» GRIT GIVEAWAY! Enter to win a copy of Mel Washington's Celebration by commenting on this post. Details below.
Born and raised in Charleston, Mel Washington knows a thing or two about change, and it bleeds through into his music.
This past November, Mel enlisted the help of Wolfgang Zimmerman (Brave Baby, Sequoyah Prep School), Alec Stanley (Death On Two Wheels), and a cast of other musicians to record a Christmas album. After seven long days, Celebration, was born. The release was a new start for Washington.
"I was really intentional about having a mature sound. I wanted to make the album sound the way Christmas sounds to me... Fun and cheerful, yet somber and reflective at the same time.”
The album features multiple Christmas classics, including "Let It Snow" and "White Christmas," all with Washington's smooth vocal twist and beautiful harmonies from Ince. The album is now available and is available on all major platforms.
Hunter: So what made you decide to create this holiday album? How did it all come to fruition?
Mel: This album was a dream from years ago with Executive Producer Shahriar Sedghi and his wife Beth. They wanted me to do an album with their daughter Sarra, but it was just something we'd talk about at family get togethers for years. It finally made sense to do it this year and it was a challenge I wanted to put in front of me.
Hunter: When recording, was there any inspiration that you needed to seek out?
Mel: Sonically, I wanted to capture an essence of a reflection of Christmas time to me. From a musical influence, I can't say that there were too many direct influences. Just a bit of reflecting what I've been listening to over the years in that vein. Jamie Cullum comes to mind.
Hunter: Love Jamie Cullum, I can definitely here that in the album. So how was it collaborating with other artists that quickly?
Mel: Collaborating has become one of my favorite things. I've done more co-writes this year than I have in my entire career, and they have been so educational, eye-opening, and fun. The past couple of albums have been rather collaborative as well and it's my new favorite way of making albums. To get people together and let them bring their own seasoning to this Crockpot we're brewing. It's so amazing to watch the Creator reflected through his Creation while they create. It's just a really cool, cool experience.
Whenever I make a record that someone thinks is "great," I have to let them know that there are a ton of people that make those records great. Celebration was made great by folks like Wolfgang Zimmerman, Steven Walker, Alec Stanley, Beth Clarey, Lea Sedghi, Collin Holder, Shonda the maid who was so gracious to give me trash bags every time I asked for them during the recording process, which I feel was like nine times a day, and so many other people. The locals in Macon, GA, that we were able to hire to come and play on the album were so gracious and kind and it was interesting because most of them weren't studio musicians. And, while some might think of that as an obstacle, I really appreciate their ability to keep the recording organic. Many of the vocals are left untouched to keep it as honest as possible. In fact, on "Oh Holy Night" we tried tracking five or six other vocal takes after the scratch track and none of them were as believable as the scratch reference track. Wolfgang and Steven both had to convince me to keep the take, and in the end I'm really glad we did!
Hunter: Where is the album available?
Mel: It's on most digital outlets, iTunes, Amazon MP3, etc. You can find it on my Band Camp account as well, http://melwashington.bandcamp.com, with physical copies available for order, as well, where you’ll receive an automatic free digital download when you order it there.
Hunter: Any live appearances promoting the album?
Mel: A few throughout the Southeast. Tomorrow in Charleston at the Goorin Bros Hat Shop on King Street. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free drinks! Friday night in Atlanta at Vinyl. Saturday night playing a house show in Nashville. Next Thursday hosting a Christmas show in Columbia at Delaney's Music Pub and then next Saturday playing a house show in Macon, GA. Physical copies of Celebration will be available at all of those shows.
» GRIT GIVEAWAY! What's your favorite Christmas classic? "Oh, Holy Night"? "Baby It's Cold Outside"? "Santa Baby"? Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Mel's new album, Celebration. Contest ends 11:59 p.m. Sunday, 12/15, and the winner will be picked at random.