all began for
ministries have come out of the Academy and that has been such an
important part of our role in the community. The Academy has been
blessed to have such an effect, not only locally, but worldwide through
powerful endeavors like the Lullaby for Columbine Project, which has
transformed many lives."
A Lampa tune echoed from the rear of the studio as the jovial voice of
the "born-again" veteran instructor dressed in blue jeans and a striped
western shirt revealed his story.
"Rachael’s career actually did start with Columbine," Scott opened. "It’s just proof again that, although terrible things happen with all of us in our daily lives, God uses these things in some way to glorify His name, and that’s always pretty spectacular!
He pondered for a moment and continued, "It all began with artist and co-writer Sydney Hostetler who is one of the teachers here at the Academy. Shortly after the shooting occurred, she raced in and told us what had happened at Columbine High School. Of course, we were all absolutely horrified about the whole thing and turned on the TV to monitor the latest developments. Our students and staff began to cry as they learned about it. It had such an emotional impact that songwriter Cindy Marotta and others here at the Academy right away began to work on a song, because music is how we (songwriters) express from our hearts. It just started out as a personal healing thing."
To his surprise later that day, the writers approached Scott with a nearly completed song, which greatly moved him. He had contacted local producer and artist Taylor Mesple, formerly of the group "Wind Machine", to add his review the song as possible vehicle to bring healing to many who were hurting in the Denver community at that time. Before long, others became passionately involved like guitarist Robby Rovira, who also use to teach at the Academy.
Soon thereafter, they began creating tracks in the Academy’s demo studio working out chords and melody lines with Mesple and Hostetler doing the lead vocals and Marotta and others helping out with the backup tracks.
"These sort of things are Taylor’s forte." Scott said. "When Cindy, Taylor and I listened to the initial tracks, we realized is that it was a great song not yet of the quality it needed to be if we really wanted to do something with it. So, we approached Taylor on re-recording the song at his studio where a master quality job could be done."
The songwriters and artists, including one who wished to remain anonymous, were just following their heart’s need to express grief and find tranquility during a tumultuous time. Sensing how well the song was coming together, though, Mesple recognized the commercial potential of the song and its capability to bring healing.
Over the next several days, they labored in his studio laying new tracks for the song with the original lead vocals being done by him and Hostetler. Everyone was very pleased upon completion of the new recording and they immediately made CD copies of it and approached several Denver area radio stations including Christian station, then KWBI, where it received some airplay.
the same time on the other side of the local musical universe, another
CD project was already underway; the Lullaby for Columbine Project, which
had begun a search for additional talent to add to their CD in an attempt
to bring together Columbine inspired musical endeavors that had begun
In passing, a close friend and colleague, Jim Lawser, handed me a cassette of a Columbine tribute song he heard performed at his church by an assistant pastor named Brad Richardson. What happened shortly thereafter is another story, but what resulted was LFC’s acquisition of "A Colorado Columbine", which eventually found its place as the second cut on the CD, which I had the privilege to also do the electronic orchestral arrangements on.
While working out final negotiations with Brad on including his tune on the CD, he spoke of another song that had been receiving some airplay that several local Christian artists had put together. He provided me a contact and within several days, I met with Cindy Marotta, one of the co-writers of the song "We Will Always Remember", who eventually joined our board of directors. Enthusiastically, she provided some background on how the song was created and on the people who worked on it and then gave me a CD copy of the song. On the way home after our meeting, I played it in my car and began to cry over the song’s profound sense of hope and healing. Its production value was impeccable and it clearly displayed a strong, and much needed, market potential.
We had been spending time at what was then the National Digital Television Center in Littleton working on several other songs that had also become a part of our compilation CD. During one our recording sessions, engineer Bruce C. Marshall and myself reviewed the song. Upon several listenings, Bruce expressed some technical concerns he had about some of the vocal tracks and suggested that I might address them with Marotta.
days later, Marotta and I met again along with Mesple and Martin to address
Bruce’s concerns. Everyone was excited about including the song on our
CD and was passionate not only in just getting it on our CD, but in doing
the best job possible with the presentation of the song. I mentioned how
their song possessed a lot of the same anthemic qualities of the 80’s
USA for Africa hit
"We Are The World". After several ideas had been tossed around,
a "lightbulb" went on in Mesple’s head. He suggested that adding two more
voices might be the missing piece the song needed and recommended adding
Earth, Wind and Fire vocalist Winston Ford and an incredibly talented
young "diva" named Rachael Lampa he was working on a demo for with the
Academy's Stuart Whitmore, Lampa’s primary vocal coach at the time.
"Rachael had that new pop sound that Mariah Carey introduced. Rachael could do all those same kind of riff things and have the same feeling that we felt the song would really benefit from." recalls Scott. "With Winston also having already been out in the pop market, they felt their contrasting voices would work well and they decided to re-recorded it adding both of their voices to the mix."
Creatively working with the existing tracks that he and Hostetler had already laid, Mesple mixed the song into a seamless blend of all the voices harmonizing beautifully together yet providing places in the song for each artist to shine with their own lead part. We again met a couple of days later and Mesple gave me a final mix of the tune along with the original versions. I rushed back to my home studio and auditioned all of the material and was stinned at the power of their final mix. Soon after, others on our board heard the tune and agreed that it was outstanding and had strong potential as a musical anchor for the rest of the CD.
Many of our staff suggested that the CD open with the title cut, "Lullaby for Columbine", but from a purely marketing standpoint, I strongly felt that this song had much greater potential for stimulating people’s interest in buying the CD and so we agreed to make it our "flagship" song. It also became the primary tool that would launch the career of the young "diva" Mesple spoke so highly of.
Scott recalled what happened next. "Every summer, the Gospel Music Association holds an event up in Estes Park called ‘Praise in the Rockies’. It is a weeklong concert series featuring Christian talent. There is also a segment called "Café Estes" that features a competition for artists and songwriters. Interestingly enough, Rachael wasn’t signed up to even showcase for the event. As it turned out, Taylor had an evening where he was showcasing some new talent and invited Rachael and her mom to come up. With the "Columbine" CD in hand, Taylor approached Danny Meeker who was in charge of lining up performers for the event. Meeker listened to the song and was immediately impressed and wanted to hear more of her and finally arranged to have Rachael sing."
has such a play in all of this. What’s so neat is that the Academy
has fifty-six singing ministries out of here. Rachael and Stacie,
are just two of them!"
this point on, the world knows the rest of the story as, two days later,
Rachael performed on the same stage that, at that time, Amy Grant and
Michael W Smith just walked off of. In the audience was Word Records producer
Brent Bourgeois who was ecstatic over her performance. Among several other
producers who also approached her, over several days that followed, she
ultimately signed a million-dollar contract with Bourgeois and her professional
career was launched.
"If Sydney, Cindy the other writers hadn’t written the song and Taylor hadn’t recorded it, none of this would have triggered the event for Rachael to be discovered." Martin adds. "So it was actually the Columbine CD and its ‘specialness’ and healing powers that catapulted that whole event to even push it up to the Estes thing. And isn’t it strange, like God’s orchestration always seems to be, that these things all just fell into place without us knowing anything about how it was going to come out. It just happened that way. It wasn’t like it was a planned step such as, ‘Now, we need to show this CD to somebody so that Rachael can be discovered’. No, it wasn’t done that way. It was done by the fluke of Rachael showing up, and Taylor and everyone else doing what they did and having the "Columbine" CD in his hands while he was running one of the showcases up at Estes. How could you plan all of those events to come together? It was just totally a ‘God thing’ spawned by the Columbine tragedy."
Scott is also very proud of the other great talent that has come from his school. In fact, nearly half of the talent that appeared on the Lullaby for Columbine CD are students of the Academy.
"God has such a play in all of this. What’s so neat is that the Academy has fifty-six singing ministries out of here. Rachael and Stacie, are just two of them! We have Shauna Chanda and Karre Ann Wakefield, we have a Christian rock group, and we have Nick and Rhonda Walmer who tour around the whole country doing concerts night after night. I could go on and on. They’re not as well known and get the kind of radioplay and TV coverage that Rachael and Stacie get, but their musical contributions too have a powerful impact on the world."
It’s interesting to also note that nearly half of the talent on the Lullaby for Columbine CD was comprised of Academy students which include Brad Richardson and Janet Mayhue-Choyce who also are on the CD. Scott sums it up best...
"Many ministries have come out of the Academy and that has been such an important part of our role in the community. The Academy has been blessed to have such an effect, not only locally, but worldwide through powerful endeavors like the Lullaby for Columbine Project, which has transformed many lives."
The Academy of the Arts is located in Denver, Colorado and has long been synonymous with its founder and director, Dr. L. Scott Martin, or “Dr. Scott” as he is often called. The Academy has grown over the years from a small one-man basement operation to a thriving school with 18 self-employed teachers and hundreds of students locally, around the United States and across the world. The Academy is now known for its top-quality training techniques in voice and performance that has allowed several individuals to achieve their dream of a professional vocal performance career.
Of its many students, Scott has coached well over 200 national and local album projects, many of which have been “late night – locked door sessions” for major stars, (whom legally we are not at liberty to name). Scott and the staff of the Academy has also coached the likes of Glen Campbell, BeBe & CeCe Winans, and most recently, Dove Award nominees, Rachael Lampa and Stacie Orrico. The Academy works with all genres of musical styles and taste, and has had a significant impact in the training and development of Christian singers and musicians.
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