🚀 Part 2: Rocket Science 🎧


After several months of singing with Diane at open-mics and devotional gatherings in New York, a songwriter friend of mine, Hillary Chapman, came over to me one night at The Cornerstone and recommended that I get in touch with a great sound engineer he knew down in Washington, DC. Hillary gave me a phone number and within a week I was on a bus to DC for my first session with Kelly Snook at It’s Not Rocket Science Studios.

At that time, Kelly was, in fact, an astrophysicist working in the upper echelons of NASA and specializing in Mars research. But it was clear from the first time I met her that Kelly’s true calling was music. While working at NASA, she was simultaneously building a recording studio and developing her skills as a music producer by recording local artists in DC.

Our very first recording session began with a democratic spirit that was, in hindsight, surprisingly automatic, and which would characterize the way we worked together from then on. Every decision – musical, technical, logistical – was talked through with mutual consideration for each other’s ideas. This kind of artist-producer dialogue was exciting in that it created an openness to new possibilities and led to artistic decisions that perhaps neither of us would have arrived at alone.

That day, we only spoke briefly about the subject of devotional songs. Setting the Bahá’í Writings to music was still a new area for me and I had a bunch of other “proper” songs that I thought I should record first. I played a few of them for Kelly and we settled on one called A Few Honest Words.

The way Kelly transformed my little acoustic ditty completely blew my mind. The following day, I went back to New York with what seemed like a totally different song to the one I had sung the day before. Kelly had been developing her own methods of music production, using her skills in both science and music to create layers upon layers of sounds that weave in and out of each other and surround the listener from every direction.

That first session in 2007 was the beginning of a 10-year intercontinental collaboration which has brought me and Kelly back and forth across the Atlantic too many times to count, and which has slowly led to the making of Year of the Nightingale.

kellyBeing the album’s producer, sound engineer, arranger and my main musical collaborator, Year of the Nightingale would not exist without the spirit and skill of the good Dr. Kelly Snook.

To hear an example of Kelly’s production, here is the recording of A Few Honest Words from that first session at It’s Not Rocket Science Studios: A Few Honest Words, produced by Kelly Snook



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