The Joy of Abetting Others
As an author and musician, I’m usually concerned about the humble goods I bring to the cultural marketplace. After I’ve written or recorded, doing the best I can to say whatever it is I’m trying to say, my quotidian worries revolve around selling the wares, earning enough money to have the luxury and privilege of cluttering the artistic bazaar with more of my junk.
When something good happens — a stellar review, an appearance on a best-seller list — I’m happy, because this usually means my license to scribble or croon will be renewed for another year or two, or until the world completely loses interest in my ululations. Recently, however, I’ve watched the increasing success of someone else’s artistic creation on which I had only a supporting role. Curiously, I’m finding that I’m more excited, more thrilled than if it were one of my own inventions.
The new World and Jazz album, “Flippin’ Out,” by the Filipino-American singer Charmaine Clamor, is presently rocketing up the JazzWeek World Music charts. More than 100 radio stations around America — and elsewhere — are playing the groundbreaking record, and throngs of music lovers are discovering this remarkable vocalist and the historic work she’s doing. I’m overjoyed because I’m in love with Charmaine, both as an artist and a person. And, not so parenthetically, I produced the album. What this means is I selected and directed the backing musicians, supervised the recording and mixing of the music, and decided what material would be included and what would be archived. I was in the recording studio for every minute of the process, usually slumped over a soundboard with the engineer. My job was to make the musicians sound their best, to provide them a forum to exercise their genius.
They did. And the results are spectacular.
It has been said once or twice before that “’tis better to give than receive.” As a creative artists myself, I’ve learned with the “Flippin’ Out” experience that sometimes ’tis better to abet the glorious visions of others than to obsess about one’s private ambitions.