Albright featuring Vivian Sessoms Interview

albrightAlbright featuring Vivian Sessoms has been blazing a trail since the release of their album "Sunny One Day".

The duo of Vivian Sessoms and Chris Parks has recorded and performed with many top-notch artists like Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, P. Diddy, Sinead O'Conner, Stevie Wonder, P!nk, Joe Cocker and Lalah Hathaway to name many on their resume.

When Vivian and Chris are not out on the road touring, they are two of the most sought after session musicians in New York City. They also have been running their own recording facility Suprdupr Sound and their own production company Cherri Music http. This has kept them busy producing and recording artists like Lalah Hathaway, Heavy and Amel Larrieux. 

albrightAlbright featuring Vivian Sessoms has been blazing a trail since the release of their album "Sunny One Day".

The duo of Vivian Sessoms and Chris Parks has recorded and performed with many top-notch artists like Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, P. Diddy, Sinead O'Conner, Stevie Wonder, P!nk, Joe Cocker and Lalah Hathaway to name many on their resume.

When Vivian and Chris are not out on the road touring, they are two of the most sought after session musicians in New York City. They also have been running their own recording facility Suprdupr Sound and their own production company Cherri Music http. This has kept them busy producing and recording artists like Lalah Hathaway, Heavy and Amel Larrieux. 

Albright will be performing at NU SOUL SATURDAY's in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday September 20th at Frank's Lounge with REEL PEOPLE and SHAE FIOL on the show as well. The cover is $10 at the door.

TP: Congrats on all the positive press and reviews you've received for "Sunny One Day"!!! Were you surprised how quickly your album garnered so much press upon its release?

Albright: Absolutely! It's always a mystery how people will receive any kind of creative endeavor. You just really don't know what will resonate with people but you do your best, you follow your heart and you pray for the best.

TP: Did the two of you write all of the music or did you have any collaborators? Did you have any guest musicians on the recording?

Albright: We wrote most of the music with the exception of maybe 3 songs? Tainted, He Who Knows, & Fadin' Out.. But we're not the kind of artists that have to write everything. Although I do love to write, I love a good song and I don't care where it comes from.

Tainted came about as a kind of tribute to Dilla because I used to looooove the Slum Village version of that song so much and I always loved the song Tainted Love as well..

As far collaborations go, the group Heavy recorded most of their album at our studio in Brooklyn and then they decided to change direction. I always loved He Who Knows and thought it was such a gorgeous song so when I found out they weren't going to use it, I asked if I could record it and that is how we came to collaborate with Casey and Nikki of Heavy.

We also collaborate with Sherrod Barnes quite often who, next to Chris is one of my most favorite musicians in the world!

In fact, I can honestly say that everyone playing in our band these days are all my favorite musicians from Eric Brown (Drums), Casey Benjamin (Keys & Sax), Miles Roberson (Keys), Carlos Henderson (Bass) and Sherrod.

I love Sherrods playing and writing style, he has this very beautiful and lush way of making music..

We also collaborated with Wondress Hutchinson, an incredible singer and an even more incredible lyricist, if you don't know about her, you should try to find out. She wrote the track Fadin' Out on our album with her partner 'Silva Sirfah' but she also co-wrote the title track Sunny One Day along with my sister Jenny Douglas McRae and myself, and Admit It on Lalah Hathaway's Outrun The Sky.

It's Alright is one of the first songs I ever wrote and after I wrote that song I felt like I'd rather be known as a writer than a singer.

Love Can Turn You Around I wrote some years ago when I was signed to Kay Gee of Naughty By Nature with my writing partner at the time Freddie 'Ruxpin' Robinson, (also another of my favorites).

Dunno What we wrote with a very talented up and coming young writer named Shae Fontaine and her protoge Jai Will.

TP: With the amount of touring and session work you both do, how did you find time to record this album?

Albright: When we have time off we try to cram in as much as we can. Sometimes Chris will meet me out on the road and bring a small pro tools rig with mikes, etc. For the project we're working on now, we will probably do some recording at studios in other countries.

TP: As Independent artists, what do you find is the most difficult part of the getting the album out to the masses?

Albright: Getting booked to perform. That is THE most difficult thing I've experienced. I've been performing for a good while but putting out this record had been like starting from scratch. It is very difficult to get booked and therefore difficult to build a consistent following. I find that many if not most independent artists have this problem and I'm not just talking about new artists, it's even difficult for many established indie artists.

TP: How difficult is it to find Distribution for your CD as an Independent Artist? Do you currently have Distribution and what channels did you go through to find Distribution?

Albright: We've been very lucky in that we've had some great people working with us on this record, namely Kevin Harewood from Edclectic Entertainment. Kevin helped us get distribution here in the states but before that we went through CDBaby and they did an excellent job for us and they helped us with so many aspects of our online presence from making the cd available for download on their site to getting the cd to Amazon, i-tunes and a whole host of other download sites. We host our site with Hostbaby, also, which under the CDBaby umbrella. Lastly, we also just did a distribution deal in Japan with P-Vine records.

TP: Have you been working on any other projects recording or touring-wise outside of Albright that you mention?

Albright: Yes, as a matter of fact, I'm working on a solo record at the moment & Chris is also working on a solo record. We're working with a young hip hop artist who is out of this world. Chris has been recording some other artists, Janita, Renee Neufville and a few others.

Chris is also playing with Deborah Cox and I just finished a tour with Joe Cocker and am about to start a tour with P!nk.

TP: You've also produced other artists like Lalah Hathaway and Heavy to name a few. How do you balance the requests to be in the studio versus being out on the road?

Albright: We just do the best we can.. Sometimes things can get pretty hectic and even frustrating..

TP: The two of you seem to have so many musical influences, styles that have been integrated into your sound. Can you name some influences that helped shape the sound of your album?

Albright: I really can't. I can't even think of anything I was listening to at the time. That's not to say I'm not influenced by any and everything, but at the time we were making that record. There were a lot of sweeping changes taking place in both our lives and so we spent a lot of time being quiet at home.

TP: Sounds like you took those influences and what people consider Soul today and put a new spin on it lyrically, musically and production wise that everyone is diggin'?

Albright: Thank you :-)

TP: Can you talk about lyrically what influenced these songs?

Albright: Writing with people whose ideas I love is one great influence. Also the things that were happening in my life at the time and in the world, Katrina, the Bush Administration, bad love, great love, family, the ghetto where I'm from..

TP: Do you handle all of your music business related chores or do you have assistance from outside Support?

Albright: Mostly, but we do have a small and impressive team of creative minds on our side.

-Katrina Boswell of Katwalk Media does our PR and she is an absolute gem of a person to work with.

-Kevin Harewood, who I'd mentioned earlier, aided us in getting distribution and has been our marketing person for internet and college radio but who is also a wealth of knowledge about all things music and to whom we are very grateful for sharing with us his wisdom and ideas..

-Brett Green, the best attorney we've ever had.. Period!

-Teddy Crockett (manager for Heavy & Black-I) has also been a great ally and friend to both Chris and myself

A lot of people don't know this but we worked with a young lady named Kateria Niambi who was instrumental in helping us to establish a solid internet presence. I've been trying very hard to convince her to go into business for herself.

TP: Have you performed overseas? Where did you play and how were the shows received?

Albright: We did a few free acoustic shows in London and did pretty good. Also last year I did a tour of Demark with Danish composer and pianist Mads Baerentzen. Half the show we did songs from his trio album on which I was the featured vocalist, and the other half of the show we did songs from the Albright record. We played to sold out crowds and I think the shows were very well received. We had a great time together!

TP: Are there any new Indie Soul artists that you've recently heard that have made an impact on you musically?

Albright: I'm listening to Rogier who's record I love love love! Just started getting into PJ Morton who I really like.

Also listening to Estelle, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Marc Broussard who is just a mother fucker live!!

TP: Name some artists that you'd like to work with in the future?

Albright: The Soulquarians, D'Angelo, Raphael Saadiq, Danger Mouse, Mark Ronson, Jon Brion, Steve Jordan, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, Billy Joel.

TP: What are some of the most recently downloads or CD's that you've purchased?

Albright: This new americana artist named Justin Townes Earle, a new band called The Virgins, also The Bird and the Bee, love them.

Sparkle by Aretha Franklin, Duffy, Anthony David, and an unreleased Van Hunt ep.

I also just downloaded the new Glenn Campbell (Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix), Loudon Wainwright (Rufus Wainwright's dad) and the new Brian Wilson (the Beachboys) who I've always been a big fan of.

Please come out on Saturday September 20th at Frank's Lounge to hear Albright featuring Vivian Sessoms and Shae Fiol perform special acoustic sets with a listening party for the UK group Reel People. The cover is $10 and it will be the best money you've spent in a long time to hear quality musicianship live. Please view the eflyer below.

By Tom Paul

 
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