Musicians given star treatment in tapes created by computer whiz

December 20, 1993|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Staff Writer

Carlene Shears does not aspire to be Linda Ronstadt. But her mother in Maine may think so Christmas morning when she hears "Momma's Song," her daughter's musical tribute.

Paul A. George doesn't yearn to be the next Clint Black. But he wants to compose music a star of Clint Black's magnitude would add to his repertoire.

To help realize their dreams, they turned to David Beverley, 29, a musician and computer master who combines his skills to turn raw talent into a professional, finished product -- electronically.

Mr. Beverley has converted a corner of his living room into a pocket-sized studio. An electronic keyboard, sound synthesizer and mixing equipment linked to his personal computer give him the flexibility to record, enhance and refine music down to the individual note.

He compares his work to word processing -- using music instead of words. He feeds music into his computer as digital information that he can alter and enhance to produce the final work.

"Creative people usually can't handle technical things very well and vice versa, but Dave has been able to do both. He's a genius," said Mrs. Shears, 27, a Linthicum resident.

Before recording and computer technology advanced so far, recording studios were big soundproof rooms where bands and singers were taped as they performed. Today the big rooms and backup musicians can be created electronically at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

"Now it's the quality of the equipment, not the room. Wherever you set yourself up is a recording studio," Mr. Beverley said. His equipment can filter out extraneous noise, enhance the sounds and add backup musicians with a few key presses.

Mrs. Shears strummed her guitar and sang the song she had composed in her mind three years ago. Mr. Beverley taped her, then recorded his own guitar and vocal background. Adding instrumentation from his electronic synthesizer and sound mixer, arranged and refined the work, and there it was -- a professional cassette recording.

"I've been playing guitar and singing most of my life, and I've been composing songs for years in my head," Mrs. Shears said. "Three years ago it struck me that my mother's not immortal, and I started to cry. I did the song to try to tell her how I felt.

"I sang it to her once, that Mother's Day, and she's been after me ever since to write it down and sing it into a tape recorder," Mrs. Shears said. "Boy, is she going to be surprised when she hears this. Dave made me feel like a star that day."

The computer technology "allows you to be as creative as you want," Mr. Beverley said. "I can come in here at 2 o'clock in the morning and have a whole orchestra playing. But no one else can hear because I'm doing it through headphones."

With Mr. Beverley's help, Mr. George is undertaking a more ambitious project. They're working on an album of eight to 10 of Mr. George's compositions, which they hope to release by early spring.

The complete album will cost about $3,000, Mr. Beverley said. "Labels [the music companies] want to hear a finished product when you're trying to sell them a song. It's not like the old demo tapes, where they could hear the song and then have it produced. They want the whole thing done up front now because there are so many people trying to sell songs."

The two men met in June when Mr. Beverley took a job at the Glen Burnie appliance store where Mr. George has worked for several years. They began playing guitar together, and Mr. Beverley produced a demo tape of Mr. George's song "Sunshine Lady."

"We ended up deciding to do an album together. He took the music I created and turned it into a fully finished song. We've recorded five songs so far," Mr. George said. The working title is "Believe In Yourself."

Mr. Beverley was born in Baltimore but grew up in California as a Navy brat. He taught himself to play guitar in his early teens "to help get girls."

"It worked," he said, and he was hooked on music. The family moved to Virginia, and he worked his way through community college playing guitar in local clubs and at Busch Gardens.

"I played seven nights and six days a week for two years. That's when I really became a professional musician. I always played with people who were better than me, with really good musicians. I was very lucky," Mr. Beverley said.

Settling down in Baltimore with his wife and 1-year-old son, Mr. Beverley started his company, Natural High Productions, with the idea of eventually producing recordings by artists he has discovered.

In the meantime, he said he is looking for amateurs like Mrs. Shears and budding professionals like Mr. George who want their material showcased. He will make a demo tape such as "Momma's Song" for $60 and for $200 will record as many as four songs by a band.

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