Fairytale musings on SANTA DOT COM from Composer, Producer:
When SANTA DOT COM was first recorded with young Broadway star, Kara Oates in New York City, the stage was set, at least in my mind, to record a duet with Great Britian’s famed boy soprano, Laurence Kilsby, but there was one catch. No one else knew anything about it and nothing was actually planned. The idea seemed like a logistical impossibility at the time, given the fact that I wasn’t sure it would or could happen, in spite of my hopes. The fact that I had nothing musically worked out yet, didn’t help either. But within a few moments of hearing Kara sing, I imagined what the duet would be like and instantly realized that I had to make it happen, somehow. I then mentioned to Kara that I had the duet in mind. BTW, I never rehearsed with either of these two gifted performers so, you might think that performing with a person that didn’t exist would be a problem for her, but it wasn’t. The process of recording two child stars, that never met, on two different continents with an ocean in between, turned out to be not as difficult as you might expect. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I had a number of options. In spite of the fact that Kara was recorded in a hi-tech New York recording studio and Laurence was recorded in a barn with chickens at the window in the middle of the beautiful idyllic English Cotswold county side, where you would never expect to find a studio in the first place, everything work out like a magical fairy tale. Ultimately, Kara recorded her version. Then I created the duet version by editing Kara’s track and asked Laurence to record the duet version in addition to his solo version. In the end, it all worked out better than I could have possibly expected. I hope to introduce them to each other someday. Now that would be a wonderful fairy tale ending.
The story of how S.A.N.T.A. DOT COM ended up in its current form is rather amusing.
I have been privileged to work with the renowned lyricist Hal Hackady on a number of projects over the years including a musical version of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, a choral trilogy called T.N.T. (Taxi, Noise, Time) published by SUBITO MUSIC PUBLISHING and a number of other songs. This collaboration turned out to be a very special one. Here’s the story.
One afternoon I called Hal and asked him to write lyrics to a new traditional type Christmas song that I had just finished. I faxed him a “dummy” lyric to point him in the direction of what the song was supposed to be about and sung it to him on the phone. Hal has a very good memory and is able to remember a song from hearing it once. He said that he really liked the song and that writing a lyric to it would be a lot of fun. The concept was everything you might expect from a traditional Christmas song: family, Santa, Christmas tree, chimney, presents, chestnuts, etc. We didn’t speak any further about it. I was gone for the rest of the day. On my way home that evening I called my wife, Eva. She said that Hal had faxed back a great lyric about Santa and the Internet. I was shocked and speechless. I thought he went completely mad. I rushed home and read his lyric and was horrified. To say that I was furious would be an understatement. Hal totally ignored every idea that I suggested and never called to ask about anything. Whether I liked his approach?: … NOTHING! He apparently knew something that I didn’t and had no intention of sharing it at that point.
The following morning, as I was about to call Hal and read him the riot act, it occurred to me that I was the “Dummy”. Hal was right to disregard everything that I suggested.
In one afternoon Hal managed to turn what probably would have been just another average Christmas song into an adorable, fanciful, fun and freshly inventive song about communicating with Santa using the Internet.
You should know that Hal is as “old school” as it gets. He is completely electronically challenged. He doesn’t own a computer and still works on a Remington ribbon typewriter. Hal can barely figure out how his cassette player works and doesn’t want to know about a cd player. He was forced to get a fax machine out of necessity in order to send lyrics back and forth quickly. PS: it always takes him 2 or 3 tries to get his fax machine to work right. On the other hand he can recite Shakespeare, lyrics to all of the great songs and make up a limerick in a split second on any subject. How he came up with this concept can only be attributed to his true gift. Many lesser lyricists would have done exactly what I asked but I will be forever grateful to Hal for his talent, boldness and craftsmanship.
A little about Hal:
Hal Hackady is known though out the world as an American lyricist, librettist and screenwriter. Early in his career he wrote several episodes for ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and many of the rock and roll period movies like HEY, LET’S TWIST with stars Annette Funicello and Elvis Presley, etc.
However his real claim to fame came from his work as a lyricist in the Broadway theatre. He is best known for his lyrics for Snoopy!!! The Musical, a sequel to You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Goodtime Charley, Teddy & Alice, Ambassador and Minnie’s Boys for which the song, Mama, A Rainbow, was written and has since become a cabaret standard. Oddly enough, many people don’t know that all New York Mets fans are familiar with his lyrics for “LETS GO METS”, the team’s theme song. Hal is also the winner of London’s coveted OLIVIER AWARD presented to recognize excellence in the professional theatre.
Kara Oates: currently performing as Jane Banks in Broadway's hit musical, Mary Poppins. Broadway: Billy Elliot (Keeley Gibson). National Tour: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Regional credits: title role in Annie, The Sound of Music (Marta). Television credits: "30 Rock," "The Chew," and "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."
Also voices "Dora the Explorer" theme song and nominated for Best Young Actress in Live Theatre in 2012.
Laurence Kilsby, a Tewkesbury Abbey chorister, has been hailed as one of the best choristers of his generation. He has sung for the Queen of England at St Paul’s Cathedral at her Diamond Jubilee, toured Europe and America, and was BBC Chorister of the Year 2009. He has made many recordings, most recently Mozart Vesperae Solemnes De Confessore & Coronation Mass, and John Rutter, The Tewkesbury Collection. He has also sung at the European Parliament, Lambeth Palace for The Archbishop of Canterbury, BBC Songs of Praise on TV, Radio 4 solos from Tewkesbury Abbey, Radio 4 and Classic FM have played tracks from the Mozart Recording. During school holidays he takes part in youth theatre and has played the roles of Oliver, Jet in Westside story and sung the musical, Macbeth. On Christmas 2011, he sang with Lesley Garret at Royal Albert Hall, and he is singing this Christmas with Aled Jones at Royal Albert Hall. Laurence likes to visit the theatre to see musicals, opera and Shakespeare productions, and hopes to one day tread the boards London and Stratford upon Avon. He plays the cello, piano and clarinet and is currently a pupil and music scholar of Dean Close School Cheltenham. He now sings with Dean Close school chapel and chamber choirs.
Luellen Abdoo (Strings): New York Philharmonic, NYC Ballet, Aerosmith, Oasis, Bon Jovi, The Who, Ray Charles, Andy Williams, etc. Founder: Synergy String Quartet, Saratoga String Quartet and NYC Ballet Musicians & Friends.
Mixed and Mastered by G & J Audio (Gene Paul and Joel Kerr)
Orchestra premixed by Joe Gianono
The Goto Production Girl: Sandra Kilsby
Produced by Joe Gianono in association with Addeo Productions.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all on behalf of everyone involved.
Joe Gianono (Composer/Producer) and Richie Addeo (Associate Producer)