In celebration of Shakespeare’s magical prose, I have taken his words and combined them with my music to create 13 new songs. As an actress I have always been inspired by Shakespeare’s words because of the universal truths they tap into about being a human. As a songwriter I draw on my experiences to tell deeply personal stories, and while working with Shakespeare’s lyrics I found myself connecting to them as my own stories.
How did this project start?
I was commissioned by NYC's Drilling Company to compose music for their production of As You Like It in the summer of 2016. I sat down with the first song Shakespeare had written in As You Like It and I remember reading out its first lyric, “Under the Greenwood Tree, who loves to lie with me?" I looked out the window of my apartment at all the stone, the brick, and the sad, brave plant living on my windowsill and thought, “I wanna go there. I want to be under the Greenwood Tree.”
I grabbed my guitar and as I explored the rest of the song, I was surprised by how intimate it felt. “Come hither, come hither, come hither,” the lyric seduced me closer. “Who doth ambition shun?” What struggling artist doesn’t know what it is for ambitions to turn their backs on her? And finally, “Here shall he see no enemy but winter and rough weather.” And I felt what relief it would be to have no dark forces to contend with but the wind.
The next summer, I became the musical director and composer on The Tempest. Through that run, I met Michael Chorney who helped arrange the songs for The Tempest which was performed in Bryant Park. When the run was over I realized that I had an album of songs on my hands, I asked Michael to produce and he said yes!
One song after the next, I found that these words spoke to me directly. There was nothing archaic about them at all. In fact, the words and subjects felt as current as ever. They speak to societal divides, clashing ideologies, the fight to be heard and believed, and the struggle to be free of men with too much power and not enough empathy. Because the language can be a barrier, placing the songs in the context of modern singer-songwriter music is a great way to open a door to understanding it.
What we have so far
The songs have all been written, studio booked, and musicians gathered. The only thing we need is funds.
"Ca-caliban", song from The Tempest.
"The Cry", song using Miranda's words from The Tempest.
Recording an album can be expensive, but with a little help from our friends we can keep the costs pretty low. Here is a list of what we need the money for:
producer fee - $2500
4 full days recording - $ 1500
3 musicians, $250 a day - $3000
overdubs - $400
hospitality (food, bev. etc) - $300
travel - $300
kickstarter fee - $400
Natalie Smith is an actor and singer-songwriter. As a song-writer she has performed extensively in and around NYC, showcasing her original music in solo and band settings. Her album, Take My Piano, can be found on iTunes and Spotify. In October 2017, Natalie was awarded a composers residency at the Millay Colony, an artists residency program in Upstate New York, where she worked on completing the music and the book for her original musical slated to go into production in 2018. Natalie was commissioned by the Drilling Company in New York City to compose a musical adaptation of The Tempest. She played Ariel and wrote all the songs for the production, which was performed in Bryant Park in August and September of 2017.
As an actor Natalie trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Natalie appeared in the Tony award-winning Broadway show, One Man Two Guvnors, starring James Corden. In 2016 Natalie starred in a short film, Beautiful Dreamer, which won best film at the New York Short Film Festival and was an official selection of both Utopia Film Festival and Dances with Films. In June of 2017, Natalie filmed an episode of the Hulu original series Looming Tower, starring Jeff Daniels and will be appearing in the fall as a recurring character in an upcoming Netflix series.
Michael Chorney is a composer, guitarist, saxophonist, producer, sideman and band-leader. His own groups feature original music; Hollar General, viperHouse, the MC6, and Orchid. As an arranger he has worked most prominently on Hadestown in collaboration with Anais Mitchell with whom he has also done many tours. As a producer he has worked with Anais Mitchell, David Moss, Iain Morrison, Adrian Roye, Round Mountain, Seth Eames, the Dupont Brothers, Maryse Smith and many others.
A special thanks to Stephen Pilkington, Nicole Johnson, and Madeline Rhodes for helping me to film and edit video. And to all the other beautiful folks for their feedback and encouragement.
Risks and challenges
The only risks or challenges I can foresee in making this album might be in fulfilling deadlines when it comes to the mastering and production of the cd's. Everyone involved in the production of the actual music is on board and scheduled to go at the end of May. If, for whatever reason, the September goal of releasing the album and having our concert is held back by availability of an engineer to master the tracks, I can't imagine it would be more than a month or so. Michael Chorney, as producer, has extensive experience in completing musical projects and I myself have already recorded and released an album, so we are more than prepared to overcome these challenges.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)