With all the connections between celebrities and politicians this election cycle, singer-songwriter Laura Vecchione has written a song Tell’ Em About The Dream that tributes Martin Luther King Jr. and relates to President Elect Barack Obama. The song also focuses on American history and is the perfect piece for the country’s current times. Vecchione talks about the song and how another famous singer impacted her.
Listen to the Laura Vecchione CYInterview:
(Backup Player: Including IE)
Listen to Tell’ Them About The Dream
(Backup Player: Including IE)
Chris Yandek: Why don’t you introduce yourself for anyone who might not be familiar with your work and who you are as a person?
Laura Veccihone: “My name is Laura Vecchione and they can read more about me on the website, which is www.lauravmusic.com. I have two CDs under my belt. I have a brand new CD and this new song we’re going to talk about isn’t on either CD. It was released as a single. It was inspired by the whole Obama campaign. Recently people have been talking about my music and how it is. People say it is music for grownups and I take that as a compliment. I feel like it goes along with some of the things I like to write about.”
CY: Well, besides the fact you were inspired, what were some of the reasons you chose to write and sing Tell’ Em About The Dream?
LV: “It was funny. It came in a moment where I was really busy promoting the new CD and I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to write. I was sitting in New York and watching CNN and watching the day that Obama gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. It was there that I heard the story for the first time. I didn’t know that on the day that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the march on Washington, he intended to keep the tone somber and only talk about the bad checks that America had given Black America. It was on CNN that I heard the story that it was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who called out to King to tell them about the dream Martin cause she had heard him preach on the dream and she encouraged him and that’s why we had the amazing dream speech. That hit me so hard because I am a singer. I am the hugest Mahalia Jackson fan. I listen to her before I recorded my first album every day for my own encouragement.
The idea that it was the voice of a woman encouraging this man of greatness reminded me that everybody needs encouragement to be the best that they are. This idea came to me, tell them about the dream and this voice of encouragement sort of turned into the voice of views that was whispering to Jefferson and Adams about this new country and this idea and had to remind Lincoln to remind us what we were about and try to perfect this dream throughout. That song continues to this moment where she speaks to King and then to the moment now. I recorded it right before the elections saying we’re at this poise, at this moment where we make the decisions about where we are going with our futures. It was all about Mahalia Jackson to tell you the truth.”
CY: What has the response for the song been thus far?
LV: “Well, it wasn’t only the song. It’s funny that I happened to be sitting in my friend Ralph’s apartment. Ralph Modica is a videographer and film editor and he made an amazing video. We put this altogether so fast. John Batiste recorded in New York with me. He’s an unbelievable young piano prodigy from New Orleans. He said yes and brought in his quintet and we recorded and Ralph came in and videotaped. Then I went up to Boston like the next day. We didn’t have a studio. I didn’t know who was gonna sing. I got singers together, my gospel singer friends recorded and then I was flying out to L.A. to visit my sister and Jim Scott who is a multi Grammy winner, engineer who I love. He’s worked with me on my album so he said, ‘Sure. I’ll mix it.’
Ralph made this video and we put all this historical footage and posted it on YouTube and that’s where the responses have really been coming from both the audio and the visual together. I have been overwhelmed by people’s responses. Strangers will write in thank you so much. This is so moving. It made me cry. It gave me goose bumps. It’s much bigger. It’s bigger than I am. It’s kind of like I didn’t write it. I just kind of listened and it came to me and the same thing with Ralph. I’m really encouraged by other people’s responses to the video and the song. It’s been amazing.”
CY: Many celebrities will be performing at the inauguration on Tuesday. What do you think Barrack Obama would think of your song?
LV: “You know? I would love for him to hear it at some point. Clearly I’m on his mailing list, and they keep sending these press releases out of what’s going to happen. There is of course the Martin Luther King Day Celebration and they want to root the event in history, celebrating the moments when our nation has united to face great challenges and prevail. I feel like the song articulates all those things. It alludes to Jefferson and Adams. It alludes to Lincoln and emancipation and Roosevelt. Then Martin Luther King and Mahalia and Obama himself. I would love for any of those artists to hear this and love their feedback or to have them sing it. Only because I know Obama is so inspired by history. I was very lucky to have an amazing American history teacher Roberta Davis in high school. I think that always stayed with me. It’s one of the reasons why I think about these things and write about these things.”
CY: Finally, what is the ultimate goal you want to have as an artist?
LV: “I guess the ultimate goal is to give and receive. When I sing live there is something happens between the audience and me. It’s a very deep sharing. I love recording in the studio, but the more that I’ve been out singing in front of people I love that connection. If I can have that opportunity to share that, that gives back to me, also to work with other artists, other writers who I admire because that’s always just a thrill from an artistic standpoint. Those are my goals.”
Tell’ Em About the Dream will be featured on the Dream On! compilation and charitable website honoring the work and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (www.thedreamcontinued.org). The CD compilation is set for release on Martin Luther King Day, January 18, 2009.
You can find more information about Laura Vecchione at her official website www.lauravmusic.com.