To say that High Fiction is a relatively obscure pop duo that has yet to release a record would be strictly true, but its members — Gary Grundei and Amy Shelley (who, it turns out, is distantly related to the Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein) — have had a pretty atypical career, as far as pop acts go. "We've both been making our living as musicians our entire adult lives," says Grundei, "but we'd never tried to make a pop record, like most people do in their twenties. We've mostly been supporting other people."
In Shelley's case, "supporting other people" means serving as longtime drummer for renowned jazz act Art Lande, particularly in his all-improvisational group Cuddle, and serving as an accompanist in dance classes, where, according to Grundei, "she's developed these skills where she can play the whole kit with her feet and play a bass line on the piano with her left hand, or sometimes she'll play glockenspiel while she's playing kit, or play the ukulele while doing kick and high-hat at the same time. It's pretty cool." Yes, yes, it is.
Grundei's career is even further afield: He's a theater composer for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (his work has been featured at the Kennedy Center) and — perhaps more relevant (or maybe not) — is a choir director for the Wesley Chapel Mosaic Gospel Choir in Boulder and Park Hill United Methodist Church.
It's safe to say, then, that Grundei knows a thing or two about gospel choirs, and he wanted to put that knowledge to use on a big grand finale for "Elvis Has Left the Building," a tune on the band's in-progress, yet-to-be-named debut. So he invited every choir singer he knew — and he knows a lot of them — to show up for a recording session at the Wesley Chapel. Aside from the official choirs, Grundei also hosts a monthly event called "Bar Choir" with GerRee Hinshaw, in which an impromptu group of whoever wants to gathers at Syntax to learn and sing gospel-choir accompaniment to random pop songs like "Blister in the Sun."
The session turnout, though, was disappointing. "We just didn't get that huge gospel-choir sound," Grundei says, "and there are some studio tricks we could have done — doubled the tracks or whatever— but then we thought, how fun would it be to have this virtual choir? We could invite all our friends and fans or whoever wants to to sing along."
That includes you.
Here's how it works: The band has vocal tracks for soprano, tenor and bass posted to its website; anyone who wants in can listen to the track that best suits their range, learn it, record themselves singing along on any kind of device — phone, computer, whatever — and then e-mail the recording via .wav or .mp3 to the band. The band, along with producer Dave Wilton, will work your voice into the final take.
That's it. If you send your name, they'll give you a credit.
"I've got like six tracks so far, and they all sound great," Grundei says, but he'll need many more to get that heavenly sound. The deadline's set for Monday, July 29, but Grundei says the band may extend it, depending on the results. The record will probably come out in the fall. Until then, get out there and make your voice heard.
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