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Toni Gibson ~ A New Voice

Toni Gibson
Toni Gibson

Immortal Aria is a bit unusual for a music group.  In fact, we haven’t quite defined what we are yet.  We are not a band in the sense that we don’t perform our music live, neither are we a singing group, yet we write and produce songs that are meant to be recorded.  Although I am a singer, over the years I have not kept my voice in shape while I pursued other artistic passions, therefore, I write songs that require vocalists other than myself.

We decided early on that we wanted to collaborate with undiscovered talent.  Artists who are exceptionally gifted, but who may not have been recorded yet, and who have not yet gained a large following.  This led us to begin searching the web for talent that could give my songs the right heart and voice.

I actually began writing the songs for this CD back in 2006. It has been a slow process, as during the time Nathan and I have been working on the album, I have also been writing and polishing my 3 part novel series-which is the inspiration for all the music our CD contains. Upon composing The Bleeding Rose, I knew I wanted a little girl with a trained voice, so I began searching  youtube for fresh and undiscovered talent.

Along the way I discovered Jackie Evancho‘s channel. At that time she was only 8 years old! As a fan of Phantom of the Opera, I was enchanted by a talent show performance of her singing Wishing You Somehow Here Again. Initially I had intended to contact her parents about the possibility of her recording my song, however, real life intervened and our work on the CD was set aside for a time.

When we were finally ready to work on the project again, by then Jackie had come in second place on AGT-and as they say, the rest is history! She was suddenly swept up and signed by a big label, and I knew she was then out of reach.

I also happened to come across the youtube channel for a darling young lady from New Zealand called Toni Gibson. At the time I was searching for a little girl voice, so although Toni’s was the most remarkable and beautiful voice I had ever heard in my life-she was not a child. But I was enchanted and kept returning to her page to listen to her home made live performance videos, then finally got brave enough to contact her and ask if she would be interested in singing as “my Christine”.

At the time Toni felt the logistics would be difficult, as I am in the US and she is in New Zealand and did not have easy access to a recording studio.  Via emailing back and forth she informed me that she would be unable to record for us, despite the fact that I practically begged her!

I then decided to hold a competition through my website and invited young female vocalists to submit samples of their vocal skills through my email, hoping to find someone of Toni’s quality. I was stunned by all the recordings and youtube videos I received and although I heard some truly beautiful voices-I could not get Toni’s voice out of my head. I wanted her, and only her! So I contacted her again and fortunately we were able to work out the logistics!  She was able to record our material during the sessions for her own CD which was also beginning production.

She agreed to record The Bleeding Rose, and as I continued to write more songs, Toni eventually contracted with us to record two more pieces for the Chanson de l’ange CD.  Nathan and I are very honored to have an artist of Toni’s calibre as one of our collaborators.  We feel that our music and her exceptional vocal talents are a perfect match, and we hope to work with her again in the future.

As I post this article, Toni has just begun the first leg of a New Zealand concert series to promote Echo in my Soul, her debut CD, released in May of this year.  I believe that one day we will see this young lady perform in fully staged concerts; complete with elaborate costumes, special effects and all the theatricality her talent commands.  Like Sarah Brightman, Toni possesses a magical “dark and light” combination that makes her as intriguing to watch as she is beautiful to listen to.  She is truly an artist of the senses.

We invite you to visit Toni’s website to discover for yourself a voice that comes along once in a generation:  Toni  Gibson

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Throwback Thursday~A Musical Passion

In the year 2000 I got a crazy idea to write both the script and songs for a fully staged musical drama entitled YESHUA. It was a wild adventure that began with a small, one act Good Friday presentation at our church, then ballooned into a two and a half hour two act show, complete with sets, dancers, a full choir and lots of bells and whistles (including a 500 year old dried out tree).  We presented YESHUA for 3 consecutive years at a local performing arts center.

My goal in writing this production was to do something different with what we commonly refer to as the Easter story, so I flavored the show with elements of the passion story’s historically Jewish roots through Hebrew dance, authentic Hebrew costumes, and a musical score laced with Jewish melodies.

Early on in the creation of YESHUA, Nathan and I decided that we wanted music to back the entire show, as if it were being presented on film.  More than orchestral accompaniment for all the songs, we wanted scene music that would set the mood, the time and place; music that would enhance the emotional ebb and flow of the story.  As I wrote the script I worked with Nathan on the timing of scenes so that the action would move smoothly from scene to scene, the pace driven by music.  It was, at the time a novel concept, made possible because Nathan was able to create the entire score on his keyboard.  During our work sessions I would read through the scenes aloud, and together we would decide what type of music the scene and dialogue required, how much music there should be, and when to leave blank spaces.

Nathan Allen Pinard
Nathan Allen Pinard hard at work.

Nathan then created CDs that contained all the scene music and song accompaniment.  We began rehearsing with the CD right from the start so the actors could learn their cues and work out the timing of their dialogue, scene changes, and the dramatic flow.  This was especially effective in the trial scene where I required the actors to speak their dialogue in a rapid fire confrontational style.

Going into rehearsal, we were not at all sure how this would work, but the entire cast and crew were thrilled by the result! As the director of the play I was able to get more out of my actors because Nathan’s music is very emotive.  There is gorgeous scene music when Yeshua (Jesus) prays in the garden and when he sings the modern aria I wrote for him.  A suspenseful percussion-heavy score beats behind the trial scene, and the crucifixion scene allowed Nathan to compose the music of tears.

We are happy to share this clip from the crucifixion scene; with music by Nathan Allen Pinard and dialogue by Corey Bretsch and Brian Knapp with Vocals by Bonnie Pinard.  This particular piece of music contains a lot of dark sound and vocal design with a celtic feel at the end, because well-Nathan likes to work outside the box!