An Interview with Gordon Bahary

Jan.s:  Gordon, you've been inspired by and collaborated with some of the most gifted popular singers/musicians of this century: Stevie Wonder, Harry Chapin, Herbie Hancock to name a few.

Gordon: When I look back, it looks like a dream. I didn't have the shame or  embarrassment I would have today to approach these great artists. At 15, you still haven't put limits on yourself, and those artists felt that. 

They were generous, patient, and amazing to watch in action. Stevie Wonder would be playing around on a keyboard talking to me, while I'd mix his tea and honey; meanwhile he was writing
"Isn't She Lovely" casually. I had no idea what he was actually creating...

The problem was returning to high school for a few weeks every year or so, and going back to reality after being with these giants. It was surreal and unbearable.

Jan.s:  Gordon, a beautiful dream come to realization!   

Gordon:  Yes. We met at Crystal Studios, in L.A. It's where WAR and other great groups recorded, and where most of "Songs in the Key of Life" was recorded. I was afraid to leave the lobby and go into the studio. The door kept opening with engineers coming and going. I would get a loud blast of air and sound of "Isn't She Lovely" the song Stevie was singing in the booth. 

After waiting shy in that chair, for 8 hours, the session was over and I had a lump in my throat. Greg Phillinganes, the keyboard player for Stevie, said, "Ok, we're all leaving. Hey, weren't you here in the morning? Who are you waiting for?" I said "Stevie." He said, "Oh man, why didn't you say something. 
Are you Gordon? He's been waiting for you all day, and was concerned. Come here!" He pulled me by the arm into the control room.

It was Stevie and me, as everyone went home. It was quiet. I guided his fingers on the equipment I built for him, and described the colors as "blue for cool" and "Red for hot" and he smiled and seemed touched. I showed him how to make sounds himself without anyone's help. 

 We stayed there almost all night. He screamed to his assistant, "Stephanie, come here! This kid can make a harmonica sound on a synthesizer! Come here! Steph!!". 

Jan.s: You've recently released your CD, 'Unbreakable'. I'm wondering if the title could refer to your ethos on life? Would you like to share with us how 'Unbreakable' began?

Gordon: Writing and recording the album was a healing for me; a place to go each day and wear my heart out on my sleeve. The song "Unbreakable" was about a great relationship between two people who truly love one another. But as the album progressed over several months, and some adversity set in, the word took another meaning, and I named the album the same. During the recording of the album, I was presented with challenges that tested my faith; faith that love and forgiveness are still the best road - no matter what has been done to a person. To me, that's what's unbreakable in me now, or at least I'm working on it. 

When I started the album, I was very breakable; by track 16, I wasn't. I learned this from my grandmother and mother, who taught us to be "very patient" and that love would always survive all else. It's true!

"After playing songs each day for one another, and exploring the world of sound, Wonder asked Bahary to collaborate on his follow-up album, "Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants" (containing the song “Send One Your Love”). These recordings took place in L.A. and in Bogalusa, Louisiana at Studio in the Country. This was the soundtrack for the Paramount Studios motion picture of the same name. There is short video footage of Bahary and Wonder at these sessions on YouTube (type: "Stevie Wonder Secret")" (excerpt from Gordon Bahary's biog on MySpace'.
A big thank you Gordon for your great generosity of spirit and sharing.

Photos & images: Courtesy & copyright of Gordon Bahary 2010 except for Journey of the Secret Life of Plants' cover.


Carol Willoughby said…

Jan - Thanks for capturing the essence of the remarkable journey of singer/songwriter Gordon Bahary. Through his wide range of original and breathtaking compositions, Gordon shares his light, love, heartbreak, faith and deeply spiritual quest with the world. His voice is fresh, magical, soulful, enchanting, delicious . . . inspiring us with messages that feel heaven sent. Is this not what we ALL need today? THIS majestic star is rising!
gleegirloz said…
I love the ethos of "Unbreakable" explained.Another fine blog Jan.Now I'm off to listen to more of this remarkable man!

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