So we had the wonderful pleasure of catching up with the critically-acclaimed Broadway performer and music producer, Helen Welch. In addition, we didn’t want to miss out on insight from her band Anthony Taddeo, Bryan Thomas, and Joe Leaman. This is what she told us!
UNPLUGGED: With 5 albums completed, an awesome reputation in the UK and Broadway, how does it feel to travel and perform with this dynamic team of musicians?
HELEN: Oh my goodness! We really shouldn’t be getting paid for what we do because we have way too much fun!
ANTHONY: Just don’t tell Tony that! (laughing)
HELEN: Don’t tell anyone that! (Laughing) I tell you what’s really special. We all have the same goal in mind. That goal is to constantly tweek and tweek our music to perfection. It’s a constant and it’s never ending but we make it better and better. Just doing any old thing isn’t good enough for us. We have three world class musicians so it make the music experience easy and so much fun.
UNPLUGGED: How long did it take to build this team and create this chemistry?
HELEN: Hmm…it’s been the course of maybe 10 to 12years. Bryan and I were the first two, then came joe, who’s been with us for 9 years.
BRYAN: This group came out of an evolution of other piano players and ensembles. Eventually, over time, we found musicians with the same mindset. Some were available, then unavailable but eventually we found the right mix with the right focus of how we wanted to craft this music. Slowly, we evolved into this group where we have the same mind on where we want to put the music.
UNPLUGGED: So what is it like working with Helen?
BRYAN: The great part about working with Helen is that she takes her music seriously. What’s really fun is that you can play with Helen like you play with a musician. Musically, you can dialogue about an arrangement one musician to the next and both of you get it. Musicians can’t always do that with vocalist but you can with Helen. Some singers need the music to progress a certain way which limits the flexibility and impromptu creativity of the music. Helen is adjustable and lives in the moment so the music is alive and ever changing. So this group has been put together towards that end. 2.50
UNPLUGGED: What drives the passion you have in your music?
HELEN: Wow, that’s a loaded question. I was just talking to Bryan because we’re working on our Christmas album and if it’s not a 10 out of 10 for me, it’s not happening. I know the music. I know how it goes so if it doesn’t make my hair stand on end, I don’t sing it. It’s got to really hit the button. It must get me excited. Get my adrenaline running. Flip side, an arrangement of a song can change my opinion of it. We never want to copy either.
ANTHONY: To add to that, one of the great things about Helen is she isn’t a dictator. She’s open to our opinions as musicians of a song or an arrangement of a song too. If we see something or hear something, Helen is like “let’s see it” or “let’s figure it out”. It’s quite refreshing actually. Like Bryan said, we’re all invested in this so it makes it so much easier when you have someone like Helen open to various arrangements of music.
UNPLUGGED: What’s next?
HELEN: “Superstar” is the next big project. It’s the songs, the stories of the Carpenters. Richard Carpenter gave me permission to do the show. The reason he did was because we don’t do a cheesy tribute. We are really respecting the music and giving it a little of the 2018 feel but no audience member will go away thinking that it wasn’t the Carpenters. In addition, we’re adding a guitar player for the performances. We’ll be tour this project up until 2019. We have already done performances in March 2018 in Elyria, Ohio. Wherever we go, the show sales out so it’s like everyone guilty pleasure. This is a big project and we’re excited.