Posted On 01 Oct 2014
Tag: Alejandro Escoveda, Allison Moorer, Americana Album of the Year, Ashley Monroe, Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster, Blind Pilot, Bonnie Raitt, Brennen Leigh, Brian Wright, Bruce Hornsby, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Miller, Carole King, Charlie Rich, Dixie Chicks, Don Henley, Grammy, Gretchen Peters, Guy Clark, Jackson Browne, Jackson Browne Tribute Album, James Carr, JD McPherson, John Fullbright, John Prine, Johnette Napolitano, Kelcy Warren, Kim Richey, Kris Kristofferson, Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne, Lyle Lovett, Marcus Hummon, Marty Stuart, Matraca Berg, Mojave Desert, Nick Lowe, Noel McKay, otis Redding, Radney Foster, Raul Malo, Ron Sexsmith, Rosanne Cash, Sam Cooke, Scott Crago, Stacy Dean Campbell, Stephen Foster, Steuart Smith, Steve Perry, Sturgill Simpson, Tamara Saviano, Terri Hendrix, The Flatlanders, The Most Beautiful Girl, The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson, These Days, This Old Road, This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, Todd Snider, Will Hoge, Willie Nelson, Yo-Yo Ma
During the past two decades Tamara Saviano has definitely established herself as a tireless advocate of American music and its artists. She is a Grammy-winning producer, publicist, manager, live concert producer, talent booker, and former music television producer and music journalist.
Saviano is an entrepreneur directing a full service artist management, PR and marketing company serving the folk and Americana genres. She has worked with many acclaimed artists including Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, Radney Foster, Terri Hendrix, Marcus Hummon, Marty Stuart, Gretchen Peters and many more.
Her most recent project is Looking Into You: A Tribute To Jackson Browne, released earlier this year. It is the first ever Jackson Browne tribute album. It features an eclectic range of covers from high profile artists including Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Lyle Lovett and more.
Here she is explaining how she got to where she is today, what’s been a favorite project to work on and what’s it been like working with so many talented musicians:
I actually didn’t set out to be a producer. Once I got in the studio for the first time to co-produce Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster, I fell in love with the creative process…how one can take a lofty idea and turn it into a piece of art. It blew my mind.
Did you grow up around a lot of music and musicians?
I grew up around a lot of music but not musicians. My grandparents and my dad were big music lovers and always had records on the turntable or a music station on the radio.
What was your journey like leading up to scoring your first deal?
Well, I didn’t wait for a deal. I went out and did my first project by myself with some friends. We took a big risk and I maxed out my credit card to pay for the project. Not something I recommend but it did work out for me. After the success of the first project, I had some leverage to negotiate deals and I have done that with several of my projects.
How have you grown since you started?
Too many ways to list. I think the biggest way I’ve grown is in confidence. Most of the time I do the projects I want to do in the way I want to do them and don’t give a fig whether or not anyone else likes the way I’m working or whether or not anyone likes the finished project. Having said that, I also love to collaborate but I only get involved in projects that I believe in.
Talk about the process for a tribute album. Do you pick the songs first and then find artists to record them, or vice versa?
A little bit of both. For the Jackson Browne tribute, my co-producer Kelcy Warren had a list of artists that he wanted to record certain songs. This project was Kelcy’s baby, his vision, and it was my job to get as close to the vision as possible. For the Guy Clark tribute, it was my vision and I knew exactly which artists I wanted on the record. There were some artists that I wanted to do a specific song. For the others, I gave them a couple of song choices that I thought were a good fit and let the artist choose from those one or two.
Tell me how the Jackson Browne Tribute album came together?
Kelcy Warren and I met when I was producing the Guy Clark tribute. After that project was finished, Kelcy asked me if I would be interested in helping him with a Jackson Browne tribute. Kelcy is the biggest Jackson fan I know and he had a clear vision for what he wanted with the record. He hired me to produce the record in keeping his vision.
What has been the ultimate goal of this album?
To honor Jackson Browne.
What was it like working with Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Lyle Lovett and others for this collection?
I’ve been fortunate to work with many great artists over the last 23 years and they continue to amaze me with their passion, generosity and endurance. They are constantly pulled in many different directions and it’s no small feat to take the time to do one song for a tribute album.
Can you elaborate on how you allowed the artists to create their own vision for this tribute album? Was it a little scary letting them have full control of instrumentation?
It was not scary because all of these artists are total pros. It was really fun to be able to say to them, “We want you on this album. What do you need? How do you want to do it? How can I help you get there?” One of my favorite stories from the album is about Don Henley’s track. Don was so passionate about doing this song for Jackson and he wanted it to be perfect. At first we were going to go in the studio with Bruce Hornsby on piano and Steuart Smith on guitar and Scott Crago on drums. Then Don called me one day and said that he thought “These Days” needed a more subtle arrangement so the lyrics and vocal would really be out in front. We talked about accompanying Don with cello and violin. I started down the path to find the right cellist and violinist and then Don sent me a link to a YouTube video of Blind Pilot. As soon as I saw the video, I understood what Don heard for “These Days.” It was perfect. Neither one of us knew the band but I tracked them down and Don recorded the song with Blind Pilot as his band. It still blows me away to recall the time and effort Don put into recording this one track for this one album.
What are some other tribute albums that you have worked on that you most proud of?
Well, I’m probably most proud of This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark because I am the biggest Guy Clark fan in the world and doing that album was so much fun. It won the Americana Album of the Year in 2012 and was nominated for a Grammy so that was really nice recognition. Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster was my first and we won a Grammy for that one, which was mind-blowing. Stephen Foster was America’s first professional songwriter and to have him honored with a Grammy more than 100 years after his death was cool.
The one that is probably closest to my heart is The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson. It was my gift to Kris for his 70th birthday. I’ve worked with Kris for a very long time and he and his wife Lisa are such good friends…they are like family to me. I’ll never forget when I presented Kris with the first finished copy of the album. We were sitting in an SUV in the Mojave Desert on the set of his video shoot for his song “This Old Road.” The first line of that song is “Look at that old photograph, is it really you…” and Kris saw the cover image and sang the line to me. Then we both cried. Which I should say is not that big of a deal as we both cry at the drop of a hat anyhow.
Tell me about your memoir, The Most Beautiful Girl. What led you to write that?
My stepdad who raised me died suddenly of a heart attack in 2001. We hadn’t spoken to each other in ten years. In my grief, I went on a journey to discover who he was as a man and how it had all gone so terribly wrong between us. The book is the story of that journey.
In 2012, you earned a Grammy nod for This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark for Best Folk Album. How did that feel? What separates that particular project from other albums that you have worked on?
It was a nice honor and the second time I had been nominated. The first time, we won the Grammy but I was pretty sure we weren’t going to win with the Guy tribute because we were up against Yo-Yo Ma. How can anyone compete with that? But we had such a great time at the Grammys and I was completely relaxed because there was no pressure. I don’t know what separates that project from the others as far as Grammy nominations. I think all various artists projects have a better chance of getting a nomination simply because there are more artists and musicians and other voting members who participate in the process and just the sheer number of people voting helps the chances.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in awards. They are nice to receive but the most important part to me is doing the work.”
Oh boy, there are so many. I love songwriters.This is not a complete list but here are some artists on the playlist I’m listening to at this moment: Otis Redding, Rosanne Cash, Ron Sexsmith, The Flatlanders, Kim Richey, Charlie Rich, James Carr, Dixie Chicks, Raul Malo, Willie Nelson, Matraca Berg, Buddy Miller, Brian Wright, Todd Snider, Carole King, Nick Lowe, Johnette Napolitano, Alejandro Escovedo, Sam Cooke, John Prine, Jackson Browne, Will Hoge, JD McPherson, Allison Moorer, Stacy Dean Campbell.
Any new artists that you are a fan of today?
Ashley Monroe, Sturgill Simpson, John Fullbright, Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay, Brian Wright.
If you could work with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Steve Perry. I think he sings as pretty as Sam Cooke and I would love to produce an album of him singing songs by some of my favorite Americana songwriters. I’ve approached him a couple of times but he has turned me down. It’s still something I’d love to do if I could ever talk him into it.
What album would you want to work together on?
My idea would be to bring him to Nashville and put him in a room with some of my favorite songwriters to write. Then we could pick the best of that stuff along with some of my favorite covers and do a kick ass album. Honestly, it would be such a blast and I think he’d have a great time.
When you aren’t working on new material, what do you like to do for fun?
Listen to music, read, go to dinner with friends, walking, yoga. And I travel to my favorite cities over and over again. I don’t have the desire to go anywhere new but I love to go back to the same places and get to know them better.