Recording an album of great Motown songs for kids presented a challenge from the outset. The Motown Hits For Kids recording process by its very nature would have to be different from how we recorded our two Beatles Hits For Kids children’s music CDs. And since our first focus is always to produce children’s songs of the highest possible quality that are also true to the original recordings, we knew we were in for a difficult task. Luckily the team at Bingo Records was up to the challenge and created an album of Motown hits that sounds as good as any Motown covers album ever put together and that stands as one of the best collections ever of great songs for kids. Here’s how we did it:
The process started with an amazingly talented band: Kevin Hanson on guitar and Erik Johnson on drums were both members of Huffamoose (signed to Interscope records); Kevin continues to write and record with the likes of The Roots and Jill Scott. Erik is an in-demand studio musician and professor of music at Temple University. The bass was handled by the ubiquitous Scott Bricklin. Scott’s multi-instrumental genius is documented elsewhere on this website, but suffice it to say that he plays every instrument on our Beatles records and has been signed to numerous major label recording deals and is a highly sought after studio musician. We find it highly unlikely that you would ever find a more talented house band for a children’s music recording, or any other recording for that matter.
In striving for that authentic Motown sound, we this time recorded in multiple studios. From our primary studio, Music Training Center in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, (www.musictrainingcenter.com) we traveled the globe to the Agumes studio outside of Paris, France. We did not quit until we were satisfied that each song could stand up to comparison with the originals by the likes of Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, and the other great Motown artists.
After recording the basic tracks, we relied on maestro Howie Gordon to chart out the string and horn arrangements, and also to play the keyboard parts. The experience of listening to him play back a Stevie Wonder part note for note is not to be believed. Mike Hood and Pete Johnson then added horns, because you gotta have real horns if you are recording a Motown album.
As always, the incomparable Brian Bricklin (major label recording artist and internationally recognized producer/engineer) was the glue that held this all together. Working the soundboard, plotting out the instrumental and vocal parts, playing additional instruments, engineering, mixing, mastering and most of all, keeping one eye always open to the concern of strict authenticity, Brian was able to craft a children’s music masterpiece.
The music tracks were then brought to life with the efforts of our talented “Bingo Kids.” Each was selected by the Bingo Records team from the many great kids who auditioned, and each added their own soulful take to the record. Phyllis Heitjan, who sang the lead on six of the songs, was only 17 years old when the album was recorded. Her performances are amazingly compelling and soulful. Phyllis is also well on her way as a very promising original recording artist and songwriter. Other lead singers on this CD also include talented teens Marissa Crowe, James Bazik, Alison Anghel and Eric Rudofker, and spirited 10 year-old Samantha Schwartz. James and Eric also are both gifted musicians and recording artists, having recently released terrific independent CDs of original music. Background singing (always crucial in Motown music) was ably performed by all of the above plus: Danielle Gansky, Laura Warren, Andi Belkoff, Sara Lustgarten, Hannah Allanoff and Robert Pellechio, Jr. We also enlisted assistance from Scott Bricklin on “Signed Sealed Delivered,” and Jim Boggia (another internationally accomplished recording artist) who renders a splendid and heartfelt performance on “What’s Going On.”
So there it is. Over a year in creation. From our studios to your stereos. We think we have once again created a children’s record that defines quality and that you and your children can listen to over and over again. We hope you enjoy the product of all the effort described above!