Performing is hard.
Whether you're in front of 10,000 people at huge live show or in the booth in front your new high-brow producer, delivering your very best every time you play proves challenging at best. No matter how much talent you have or how much you practice, mistakes are bound to happen.
You know what? I like mistakes. They bring something back to the table that parts of the digital world has taken away:
We as human beings crave it. Marketing companies all over the globe are capitalizing on this concept. Tell me if these pitches seem familiar:
- Real hand spun milkshakes half price after 8
- Try our hand made boots; made with real leather
- Prove to us your not a robot: type in this code to sign up
I'll be first to say that the digital age has largely been a blessing for us musical technicians. The right tools have become so affordable that more artists than ever are putting their music out on the market. On the other hand, the digital age has afforded us some tools that many folks have used the wrong way. Hollywood actors, some of the "best looking" people on the planet, are photoshopped to look more presentable for magazine covers. Thankfully, some have pushed back against this. Why? So people can see their beauty through an authentic lens.
Ok, yea. So this post is about Kari Jobe. Right.
Bethel music released Tides, an incredible album in its own right, this past February. Kari Jobe performs their song "Forever" on her latest live record, Majestic. Check it out:
That just got me amped up all over again. Can you hear the passion in her voice? She kills it!
Why I wrote this post starts at 5:08 in the video where she jumps up the octave for the bridge. Although most of her notes are spot on, there are a few pitchy parts, specifically the "hal" of the "hallelujahs". I'm being super picky, but you can hear the tension and struggle in her voice as she soars into the top of her range.
Most live records nowadays aren't very live. Many of the instruments, especially the vocals, are redone later in the studio. Surprise! With this recording of "Forever", it seems that Kari and her producers chose to keep her live vocal take. On top of that, it seems that no pitch correction software was used to doctor anything up. I'm not saying that these tools don't have a legitimate place in music, but I'm ecstatic Kari's production team chose to not "correct" her voice in those moments. That bridge sticks out to me because the rest of the song is absolute nails in regards to pitch.
A few thousand people experienced that moment with Kari. Due to modern technology, we with an internet connection can catch a glimpse of it by simply clicking a few times. We can hear the authentic struggle in her voice as she's singing at the top of her lungs, screaming out "The Lamb has overcome". Sure, that vocal passage wasn't "technically" perfect, but what her voice conveyed could not have been more fitting for her message in that moment.
Ok, so what can we as musicians take away from this?
I think that choosing to leave some seemingly imperfect things along can preserve the inherent humanity within them. As a mastering engineer, I'm not at all condoning musicians to be lazy or sloppy, but I am urging you as an artist to think twice before programming the drums on your album while there are plenty of creative and talented drummers out there. I understand everyone's on a budget, but I think collaboration, honesty, and raw emotion will bring more life to your next project than any plugin or correction software.
What other ways are you being "more human" in your music? Comment below and let me know.