The London Hospices Choir and Paul Carrack, The Living Years

Jim conducting the tenors for The Living Years at Abbey Road Studios

Last Christmas James Hawkins Music project-managed and produced The Living Years by the London Hospices Choir and Paul Carrack. Film maker Rav Vagdama has created this short film about the making of the song.

Watch here:

We brought together a specially created choir of 300 patients, families, staff and volunteers of all ages from 18 hospices across London with Paul Carrack, the song’s original singer. The song was released at Christmas 2016 to raise awareness and vital funds for the hospices, and stayed at the top of the Official Physical Sales Chart for two weeks.

BA Robertson, the writer of The Living Years, highly commended the new version saying that the vocal was “better than the original”.

Say It In The Living Years artwork

This beautiful song is still available to download here.

HMV (Physical CD)

Amazon (Physical CD)

Amazon (Digital)

iTunes

Lead vocalist, Paul Carrack, said, “The Living Years has been an important song for me for many years, but this is the version that means the most. Recording it with this incredibly special group of people for such a worthwhile cause has created some kind of magic. It’s a powerful and inspiring track, and I hope that everyone gets behind it this Christmas.”

 

Press Enquiries: jameshawkinsmusic.pr@gmail.com

Choral Production at Abbey Road Studios

Super pleased with the outcome of today! I was asked to assemble and direct a mixed choir of amateur and professional voices to record at Abbey Road Studios for artist Fox Amoore, on his latest album The Dreamcatcher. The singers recorded five album tracks and made the day smooth and inspiring with their smiling and professional attitude. Feedback from the composer was that he was moved by the powerful and beautiful sound we produced.

The singers all did themselves proud and here is a short snippet of a take from today’s session.

I am looking forward to more of the same, especially with my own Eclipse Choir. Well done guys!

#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…

Please share!

#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:

 

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!

The Military Wives Choir and the race to be Christmas No.1!

Military Wives Choir Recording 500 Miles

I had great fun arranging and producing, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) for the Military Wives and Walking with the Wounded Charity! The ladies from the Military Wives’ Choir were an absolute joy to work with and were both a lot of fun but extremely professional and hard working! It was inspiring to work alongside Rachel Smith, the choir director; she was incredible and paid such attention to detail.

The Christmas single, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), reached 47 in the iTunes chart and was performed live on Good Morning Britain by members from the choir during December.

We recorded the choir in a day at Metropolis Studios, which is where Adele had recorded most of her recent album, and I created the final musical arrangement over the following two days. It was mixed and mastered here at Chocolate Box Studios by the astoundingly talented Ash Alexander who can be heard playing guitar on the track. A fantastic effort by all involved and I’m very proud of the outcome.

Walking with the Wounded is a charity that specialises in supporting military veterans who've suffered injury, physical, mental or social.  They help them re-integrate into society by providing training for qualifications and skills, and giving social support. Please take a look at their website here. 

The Military Wives Choir was founded by Gareth Malone five years ago on the BBC television series, The Choir, that then led to their beautiful Christmas Number One single Wherever You Are in 2011. There are now Military Wives Choirs all over the country with the wonderful mission of bringing together the women who support our serving soldiers through singing together. Find out more here.

You can still purchase the single here.

Military Wives Choir I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)

If you watch the video below, you might catch a couple of glimpses of Jim's magic pointer finger at work!

Military Wives Sessions at Metropolis Studio

 

The Official Video

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:

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