Clint Black has been around the music business for many years. With 22 No. 1 hit songs and nine studio albums, in addition to many compilation albums, this country music mega star knows a thing or two about making a hit record.
One of his favorite things to do besides make his own music is to give back to others – not only to charities but also to those artists just starting out. With that giving spirit in mind, he partnered with Chideo.com to hold a Dream Recording Session Contest where new artists had the opportunity to submit a song they wrote for a chance to have Black produce it in a state of the art studio with some of the best studio musicians and equipment in Nashville. In an exclusive interview, CMChat spoke with Black about Chideo, the Dream Recording Session Contest winner Blake Esse, and his passion for raising money for Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder affecting girls.
Chideo.com is an interactive charity broadcast network where celebrities can produce exclusive content for the site in order to drive awareness and raise funds for a specific charity. Black was on board right away.
“Todd Wagner, who started Chideo, came to my house to show me what it was. I got it right away and thought it was fantastic. They asked me to be an Ambassador and help spread the word and any ideas that I had would be welcome.”
Black came up with the Dream Recording Session Contest concept and after about six months of hearing nothing, Chideo finally came back and told him they loved the idea and were ready to launch it.
“They had gone away and developed the idea into something workable and they were back and so off we went to the races.”
Throughout the contest over 400 submissions were made by artists from all over the country. Black was one of several on the selection committee that had to narrow the field down so fans could vote on the final four.
“I’d get an email file with a bunch of mp3s and I would listen and talk it over with a small team of us and pick my favorites and they would be picking their favorites. We would compare notes and together we narrowed it down to about 10. Then we had the difficult task of narrowing it down to four finalists and it was really hard. So many great entries.”
During the initial selection process, Black came up with another idea to help further the exposure of the artists and his charity.
“As we were getting close to narrowing it down, I came up with another idea that we do a finale and do a television special, knowing that’s a tall order, and I just threw it out there. They went away and came back in a lot shorter time frame and said we love it and we’ve figured it out. It was on in almost every market in the country.”
Black wanted to be as surprised as everyone else so he chose not to know the winner until he read it on stage the night of the “Concert for a Cause” TV special.
Listening to all the songs and picking only four to be finalists was a tough job.
“For me, it was based on the composition of the song, the performance of the song and the appeal. So the composition had to be strong, they had to be able to perform it and it had to have an appeal to me, to my sensibilities, to my heart. I wasn’t alone in the choosing, so I felt like we had others who were involved in the process who were choosing based on their own feelings about the song.”
The fan-voted winner was the catchy song “Feels Good Don’t It” by Blake Esse.
“The Blake Esse song was just hooky. It was one of those songs that was just well written. I wasn’t surprised when it won but I wouldn’t have been surprised if any of the others had won. I wish they all could have won.”
Esse won the experience of a lifetime, the chance to have his song produced by the one and only Black. When asked about mentoring new artists Black had this to say.
“I think it’s good to do. I enjoy helping young artists even if it’s just how to get a good mix on stage for yourself to hear the band. I just like helping. For this sort of thing, this was beyond the dreams of if you can do something to help a young artist. You think about teaching them a guitar lick, this was 1,000 times beyond that – hence the name Dream Recording Session. Blake got to go in the studio with musicians that you’re hearing on the radio all the time and an engineer who is top shelf.”
All of this was made possible through Black’s partnership with Chideo. Chideo has come up with a completely unique way to raise awareness for charities.
“It’s the first interactive charity broadcast network. So you can have anything of YouTube quality, iPhone quality, all the way up to a network produced TV show that they can transmit and the fans know that if they want to watch it, they can contribute something. You can go and specifically target the charity that you are interested in or you can go and find artists, athletes or politicians that you love and support the charity they are behind. So we are able to share things for that charity, for that cause, that you won’t see any other way. It’s just not available unless you make a contribution to the charity. We can’t have too many ways to raise money for our causes. So many of them are worthy.”
In Black’s case, his worthy charity is RettSyndrome.org, a cause very close to his heart.
“I lost my niece to Rett Syndrome and I saw my brother Kevin get involved in doing golf tournaments and that sort of thing to raise money. I pitched in and started lending my name to the events. I became the National Chairperson for the Research to Reality Campaign.”
Black spoke passionately about the newest developments and how they have had a recent breakthrough in the research regarding Rett Syndrome.
“There’s hope right on the horizon that they can actually reverse the effects of Rett Syndrome on children.”
Clint Black is a giver and it shows in his ongoing charity efforts and his willingness to mentor new artists as they make their way to the top. To see Blake Esse’s official video for “Feels Good Don’t It,” a special Behind the Scenes Documentary of the Dream Recording Session and to learn more about Rett Syndrome go to Chideo.com.
Blake Esse – Feels Good Don’t It Music Video
Behind the Scenes