In Life - Debriefed
Luke Garrett

Luke Garrett

Last week, I had the rare privilege of once again recording one of the finest vocal artists in Christian music, after a 15-year hiatus.

I met Luke Garrett in the late 1980s, when he was an upcoming vocal phenom launching his concert career. Back then, he was available to sing the occasional recording session in Dallas. In one of my earliest (if not very first) choral sessions with Luke, he sang the high tenor part on a song that became a standard for church choirs at Christmas – “I Have Seen the Light.”

Over the following decade, Luke and I went on to work on three CDs together as artist and arranger/producer. I found him to be one of the most unique interpreters of a melody and lyric I ever heard. When he sings a song the words come to life in the moment. He has a jazz musician’s gift for interpreting a phrase, so he rarely sings any given line the same way twice in a row.  I still enjoy listening to the projects we recorded together. And that is really saying something.

So to the present — Luke recently contacted me with a most flattering proposal: He wanted to do a new recording featuring a collection of songs all written by me. That is pretty much any songwriter’s dream-come-true. I said “yes” before Luke could change his mind.

Last week, we began the project. We deliberately chose to start quietly. Luke selected four songs that could be interpreted with piano and voice only, leaving room to add some strings later. I put him in the studio with two different terrific pianists that day: Regi Stone, co-writer of three of the songs, and David Hamilton. My favorite recording engineer, Doug Sarrett, made certain everything sounded great. And I sat back and listened. My role as producer that day was pretty much relegated to saying, “Gee, that sounded great.” With talent like that gathered in the studio, a monkey could have done my job.

We plan to follow-up this session in the near future by recording a few more songs, maybe using a rhythm section. Because Luke can pretty much sing anything, one of the hardest parts of this process is determining which songs to record and what approach to take with them. (What a great problem to have, right?)

In the meantime, it was wonderful to be reminded last week why I chose this line of work in the first place. Every now and again, you get to put some crazy-talented folks together in a room and let them do their thing. And it is something to behold.

Showing 8 comments
  • Wes Hannibal
    Reply

    Sounds like a really sweet gig. How we be able to hear any of the pieces? Also just thinking if Luke plans any Christmas pieces and is a jazz guy, how cool would “This Night” sound!? Just sayn” W.

    • rsterling
      Reply

      It is a sweet gig, indeed, Wes. There is no crushing deadline on this project. Luke and I are simply working on it as we can, taking our time to try get it as right as we can. So – I guess the only accurate answer to your question is – when we’re done. 🙂 And you’re right – Luke would kill “This Night.” But unfortunately, this isn’t a Christmas project. (Maybe next time?)

  • Patricia Mock
    Reply

    How very encouraging! How sweet to stop and enjoy such treats along the path. Please let us know when and how these can be obtained when the time is right 😊

    • rsterling
      Reply

      Will do, Pat.

  • your shortest sister
    Reply

    There was a long period of time where I would have not only been jealous, but terribly saddened that I couldn’t sing with the ease and talent of Luke Garrett. Now I’m just thrilled to listen to people whom God has blessed with such a beautiful gift. I figure that when God takes me home, that will be soon enough to sing my heart out. And I’ll be happy to sing right alongside Mom.

    Love you big brother!
    Lisa

    • rsterling
      Reply

      Thanks, lil sis.

  • Glen Schultz
    Reply

    Rob,
    Is there anywhere we can get the recording of what you did back then? I just learned of the loss or this great man of God and I would love this to commemorate his life.
    Thank you,
    D. Glen Schultz

    • rsterling
      Reply

      Glen – We are working right now to bring out the four complete songs Luke finished before he left us so suddenly. Keep an eye out here or at my Facebook page for updates.

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