Saturday, December 1, 2007

Michelle Shocked comes to Flashpoint

Michelle Shocked is a remarkably powerful singer/songwriter I've admired since her first major label record Short Sharp Shocked was released in 1987. Late Thursday evening I found out what an engaging and sweet person she is too. Yesterday, Flashpoint Academy was fortunate to witness that power, talent, and thoughtfulness up close and personal in the recording studios and on the directing stage at 28 North Clark.

I’d inquired months ago about the possibility of Michelle coming to FPA to hold a "master-class" of sorts, and just recently received word that she really liked the idea and wanted to explore options. She told us she wanted to record a song purposed specifically for the visit and to shoot footage for a complementary music video that would be uploaded to YouTube, her own site, etc. Needless to say, we were as excited about Michelle coming in as she was about working with the students in such an intimate and experimental way.

Before entering the studios, Michelle talked to the students about her highly-successful, but turbulent career in the music industry, her life-long desire to change social stratification, her devotion to an African-American church in South Central Los Angeles, and what was particularly opportune for Flashpoint students, balancing the creative and technical with commitment, discipline, and passion. She told us the recording and video of A True Story would be the first part of a much larger project she is working on with her finacé and fine artist David Willardson called HEART or HEAR THE ART.

As she rehearsed the framework of the song with the students and staff who served as a rhythm section, it was clear that this was a special moment in the humble beginnings of our small school. By the time she was ripping through lead vocal overdubs with all the heartfelt passion of the genuine gospel singer she is, we were mesmerized.

It was a real treat for the Rec Arts students to be able to record and Film students be able to roll cameras on such a seasoned professional. The resulting recording, video, and archival documentary footage is testament to FPA’s hands-on, immersive learning. The experience and memory is a gift for committing to the ground floor of Ric Landry’s vision.

Thanks to: HAT, Paula Froehle, Mario Christopher, Ric Landry, Peter Hawley, Steven Berger, George Luif, Dan Epstein, Stephanie Nguyen, Dorian Weinzimmer, Scott Lee, Dan Macias, Claire Plowgian, Rachel Landry, Crystal Ryan, and all my Rec Arts students for working so hard to make this happen.

Special thanks to Bernie Mack for being there all along.