#iHope a new song with an incredible purpose

#iHope, though it hurt I will never turn away

We’re so pleased that today, 20th May, the new Missing People charity single ‪#‎iHope‬ is released to the world!

Jim co-wrote and produced the song with the aim of highlighting the stories of the Missing People families ahead of International Missing Children’s Day on Wednesday 25 May 2016.

It’s been more than three months of hard work and over 250 recordings of singers, choral groups and musicians brought together in Chocolate Box Studio. But moreover it’s truly been one of the most significant and moving projects Jim’s ever worked on.

You can now watch the full music video below. It is released today, so if you love the film, head to iTunes, Google Play or Amazon to buy the single, and support the charity to reach more of the 140,000 children who go missing every year.

In the video you’ll see The Missing People Choir joined by Royal Mail‘s Mail Voice Choir as well as music stars from across the decades including Chesney Hawkes, Rick Astley, Nik Kershaw, T’pau/Carol Decker, Lesley Garrett, G4 Official, Kerry Ellis, Jodie Prenger, Hayley Tamaddon, and BalsamoDeighton.

Huge thanks to the amazing Rav Vadgama who volunteered to produce this incredible video.

Buy it now:
iTunes – http://radi.al/IHope
Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Missing-People-Choir-…/…/B01EXR1CZC
Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/music/album…

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#iHope – A new Charity single for The Missing People Choir

Released on May 20th, Jim Hawkins co-wrote and produced the single “I Hope” featuring the Missing People Choir, The Royal Mail Choir and a host of celebrities including Rick Astley, Chesney Hawkes, Carol Decker, G4 and Lesley Garrett  amongst others. You can download the single from here: http://radi.al/IHope

Promotional short:

 

The Missing People Choir and Alice Gross’s song

The Missing People Choir with James Hawkins Directing

I’m extremely proud to have continued work with an amazing and strong group of people who come together to sing for their missing loved ones. The Missing People Choir is made up of family members and friends who have lost a loved one. They are the most significant group of voices I’ve ever worked with and what we create together goes way beyond just singing. There is real purpose, a strong message, a release of true and deeply felt emotion as every word being sung is fuelled with the hope of reaching a missing person, a missing loved one, son, daughter, sister, brother, child…. It really is a very special choir.

This year I was invited to create a vocal arrangement of Alice Gross’s song, Don’t Let It Go Away. The choir and I met six times to rehearse and prepare for the performance at St Martin in the Fields on December 7th at the Missing People Christmas Service. The service was extremely well attended and all the readings were especially poignant. Rosalind Hodgkiss, mother of Alice, who was found murdered in 2014, appeared on Good Morning Britain in December to talk about her daughter and how Missing People supported them in the weeks she was missing. You can watch it here.

The choir performed at a slightly smaller service at York Minster the following week where they sang both Alice’s song and last year’s song, I Miss You, and the message was as strong as it was in London. Heart breaking. You can read more about the song I Miss You and our journey to write and record it here.

If you would like to support the Missing People Charity then please follow the link and purchase the song here

Men of the Missing People Choir in 2015

Missing People Choir ladies 2015

Jim Hawkins Choir Director

More wonderful photos of the choir singing together this November are here. Many thanks to Caroline Jones Photography for her marvellous work.

The Official Video “Don’t Let It Go Away”

Singing Hands – “Christmas Cracker” and Spring Term 3 Music!

Singing Hands with Makaton

Christmas started early in June/July for Suzanne and Tracey from Singing Hands. My job was to record their vocals, arrange the musical accompaniments to meet their clear vision and ideas, mix and produce the albums. I expanded my sound library to incorporate a Didgeridoo, a Jaw Harp, a Thumb Piano and various Foli FX to help create the wonderfully imaginative world of Singing Hands! My 3-year-old son loved this project!

We initially recorded and arranged 28 songs for their 2016 Spring Term repertoire but quickly moved on to their choice of 19 Christmas songs for their latest DVD/CD release. It was great fun…sometimes a bit surreal working with these two charming and talented ladies who are probably the hardest working vocal duo I know! It’s humbling to see the effects of their work and I am inspired by their dedication and commitment to providing the service of happiness through singing and Makaton sign language.

If you haven’t met Singing Hands yet then take a look at the amazing and life-changing work they do with children across the country here:

http://www.singinghands.co.uk or check out their Facebook page for more news.

We start work again in January…I’m excited to know what they have in store for me…but I know it’s in the realm of 60 songs!! Wow!

Florence Glen EP – “Spread them eggs”

I had the real pleasure to work with Florence Glen on her four-track EP. My role as producer was to select four songs from her extensive back catalogue and create musical arrangements that would enhance her skillful writing and explore/create the “Florence Glen sound”. She has been played and reviewed on BBC Six Music, Tom Robinson introducing and Fresh On The Net.

The arrangement is well crafted and intriguing.

It has been another great opportunity to invest in top session musicians and mix engineers such as Geoff Gascoyne (Double Bass) and John Park (Drums) and George Shilling (mix engineer and producer) as they bring new life to the songs and help the arrangements blossom.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed working with Flo, she is especially talented and it’s so lovely to be working on songs that I’d personally buy if I heard them on the radio. Her EP is now released and you can purchase a digital or CD copy here.

Great writing and vocals, hugely experienced players and a very astute production. Thumbs up!

Florence Glen At Chocolate Box Studio

 

Flo has a great feature on her Facebook page: every week she posts a recording for New Music Monday. So go and like her page and enjoy some of this talented lady's new tunes:

Games Maker Choir Recording & Production

Games Maker Choir 2015

Games Maker Choir Rehearsal

Jim helped produce the Games Maker Choir show-reel below. We recorded the vocals for three tracks at Abbey Road Studios in February 2015 and mixed them here at Chocolate Box Studios.

The Games Maker choir members are all Games Makers from the London 2012 Olympics and they often sing at high profile sporting events, such as the Rugby World Cup in 2015. You can read more about their group here.

“I Miss You”, the Missing People Choir song

Missing People Choir

The story behind the Missing People Choir

The Missing People Choir formed in summer 2014 masterminded by Clare Cook from the Missing People charity and Jim.  Its mission was to bring together the families and loved ones of the missing as a choir, to start something new, to enjoy music and singing together, and thereby raise spirits, share stories, bring encouragement and hope to the group.

Soon afterwards an idea formed that the Missing People Choir should have its own song for their Christmas performance.

Peter Boxell, whose son Lee has been missing since 1988 wrote the lyrics to the song ‘I Miss You’ in tribute to his missing son. Jim, along with professional writer and arranger, Simon Rhodes, wrote the song in the studio here initially to perform at the Missing People Carol Service at St Martin-in-the-Field on December 8th 2014.

The performance

The choir had just six full rehearsals together with Jim before the concert, some of the singers had never sung in a choir before and for the majority, this would be their first ever public performance. Nevertheless they raised their game and got over their nerves to deliver an exceptional and moving performance on the night, which touched the hearts of many people there.

Here’s quite a highlight of my year. I worked with the Missing People Charity to create a choir made up of families who are suffering the loss of a loved one. Many of the members were singing for the first time in their lives and I’m very proud of their achievement. This was a powerful experience and has reached out to a lot of people.
I invite you to support the Missing People Charity by sharing this video with your friends but most importantly, your family.
“where words fail, music speaks”

 

How to produce a song

A guest post by Sian Rowlands

How many music producers can you name off the top of your head? I got stuck after Sir George Martin and Labrinth. Producers are the unsung heroes of the music industry, shadowy figures closeted in dark studios allowing the vocalist to shine. But what do producers actually do?

When singer, Susie Goulding, and I decided to write a song we knew we wanted Jim to produce it for us. Writing the song is a story for another time, but once we had the lyrics, basic melody and structure we were ready for production. Jim asked us both to provide three songs we liked so he could get an idea for our vision of the song. Susie came up with three songs that demonstrated the vocalist’s range, skills and dynamics while my songs were all about instrumentation, structure and lyrics. These gave Jim a framework of reference and a better understanding of the feel we both wanted to achieve.

The producer’s job is to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of a huge range of instruments (who knew there were so many drums?) and play most of them; the musical knowledge of a room full of Beethovens; the skill to interpret suggestions like, ‘a bit more twangy at that bit’ and have enough technical expertise to power a medium-sized Hadron Collider from the bottom of the garden.

Once the instrumentation and feel had been decided and recorded I was ready for a lie down in a dark room for the next three years. The producer’s next task, however, is to develop and record the vocals. Knowing Jim’s ear for the perfect vocal we knew Susie was in for some hard work in the recording booth, but I wasn’t expecting him to pass me a pair of headphones and tell me to come up with some backing vocals. And then some upper and lower harmonies to go with my own vocals. Oh and could I rewrite the bridge please? And sing that bit again an octave lower? As Susie and I both discovered, if Jim tells you you can do it, then somehow you find you can. This is the producer’s gift: cultivating a gem from the uncut diamond (or in my case a lump of coal).

It’s been a fascinating process and a complex one. There were tears (although mostly of laughter), tricky decisions, soul-searching and a large dollop of hard work but our song is all the better for it. We wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Now for song number two. What are you doing for the next two years, Jim?

Links:

http://www.susiegoulding.com/

http://rockinginthefreelanceworld.wordpress.com/

 

“Mrs Pain”, by Christina Laroque.

Christina Laroque is a London-based singer songwriter and came to me for help in producing two new songs, “Mrs Pain”, and, “Day by day”. Both are quite epic and take influence from the production values of Evanescence and Sia-1000. See Christina’s poignant video for the song “Mrs Pain”.

We started with the melody and a simple piano part on first meeting, then we discussed the type of sound she was looking for and I started work pretty much immediately.

I think both songs have strong character and Christina’s vocal is awesome with soaring highs and sensitive lows. An enjoyable project and I hope to work more with Christina Laroque in the future!

Arranged, recorded, produced and mixed by Jim Hawkins. Mastered at Abbey Road Studios. www.christinalaroque.com