Cathy Graham

My Story – Part 1

Cathy Graham Musings, News

Here is my much overdue first communication with all of you lovely people who are enjoying my songs. Thank you for your patience.

It always amazes me how time can fly by and then, yikes, I find that a whole year has passed by since my CD release in Saskatoon in October of 2014. For my first few newsletters I want to tell you the story about the beginnings of my CD journey and of my first trip to Nashville. By the end of the year I should have you all caught up to my present adventures. I don’t want to write a novel but do want to tell you about what I have experienced while going for my dream.

Where does one start with a story like mine? Just a quick bit of history. I did sing solo when I was in my teens and early twenties. I fell away from music, other than listening and singing in my car, until I started to perform with a group called Relative Harmony in 2000. It was in 2002 that I wrote “Waltz Across The Prairies” and that is where the journey begins….

The waltz that I had written hung around and gathered dust for a few years. I tried to record it once but was not happy with the outcome. Though I was satisfied having others sing the song I was annoyed that I did not seem able to sing the lead parts for my own songs. My voice would crack and I could not figure out why. I was able to sing when I was alone in my car. I was able to sing harmonies in a group setting but put me in front of people, even family, and I seemed to have a problem of singing the lead parts.

I first needed to have an instrumental track for the waltz so I contacted the Amundrud brothers, Daryl and Gary, from Lloydminster. They helped to give me the initial track and then eventually sent it across the border to be done by musicians in Nashville. I enjoyed the track very much. The only thing I would have changed would have been the volume of the drums. My ear found them to be a bit loud but you must also remember that I played with a completely acoustic group that had no drummer.

I needed to find singers. The people I automatically thought of were my niece Jamie for the lead and my cousin Hazel to help me with the harmonies. Both agreed and the recording of the vocals was done. I had the waltz manufactured as a single. I sent the song to CJWW in Saskatoon in hopes that it would get a small amount of play. The radio station slotted the song for the Saturday Night Dance Party. Though it started out slow it soon became a song that got requested often.

People started to contact me to order the single. Many would ask if I had other songs that they could listen to and purchase. This is when I finally decided that I would try to produce a CD of original songs. In discussions with Daryl and Gary Amundrud I asked how I could be guaranteed that I would get the volume of the drums the way that I wanted it to be. Daryl said that I would pretty much need to be at the recording studio. I said game on!! That is the ONLY reason that I ended up in Nashville. I’m so thankful for my stubbornness on this point. Without it I would have missed out on some of the most wonderful moments of my life.

Daryl gave me contact information for a gentleman in Nashville by the name of Buddy Hyatt. I began to correspond with him to find out some of the pertinent information that was necessary to follow through with the recording session.

The dates were set. I was to fly To Nashville on April 25, 2013 and my first meeting with Buddy Hyatt was booked for Apr. 29. I asked Hazel Wiens if she would like to accompany me. Well yes she would and her husband wanted to come as well. Perfect. We would let Ivan do all the driving! That is one task I was not looking forward to. I don’t mind driving but I just didn’t know how big the city was and how crazy the traffic might be. It was a huge load off of my mind knowing that Ivan would be doing the driving.

The big day arrived and the three of us boarded our flight in Saskatoon. About half an hour into the flight I had overwhelming feelings start to wash over me. One could call it a panic attack. Who was I to actually believe that I was a songwriter?!! These professional musicians will probably think that I am crazy and they may even snicker at my songs. Suck it up buttercup!! It was a bit too late to turn around.

We landed and made our way to the hotel. We made a trial run to find Buddy’s address first as we wanted to be sure we didn’t miss the very important first meeting. Three days to be tourists. We had time to toodle around and saw places like Dollywood and The Museum of Country Music. We took in a show at The Opry and were able to see The Oak Ridge Boys at Trinity Broadcasting.

April 29 came quickly and we drove to Buddy Hyatt’s house for our appointment. When we entered there was much commotion going on. Heavy rains had flooded buddy’s brand new studio!! A few big fans were blowing and he had moved his keyboard to his living room. We sat and worked on the eight songs that I wanted to record. So interesting to watch professionals do what they do. I was pretty intimidated. Oh heck…I was very intimidated. Hardly said boo. The Nashville numbering charts were written up by Buddy and the next step would be to go into the recording studio the following day.

The time set for my recording session was 10:00. We arrived early at The Tracking Room. There is a large lounge area but most people were sitting on two couches at the back of the room behind the engineer and the console. There is a large glass window where one can watch the goings on. In one large room you can see all instruments that are not acoustic. For my songs these were the drums, electric guitar, bass guitar and steel guitar. Off of the main room there are four or five smaller rooms. These are for acoustic instruments, keyboard and vocals.

Oh dear Lord it is my turn now!!

Buddy introduced me to all of the musicians. When he introduced me to Garth Justice, the drummer, I mentioned to him that I did not want loud drums on any of my tracks. I remember him saying “I promise I will play the drums as gently as I can” – he must have thought I was a crazy lady!

Each musician is handed a copy of the chart for the one song that is going to be worked on. They are given an idea as to how the song goes either by listening to an audio clip or by the performer/writer singing some of the song. I did have some audio clips so for the first two songs we used those as a guideline. After listening to a sample of the song all of the musicians go in to their respective rooms and then absolutely amaze me with their talents. My head was spinning and I was so out of my comfort zone. I did go into a sound booth and sing along to some of the songs. That was a very unnerving experience. Some of the time my voice was there and some of the time I could have cried.

It only took two and one half hours for them to finish all eight songs! It was a whirlwind. My tracks were handed to me and we were out the door.

We flew back to Saskatoon on May 1. Now the work of finishing the CD would begin.