Take Five with Vangie Gunn

0
597
Photo by Maria Marriott

I’m a session singer, songwriter, LIVE singer, touring singer, vocal director, arranger, and more who brings energy, purpose, and fun to everything I work on! After years and years of singing on movies, TV shows, video games, and other artists’ albums, I’m currently working on my FIRST solo project with Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Gordon Goodwin.

While my debut album is releasing later in 2022, I can currently be heard on The Reset and The Gordian Knot, two acclaimed albums by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band; in beloved shows Family Guy and Phineas & Ferb; in the iconic game franchise World of Warcraft; and am excited to share that I’m a featured soloist on the new movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home which hits theaters December 17th.

Tell us a little about your musical background; how old were you when you started playing guitar, and what inspired your musical desire?

I was born into a gospel musical family. Literally, I sang on stage at church at age four, singing “Jesus Loves Me,” and I was HOOKED! That was it! I wanted to sing and bring joy to all that listened to me. My mom was and is still one of the finest pianists on the face of the earth. She was my first influence. When I was little, she had a band, and I asked her if I could sing backups for her. With a little chuckle, she told me, “There is going to be a day when I beg you to sing with YOU!”. LOL! She was right. I’ve taken her legacy and talent and have succeeded in areas that were not available to her back then. Thanks, Mom!

At a young age, I leaned towards the R&B/Gospel/Funk/Jazz genres. I loved and still love Andraé Crouch, Earth Wind and Fire, Seawind, Chaka Khan, SOS Band, Heart, Gino Vannelli, Manhattan Transfer, Al Jarreau, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Teena Marie, and Michael McDonald, to name a few.

I learned early to find the pocket, the “hump” of the song, and settle into the groove. I also learned from listening to Janis Siegel and Chaka Khan to NAIL pitch no matter where it lands in my voice, whether belting, classical, breathy, or rock. My voice is an instrument. I take care of it on a daily basis to make sure it can execute whatever vocal demands are required of me. In the last five to eight years, those expectations and demands have increased greatly, so keeping in pristine vocal shape is a top priority for me.

Where do you find the inspiration for your music?

Currently, I listen to Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, who I sing with, as melody is king for him. He has a huge library of music that I am analyzing as a songwriter and arranger. I also devour Dirty Loops, Snarky Puppy, and Take 6 while revisiting my lifelong influences listed above. For me, melody and strong vocals are most important, but I want each song to have musical integrity, a life, a journey, a climax, an emotional path, and feed experiences for every listener. It’s a tall order.

What is your songwriting process?

I don’t have a specific process. I try to write a bit every week, but most of the time, it is either inspiration or a deadline. I was sent a piano track and melody a while back through email when I was on a hike. I had to stop when listening to it because I was overcome with emotion and began crying. I asked if I could write a lyric. It took me one day to write it with little to no revisions. THAT is called inspiration. I desperately wish I could always write that way, but it just isn’t the case.

So, I celebrate when that inspiration happens, and then I dig in for the reality and hard work of most of my songwriting. Right now, I have two songs that I have been laboring over for several months. I was just told that they need to be done by the end of the year, so guess what… I have to be deliberate and educated in my writing to create a GREAT song and to just get it done. Do I wish every song was emotionally inspired? YES! But the reality is that inspiration happens about every four to six songs. The rest, I have to rely on what I know works, my experience and education, partnering with my co-writer and arranger, and thinking about my audience. It’s a balance of staying true to myself and finding commercial value, which is every artist’s journey!

Whats your go-to guitar for songwriting?

Piano all the way, and yet sometimes while I am driving or running or out and about, the lyrics and melody just come to me, so I quickly grab my iPhone and record into Voice Memos.

When I am “working” on songwriting, it is with the piano or a melody that has been given to me. When I am “inspired,” it comes at any moment, in any location, and MUST be recorded instantly. Songwriting is an interesting beast as an artist—each song HAS to have meaning and purpose. I cannot force it even when researching lyrically. There is always something fresh and inspired that is birthed from me as a writer. I honestly wish it was easier, but my songs share a piece of my heart, soul, and experience, so it takes a bit before I’m ok to let the world hear it.

Music to me is…

LIFE

I cannot BE without music. Music is my DNA. Music is what I was born with. I do not exist without music.

ALSO, music reaches the soul, changes the heart, and heals the spirit of the listener. My desire and hope are that everything I write, everything I sing, and everything I do in life impacts people, makes a difference, saves souls, and encourages growth. There is no limit to what music can do for the human race, and I hope to continue to be part of that transformation.

Connect with Vangie Gunn

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  INSTAGRAM  |  TWITTER

IK Multimedia's Fender Collection 2