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Songs For The Poorest Of The Poor

Gospel/Christian artists gather at Abbey Road Studios to support Compassionart.

By PSW Staff May 13, 2008

Danny Duncan In Studio 3 Abbey Road

NILES, IL, May 5, 2008 — An album featuring some of the biggest names in gospel and Christian music will be released this fall, with every dollar earned slated to benefit Compassionart, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world’s poor through income that’s generated by music and works of art.

Written collectively at a retreat this January, the record’s songs were recorded at Abbey Road Studios with Danny Duncan (Bruce Springsteen, Usher, et al.) tracking in legendary studios two and three. Songwriters working at the sessions included Paul Baloche, Stu G of Delirious?, Israel Houghton, Graham Kendrick, Matt Redman, Martin Smith (also of Delirious?), Michael W. Smith, and Chris Tomlin.  Also joining this core group of talent were drummer Dan Needham, bassist Tommy Sims, and guitarist/keyboardist Akil Thompson.

“It was my first time recording at Abbey Road,” says Duncan, whose working credits read like a veritable “Who’s Who” list of every stellar artist imaginable. “I have to admit I went through a little bit of shock every day. It’s a famous place…a historic studio. Aside from its notoriety and legendary status, it’s also one of the best sounding rooms I’ve ever been in.”

Provided with access to one of the world’s foremost collection of high-end microphones while at Abbey Road, Duncan nonetheless brought along a number of selections from his own mic locker, including a pair of large-diaphragm Shure KSM44s, an SM7, a Beta 91, and a contingent of KSM141s.

Used as overheads on Dan Needham’s drum kit, Duncan relied on the KSM44s to capture not just cymbals but an overall sonic image of all the drums. Standing-in as the kick drum mic, Duncan’s Beta 91 beefed-up the low-end with added presence and attack. His KSM141s were put to good use on acoustic guitar and with a Hammond B3 organ at the top of a Leslie cabinet, while the SM7 brought extra crispness and sparkle to high-hat cymbals.

“I could pretty much have used anything I wanted to at Abbey Road,” Duncan admits. “And I did do some experimenting. With Shure, however, there’s a comfort level you just can’t get anywhere else. I brought my Shure gear because I’ve used it in all kinds of studio applications, and I know exactly what it can do and what kind of sound I’m going to get. They are all excellent microphones—you don’t have to explain the quality and reliability, everyone knows it’s always just there.”
Duncan recorded all of his tracks to Pro Tools. Admittedly old school in his approach and technique, he went straight from his preamps into Pro Tools, bypassing the console entirely.

“I like to keep the path simple,” Duncan admits. “Traveling directly from my preamps into Pro Tools, I just monitor back through the console.”

Currently calling Franklin, Tennessee, home, Duncan owns and operates Blue Heaven Studio, and runs a mobile service called Vanguard Recording.

“Just standing and listening to the work in progress on this project was amazing,” he says of his time spent for Compassionart. “The talent, the rooms…it isn’t something you get to experience too often in any career. Combine what we accomplished technically and aesthetically with the charitable nature of the project’s end result, and everyone has something truly good to talk about at the end of the day.”

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