the sole producer,
musical arranger, singer, musician, mixer, master and PR agent on this album has been at times
hilariously overwhelming... it has also allowed me to make this CD exactly as I have wished, and
without compromise. Every song, every minor instrumentation and even the design of the CD
cover are choices that I have agonized over and stand behind 100%. Being my own boss is an
artistic luxury I have not known since I was a teenager and I have unapologetically reveled in it.
With all that said, what was the most rewarding experience of this whole adventure was to be the
humble recipient of so many other people's generosity. I still can't wrap my mind around the
endless bounty of selflessness that has been showered on me by so many amazing people. From
monetary donations, to pre-orders, to offers of talent and skill and advice, to even the occasional
encouraging email this whole experience has massively heightened my humility regarding the
goodness of others. And I believe in my heart that the quality and the emotional heartbeat of the
music on this CD reflects the warmth and spirit of everyone involved. This CD truly took a village...
and I am beyond proud that my name is the on the sign post as you enter our little musical town."

“Old Friends” is currently available for pre-orders at www.donnalynnechamplin.com, and will be
available at all online sources, including Amazon.com and iTunes on December 1st. Please go to her blog about the making of this cd at: http://donnalynnechamplinsfirstsolocd.blogspot.com/

The track listing for “Old Friends” is:
1. "Hard Times Come Again No More"
2. "Eiffel Tower" (from The Blue Flower)
3. "Smile"
4. "Only Hope" (from A Walk To Remember)
5. "County Fair" (from Das Barbecü)
6. "Cry" (from Love Jerry)
7. "Once Upon a December" (from Anastasia)
8. "Where've You Been?"
9. "I Cried For Us"
10. "Still Hurting" (from The Last Five Years)
11. "When She Loved Me" (from Toy Story II)
12. "From God's Arms to My Arms to Yours"
13. "When Eleanor Smiles" (from First Lady Suite)
14. "When The End Comes" (from The Zero Club)
15. "The Parting Glass"
 
Donna Lynne Champlin made her Broadway debut in James Joyce’s The Dead, and appeared to
great acclaim in Hollywood Arms, By Jeeves, and as Pirelli in the John Doyle directed Sweeney
Todd. Her other NYC credits include Very Warm For May (Carnegie Hall), Bloomer Girl (Encores),
Reunion, First Lady Suite, Bury the Dead and My Life With Albertine. She won a 2007 OBIE Award
for her performance in The Dark At The Top of the Stairs, and a 2008 NYMF Outstanding Individual
Performance Award for her performance in Love Jerry. She has also performed her acclaimed one-
woman show Finishing The Act at Ars Nova and The Laurie Beechman Theatre. She appears on
numerous cast albums and recordings, and is currently in the cast of Billy Elliot: The Musical at the
Imperial Theatre. For more information, visit www.donnalynnechamplin.com

***********
(recent interview)

Donna Lynne Champlin: How to Make an Album for $1,000

BrooadwayWorld.com
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - by Jena Tesse Fox

It’s certainly not unusual for a Broadway singer to record an album of favorite songs—in fact, it’s almost more uncommon to find a Broadway singer who hasn’t signed with a major label. But it’s certainly rare to find a Broadway singer who finances, records and mixes her own album, all for less than $1,000.

“For years and years, I’ve wanted to make an album,” says Donna Lynne Champlin, whose debut CD, Old Friends, will be released this weekend. “But sadly, I could never afford the ‘traditional’ route of hiring a label, producers, studio time, etc.” After an injury sustained during Billy Elliott, where Champlin is a singer and dancer, she found herself with six weeks to work on a new project. “It just seemed like a no-brainer all of a sudden,” she says. “The medical leave from Billy was really just a freak-timing thing but, I figured since I was going to be sitting around anyway—why not park my ass in front of the piano, be productive and have some fun. I literally woke up the day after I got my ankle cast and thought, ‘I’m doing this. Today is the day.’”

With a limited budget and some creative ingenuity, Champlin recorded the album in a different kind of studio: her studio apartment’s bathroom, specifically, which she describes as “incredibly convenient. If I was feeling inspired and in good voice, I’d just set everything up in five minutes and record. I’d record when I wanted, for how long I wanted without cost or time restrictions. It was marvelous. Plus, as I live in a studio, it’s the only ‘room’ in my apt with an actual door. So the only ‘controllable environment’ was either the bathroom or the closet.” (“Although how fun would that CD title be?” she quips as an aside: “‘Songs I Sang In The Closet featuring duets with Tom Cruise,’ or something. I dunno.”)

To turn her bathroom into a studio, Champlin simply closed the bathroom door, hung towels around the walls to dampen up the sound, set up her mike and popscreen, plugged in her headphones, put her computer on the sink and her notes on the toilet, and recorded to instrumental tracks she had already laid down. Of course, recording in the bathroom had its own problems. “Every time I was doing a great take of some really delicate and quiet moment, one of my neighbors would inevitably flush their toilets, or run their showers, or drop some sort of anvil, or whatever. That wild-card sound stuff got old really, really really fast. I lost numerous A+ takes with that nonsense.”

“Musically, I knew exactly what I was doing,” she continues. “No question. That was really the main reason I felt I could take this on—because I had no doubt that, musically, it was going to be all right.” Arranging, orchestrating, playing the instruments and singing were “not a problem, massive fun and totally in my wheel house.”

But all the other aspects of putting an album together?

“Oh, dear God,” she says. “I admit, the learning curve for ‘all the other stuff’ was…much more intense than I had expected. And had I not been so incredibly naïve as to how much non-musical work actually goes into making a solo CD, I might not have done it. Of course, I’m thrilled that I did, but…there were many times I felt like I was trying to bail out a boat with a strainer.”

Rather than look on the project as one enormous task to overcome, Champlin tackled each part individually. “And I tried to not leave things hanging either,” she says. “If I started a song, I tried very hard to work on it until it was done. That way I could mentally check it off the list, instead of feeling bits and pieces of this and that hanging over me like a net.” She describes the process as similar to that used in the recent revival of Sweeney Todd, in which she played Pirelli and numerous instruments. “When John (Doyle) would see our brains start to explode he’d say, ‘You just have to do this little bit right now. That’s it. Focus on this little bit. Nothing else matters.’ Actually, now that I think about it, this whole thing had a very similar feel to Sweeney rehearsal. That ever-present (yet ironically awesome) WHAT THE F***??!!! feeling that never goes away until….it magically just….goes away one day.”

Champlin documented the project online at http://donnalynnechamplinsfirstsolocd.blogspot.com, which enabled her to connect with a host of volunteers. “I really owe 99% of my team to the blog,” she says. “When I started, I had no team. Nobody. And I certainly wasn’t going to ask anyone to work for free during a recession. Then my brother suggested I document the whole adventure with a blog so that other people could learn how to make their own CD for a $1,000…and so that I could drive my mom crazy by swearing in public all the time. Obvious win-win there, so I started the blog on September 3, and as of today I have 86 posts on it ranging on everything from the musically hilarious to the technically tragic.”

As the blog picked up steam, various people in the field contacted Champlin and offered their services. “The only person I called personally was Jessica Wright, my violinist. Everyone else called me, offering songs for free, talent and skills for free, graphic design, mixing, studio equipment, PR help….all for free. My mind still can’t comprehend the incredible selflessness of all those people…I still feel quite undeserving at times, of all the kindness that people have shown me through this project.

“The really fun part was when people would offer things I didn’t even know I needed,” she continues. “I can’t tell you how many times I learned I needed something only after someone offered it. Phil Bond offered to host the CD Release party at The Beechman—and then had to explain to me what the hell a CD Release Party was. Insane.”

Champlin reserves particular praise for one member of the team who, she says, “helped me above and beyond what I would even expect my own family to do.” Robbie Rozelle, of PS Classics, started off doing Champlin’s graphics work (“When I brought them to Play-It Direct—the CD Reproduction house—they all started to cry just looking at the art, because his work is so beautiful.”), and moved on to press releases, ad banners, sell sheets—“he’s like a whole Production Company in one man,” Champlin says. “He knows everything about this whole business. He’s a total rock star. I don’t know what I did to deserve Robbie Rozelle in my life, but it must have been some kinda Mother Theresa stuff…I’m sure the amount of work he’s done for me on this CD adds up to at least $15,000. At least. If not $20,000.”

Describing the record as a “concept album,” Champlin narrowed down her song options from lists of songs she likes to listen to and songs she likes to sing. “But if I’m totally honest here, I would work on one song and then I would sit at the piano and think, ‘what would make me the happiest to work on next?’ And whatever song popped into my head is what I’d do. I didn’t worry about patterns, or arcs…I just listened to my heart and worked on whatever would make me happy. That’s how ‘Hard Times’ got on here. I hadn’t even thought of that song in years and yet all of a sudden, all I wanted to do was work on ‘Hard Times.’ So I went and dug it out of some box and I have to say, it turned out so cool we made it the first track on the album.

“Not to sound completely bonkers,” she continues, “but I really believe the ghost of my Grandma has been strongly present during this whole thing. She’s definitely been pulling some angel strings up there and I’ve felt her so strongly the past couple months. There have been too many things that should have gone wrong with this whole project that didn’t, and I know she’s been helping out from up there.”

Champlin describes the album as “chilled-out and very warm and comforting. The reason I named it Old
Friends is because every single one of these songs is a tune that I have personally turned to in my own life for healing and comfort. Every one of these songs has been played on a loop by me—over and over and over—because I needed its help at some point in my life.” Likewise, she hopes that the album will be a source of comfort to other people. “That they might turn to it when they just need to sit back and listen to some really cool tunes, or maybe they’ll just need to listen to one track over and over and over until they feel better. That’s my hope, anyway, that its warmth might have a healing touch to it.”

Overall, Champlin calls the experience of creating an album for $1,000 “very humbling…I went into this perhaps to show why you don’t need to pay all that money to all those people, but I’ve sure as hell walked out of it convinced that all those people don’t get paid nearly enough for what they do. Producers, sound engineers, graphic designers, PR people….those people earn every penny.”

The convenience and the freedom of recording at home was “awesome,” Champlin says, and adds that everyone for whom she has played the CD “has been absolutely shocked that it wasn’t done in a studio. And I owe a lot of that to Steve Jamail, Terron Darby and Chris Nichols. Those three sound engineers transformed my vocal tracks from hissy, cheap-sounding crap to extremely expensive sounding sassiness. They’re modern-day magicians, all three of them.”

Champlin had only intended to do the album on a lark: “Put in $1,000, lose $1,000, have some nice stocking stuffers for the family and something to sell in the lobby at the occasional concert, and that’s about it. The fact that it’s sort of taken on a life of its own has been a total surprise and a complete kick in the pants.” She hopes that people will take a lesson away from her odyssey of creation: “I highly recommend anyone who has time on their hands and a creative project they’ve always wanted to do….to just do it. I have not felt this happy or fulfilled in so many years. Whether you sell it or just give it away, the making of it is just so incredibly satisfying. Please, I’m begging you…do it.”



Reviews


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B. D. Suisse

A brilliant debut CD from an immensely talented performer
This is perhaps the most unique solo CD on the market. Armed with a budget of $1,000 and her own tenacity, Broadway veteran Donna Lynne Champlin has created a heartbreakingly beautiful collection of songs...or as she calls them, "Old Friends." Over the course of twelve weeks, Donna Lynne Champlin arranged, recorded, and produced practically every note you'll hear on this CD. But even more remarkable than the CD's genesis is the raw honesty with which Ms. Champlin inhabits every song. Each track brims with unexpected musical choices that showcase not only the performer's consummate vocal talent, but also her formidable acting chops. The song list includes a number of familiar selections as well as less well-known material, and while she pays homage to the performers who have come before her, Ms. Champlin gently makes each song her own. Granted, one or two tracks on the CD would have benefited from a more experienced recording engineer, but I suspect that would have detracted from the heart of this project. And Ms. Champlin's virtuoso performance constantly shines through, making this one of the most profoundly affecting debut CDs in recent memory.

Sarah

This CD is Absolute Perfection
I openly admit to -
A) Being extremely picky about vocalist CD releases
B) Generally being disappointed in the song choices by amazing vocalists
But Donna Lynne has surpassed the nest of the best. I can honestly say that this is the best CD I have ever listened to. It's beautiful and complex and yes, haunting. Her voice is perfect (but I already knew that) -- what really moved me is her focus and commitment to each character in every song. Unlike most vocalist CDs where talented singers sing standards and sound vocally phenomenal, Donna Lynne takes it a step further -- she creates characters for each song and found objectives for each different character. I was particularly moved by 'Still Hurting'. WOW!

James

Fantastic! Beautiful and moving
This would be an amazing CD even without the great story behind it (made for only $1K). Lots of interesting, obscure stuff on here, including some great renditions of "Where've you been," "Still Hurting," and "When She Loved Me." Champlin's voice is honest and lovely.

Julian

A wonderful testament to an extraordinary talent
B.D. (above) did a great job of describing the process by which Donna Lynne created this CD - all of which is well documented on her blog, which I highly recommend: http://donnalynnechamplinsfirstsolocd.blogspot.com/ - but what is most compelling is the talent which shines through on every track. Donna Lynne proves herself to be more than an amazing songstress - her musical choices are bold, unexpected, assured and they work. As someone who has worked with her before (full disclosure: Love Jerry, a song from which appears as track 6), it was wonderful to hear this and other familiar songs again, and moreover to listen to her take on it. She has always had ready access to her emotional core - a quality which has always informed her performances on the boards - but here, trapped on this little disc, the full force of her interpretations are unleashed upon us. A remarkably fulfilling journey, even for those of us who thought we knew her!

Mark G.

Brilliant and Passionate Album by Donna Lynn Champlin
Old Friends, the new album by Donna Lynn Champlin is not for the musically faint at heart. However, if you enjoy beautiful, haunting melodies and passionate, evocative storytelling, if you enjoy vocal colorings that range from a whispered prayer to a full out primal growl, then this is the album for you. This is intelligent, introspective music and the song choices were deliberate and personal as was the range of delivery style. This is a tear your heart out then stomp on it experience mixed with redemption. From the prayer-like "Only Hope" to the mother-lion's wail on "Cry", Donna Lynn Champlin makes powerful music. She is a muscial storytelling force to be reckoned with in a good way. The fact that she produced this herself, in her bathroom, doing all the vocals, speaks of her extraordinary gifts as a musician. I thank her for sharing her gifts with all of us.

Kristi

Deliciously Wonderful!
This is a fantastic CD, so full of emotion that rarely comes through in recordings. A singer and actor myself, I long for nothing more than to be totally in the moment with the performer and I'm happy to say I was completley in the moment throughout the whole album. 'Old Friends' makes me feel like I'm coming home to a giant hug everytime I listen.

Jeff Carty

"Old Friends" for all of us
Donna Lynne's long-awaited CD is quite a nice collection of "Old Friends" indeed. These old friends - the songs themselves - reveal her tastes as well as her talents. And, of course, her talents are most impressive. Her voice is the melding of precise tones matched with the sensitive delivery of a skilled performer. The product is a wonderful collection of haunting and heartfelt songs that I still have playing in my head hours later. I give it my whole-hearted recommendation.

G. Santos

Sublimely Artistic & Original
The immensely talented Broadway veteran Donna Lynne Champlin has made beautiful musical out of what could of been seen as a setback. Turning a fractured ankle during 'Billy Elliot' and the 6 weeks of healing into the most wonderfully original and artistic solo CD I have heard in a VERY long time. For even more enjoyment, see her intensely entertaining blog that chronicles the budget ($1000) and the process, including the ups and downs of her amazing artistic journey. BUY THIS CD! features completely uniqueuniwue


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Michael H. Arve

Donna Lynne Champlin - a talent for the ages
When I received Donna's CD i ran to my cd player put it on and listened to it - 6 times in a row. As a theatre director and as a huge fan of good music, I was blown away. All the selections are fabulous - and I love the fact that they are not the usual fare on a cd- but the one that brought me to tears was SMILE. In my 66 years I have heard this song recorded and sung countless times by the greats, Judy Garland among them, but none of them have moved me as much as Donna did.
I can't wait for her next CD HURRY HURRY HURRY

Theresa Flanagan

Pure Genius
This is an absolutely beautiful, heart-wrenching CD- orchestrated, arranged and sung PERFECTLY! Ms. Champlin is not only a musical genius, but she can imbue a song with so much personality and emotion! Her unique, powerful voice is so easy to listen to! Her heart and soul are in every song...and every song will fill your heart and soul!