An article from A/C 1993
An article from Warner Brothers
An article from A/C 1993
Beth Nielsen Chapman
Starting out as a singer/songwriter making a somewhat false start in 1979 with a Barry Beckett-produced debut on Capitol, Beth Nielsen Chapman soon became a Nashville-based songwriter composing the songs others made popular, Beth wrote dozens of songs recorded by country hitmakers like Willie Nelson, Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gayle, Waylon Jennings, Kathy Mattea, Don Williams, Pam Tillis, Alabama, Lorrie Morgan and Trisha Yearwood.
Says Beth of her penchant for country music; "I didn't grow up listening to it. I wouldn't have been drawn to it, but I would listen to Hank Williams, and I really started to appreciate how difficult that writing is...to stay simple and say something that means something."
Yet, even if she had been limited to songwriting, Beth Nielsen Chapman's destiny was to make contemporary pop songs.
With her songwriting credentials established in the mid-to late '80s, Chapman was encouraged by the legendary Jim Ed Norman to make a decidedly non-Nashville songwriter album in 1990. That self-titled debut, which Norman produced, became an airplay staple at Adult Contemporary radio for more than a year as four wonderful singles: "Walk this way", "All I have", "I keep coming back to you" and "Life holds on" scored months and months of concerted Adult radio airplay. She was being whispered in critical circles as a modern-day Carole King or Carly Simon.
The Carly Simon similarities are compounded by the fact that she drafted frequent Simon collaborators Paul Samwell-Smith and Frank Filipetti as producers of tracks for both her 1990 debut and her just-released follow-up, You Hold The Key.
Comparisons aside, Chapman's self-titled 1990 debut earned a bountiful volume of airplay as its release in the late summer didn't bring its first significant A/C play until the late spring of '91 when the single "Walk my way" caught broadbased Gavin A/C attention. In the ensuing six months was to become her engraved introduction to Adult radio. That was soon followed by "All I have", which was also adopted as a recurring musical theme by the soap opera, Days Of our Lives.
Now comes her second Reprise album, You Hold The Key, a brilliant collection of songs many I believe will become singles---if not by Beth herself, then for singers-in-search-of-a-song. Whether she would admit it or not, Beth Nielsen Chapman is songwriting powerhouse. The variety of moods and attitudes exhibited in her albums defy simple description. Suffice it to say her themes of love in the context of reality put her in an adult, thinking-person's camp, area codes away from the drivel of mere pop.
An article from Warner Brothers after the release of You Hold The Key:
Beth Nielsen Chapman (7/6/1993)
"There are lies in the smiles of innocence
There are blooms in walls of stone...
Fast asleep in the dawn of ages
The soul of every child has waited to be born a stranger
Born a dancer to the drum"
"I am always interested in the contrast of things," states Beth Nielsen Chapman, concerning the artistic sensibility behind her second Reprise album You Hold The Key. "It seems to me that the truth lies where shadow and light meet, and that is a theme that goes through most of my music."
As in her self-titled Reprise debut, Chapman addresses life, love and relationships with depth, sensitivity and compassion. The stories she tells and the messages she brings are, at the same time, both personal and universal. "As happy as I was with the first album, I feel that I've definitely grown as an artist on this effort," enthuses Chapman. "Thematically, You Hold The Key is an extension of the topics I addressed on my Reprise debut, while musically achieving a little more of an edge." From the insistent drive of 'I don't know', to 'Dancer to the drum' the album is philosophical closer, You Hold The Key showcases Chapman's considerable melodic and lyrical vision. Stylistically, You Hold The Key draws from spirited pop rock and classic balladry, to sexy R&B flavored love songs and heartfelt hymns.
Chapman's musical eclecticism found its roots in her childhood, growing up in an Air Force family. Her experiences with many different cultures helped to feed her appreciation and sense of wonder for life's many contrasts. During those developmental years, Chapman grew to appreciate the compositional richness of greats like Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, as well as soaking the sounds of Sixties R&B and The Beatles.
It was the advent of the early seventies singer/songwriter movement that sparked Chapman's desire to express herself as a writer. Through the sounds of Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Carole King and James Taylor, Chapman defined her artistic voice. As a result of various good fortunes in the Muscle Shoals music community, Chapman recorded her first album, Hearing It First, in 1980. Though the album (which was produced by the legendary Barry Beckett) achieved little commercial success, it helped establish Chapman as an artist to watch.
After Hearing It First, Chapman took time off to devote her energies to raising a family, honing her musical skills and expanding her tastes by absorbing the work of artists such as Hank Williams Sr., Emmylou Harris, John Prine and Willie Nelson. Encouragement from family, friends and music industry professionals helped Chapman re-locate to Nashville in 1985. Shortly thereafter, Chapman began to write what would become a string of substantial song cuts for a widely contrasting range of artists, from the gritty country of Waylon Jennings to the jazzy cabaret of Ute Lemper. Along the way, Chapman scored four #1 hits (Willie Nelson, Tanya Tucker, Lorrie Morgan, Alabama), along with dozens of hit singles and album cuts.
In the spirit of contrast, Chapman continued to create compositions that were unique to her own voice as an artist. In 1988, Chapman's talents came to the attention of Jim Ed Norman, president of Warner/Reprise Nashville and producer of many great pop and country records. Norman understood that Chapman's artistic potential lay beyond the realm of the country music world, signing her to Reprise and producing her 1990 pop debut Beth Nielsen Chapman. That album spawned four Top Twenty AC hits, three of which went Top Ten.
For her follow-up, You Hold The Key, Chapman recorded in Los Angeles, Nashville, New York and England, working with producers Jim Ed Norman, Frank Filipetti and Paul Samwell-Smith. You Hold The Key features a duet with blue-eyed soul singer Paul Carrack ('In the time it takes'), as well as incorporating The London Chamber Orchestra and The London Trinity Boys Choir for 'Faithful heart', which was recorded during her Abbey Road sessions.
You Hold The Key contains the same elements that generated so much chart success for Chapman and the artists who cut her songs: memorable melodies and thoughtful lyrical sentiment. "In writing love songs, I've always strived to create material that says 'I love you' in a fresh way", remarks Chapman. "There are a few tracks on this album that are very special to me in that way, particularly 'Dance with me slow', 'When I feel this way' and 'The moment you were mine.'"
On You Hold The Key, Chapman explores the contrast that exists within relationships with thought provoking songs like 'Rage on rage' (a portrait of an abusive marriage) and 'Say It To Me Now', a cry for honesty and connection. "In a romantic relationship, the best thing you can do is to be open and vulnerable to someone you love," explains Chapman. "That is where you find all the sparks. It's the place where all the best things and the worst things can happen, where the greatest joy and pain are experienced. After all, that is where the truth lies."
It's those contrasts between light and dark that make You Hold The Key Chapman's finest work to date.
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Made by J.A.D. van Renesse van Duivenbode (Alex)
The Netherlands, Europe
you can E-mail me at: jad @ bart.nl