The Song & The Story

Like many children raised in the 1950s, Hassie Calhoun studied music and dance, and at an early age discovered that she loved to sing. Her teacher encouraged her to grow her talent, and while auditioning for a place in the Miss Texas pageant, an employee from the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, a character named Henry Berman, heard her sing. In a way that only Hassie knows for sure, Henry lured her to the Sands and the very popular Copa Room, which, at the time, was home to Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.

Hassie befriended and studied with Sinatra’s music director, Julio Villanueva, who encouraged her song writing talent. Her journey through four years of living and working between Vegas and Reno culminated in the song that is featured in the book.  “I Just Can’t Figure it Out” (Hassie’s Song) is the emotional result of a tumultuous and disastrous love affair that will follow her throughout her life.

Pamela Cory wrote the lyrics for Hassie’s Song as part of the text of the book. Pamela also wrote the initial melody, which constituted the first version of the song. After a two-year search for a collaborator to help arrange the song for piano and vocal, Pamela reconnected with Kathy A. Sipe, a keyboardist, composer and arranger, and a former colleague in the cabaret world.  Kathy or KAS, as she is known, sunk her teeth into the first version and made a very valuable contribution to the structure of the song, resulting in the need for more lyrics and then a final piano arrangement.

Given the fact that Pamela lived in Dubai during the collaborative efforts and KAS was in Atlanta, the communication was carried out through email and the occasional Skype conversation. And, to make matters just a little more challenging, Pamela’s charming little Casio keyboard required a lot of use of musical imagination!

The Experience

Hassie’s Song was recorded on March 21, 2011, at The Lab Studios in London. Drew Horley was the sole producer of the three tracks from his master mixing board in the control room. The four members of the band and the vocalist, Cassidy Janson, were neatly tucked into the live sound room for the recording. Thanks to Drew’s professional setup and expert know-how, the song was recorded and mixed (including the band’s set-up and break-down) in just under four hours. You can contact Drew in London on +44 207 622 3332. or email him at drew@thelabstudios.com.

www.thelabstudios.co.uk


At The Lab Studios, the recording booth with bassist Ed Morris, drummer Mike Smith, and music director and instrumental arranger Fraser Skeoch.

 


Vocalist, Cassidy “CJ” Janson, joins the band to record Hassie’s Song

 


Pamela Cory with vocalist Cassidy Janson in the pub after the recording session, all smiles

 

Vocalist CJ and Producer Bryan happy with the work they’ve done

 

To view a PDF of the lyrics please click here.

The Artists

Kathy A. Sipe (KAS)
A professional musician/vocalist, composer/arranger, KAS has worked throughout the industry as a free-lance artist for over 25 years. One of her favorite and most satisfying experiences involved co-writing a pre-Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which was performed in Charlotte, NC, to great acclaim.  KAS has studied with the legendary jazz pianist Johnny Knapp, and through an association with editor/maestro James Curnow, has published several collections of piano offerings and choral works, as well as some specialized teaching methods for piano. KAS is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Fraser Skeoch, Keyboardist/Musical Director/Arranger
Scottish-born Fraser is musician extraordinaire.  He was not only the musical director and keyboardist for the recording session, but also the song’s arranger for the instrumentalists and jazzy rendition of Hassie’s Song.  In his “real” life, Fraser is the Musical Director for The Lion King in London’s West End. Other West End credits include Fosse, West Side Story, Cats, and Jesus Christ Superstar, to name a few. As a composer, Fraser has produced many scores for the concert hall and theater including two operas, one musical, a new score for Copelia for Northern Ballet, and is working on a new work to be premiered at the Tate Modern. As a keyboardist he has played in numerous West End shows and for such great vocalists as Dame Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, and Robbie Williams.

Cassidy “CJ” Janson, Vocalist
A seasoned performer, CJ has appeared in many theater productions in and around London. She recently played the lead role of Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in the London West End production of Avenue Q, and, as stand by, played Elpheba in the original London cast of Wicked. CJ played opposite Neil Patrick Harris in the Mernier Chocolate Factory’s production of Tick Tick Boom. Other credits include Amy in Company, Rusty in the UK tour of Footloose, and the part of June in the workshop of Bridget Jones: The Musical.

Ed Morris, Bassist
Ed has played bass in just about every musical ever presented in London’s West End. His current gigs include playing in a stunning six-piece orchestra for the West End production of End of the Rainbow, a wonderful musical about Judy Garland’s last performances in London, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of Wizard of Oz.

Jamie Talbot, Saxophonist
Jamie is the amazing saxophonist that you hear in Hassie’s Song. His credentials are extensive but his greatest claim to fame for this project was that he worked with Frank Sinatra on one of his European tours. Other artists that have worked with Jamie include Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Diana Ross and Dave Brubeck, to name a few.

Mike Smith, Drummer
Mike has been playing drums since he was 9 years old, and has since hardly missed an opportunity to play with a band, orchestra, or vocalist in the UK for theater, television, and concert tour.  Among many other things, Mike toured with Dame Shirley Bassey around the world including a stop in New York City and Carnegie Hall. He also worked with the cast for the film version of the Broadway musical Nine and appears on the film’s soundtrack recording.

Bryan Kennedy, Producer
Not only is Bryan a very talented actor/performer on stages across the UK, he had the invaluable role as “Producer” for the recording of Hassie’s Song. Bryan organized the actual recording session at The Lab Studios and brought together the wonderful array of talent to ensure that we had the best possible result.