Underneath the heart and soul of any Ray Barnette production lays a wealth of experience. Ray brings that knowledge into every aspect of the recording process. His years as a vocalist and vocal coach allow him to hear and help singers reach for meaning in their performance, that depth of feeling that every artist wants to find and express.
“The technical quality of a voice is achieved through practice, practice, practice. Then, an artist can move past that to find the heart of the song. Move on to the really important thing – conveying the song with deep conviction.” His job as a producer is to help the artist find that moment and capture it on tape. He learned from the best that “a singer is so much more than just the voice. An artist’s job is to reach out to the listener. Great singers communicate. It comes straight from the heart TO the heart.” As studio engineer at the Rock House, Ray was present for those magic moments with the legendary Carl Perkins. “Carl taught me to look for those magical moments and to try to catch that on tape. The technical things are important but secondary to the magic, that almost indefinable quality that makes a recording great.” And he adds with reverence: “That’s something Carl did all his life – create and capture those moments.”
The technical things can only become secondary after years of practice. The secret, as Ray knows, of doing anything well is the years of preparation that then make it look easy. From his early training in Jackson, Tennessee he moved to Nashville where he further honed his skills as vocalist, writer and musician. Writing for production companies and doing national ad campaigns taught him focus, gave him the ability to work under pressure, and to get the job done on schedule. While comfortable under pressure in the studio, he sees the artist’s job as one of finding expression. As he says, “Every artist must strive to find their true voice both technically and emotionally and my goal with any singer will always be to look for the magic that happens as they reach for that truth. I will always encourage my artists to dare to be different, to be unafraid of criticism and to make music that they love….simply for the love of music.”
In his travels through the halls of the music industry, he has developed and maintains relationships with a vast array of talented musicians allowing him to call upon the perfect match for each unique artist and each special project. His years as a musician allow him to find the language to communicate the direction in which any project is going. “Musicians have to know they’re going in the right direction. When you’ve found the words to let them know it’s right, they’ll give 100%. That’s my job, to communicate that direction. It’s hard to find the magic when you’re searching.”
There’s no uncertainty in a Ray Barnette production. With expertise and vision, he guides the work to a seamless conclusion. And how do you know when an album’s finished? “How do you know when you’re in love? You know! You have listened again and again. You get that feeling when you listen – yes, it’s complete. THIS artist has found the truth and I believe.”
"All evidence of the producer falls from view. The heart, soul and essence of the artist remain."