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Songs of the Soaps


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They write the songs that make soaps sing


From Their Hearts to Our Homes, Favorite SoapSongs Now Available on CD

Barbara Jordan, head of A&R for the new specialty label, Songs of the Soaps™, couldn’t be more delighted with the recent release of the first three titles:  Favorite Songs Heard on the Young and the Restless, Favorite Songs Heard on All My Children and Favorite Songs Heard on One Life to Live.

At Right:  SoapSongs co-founder Barbara Jordan
with OLTL's Nathaniel Marston (Michael)

“We have wanted to do this for the fans – and the shows – for a long time,” Jordan said.  “The best original songs are not owned by the shows and are almost impossible for fans to find.”  But Jordan and her husband, John Sansone, are also the owners of Heavy Hitters Music, a collection of over 6,000 tracks and upwards of 4,000 titles of both vocal and instrumental songs created and assembled for the primary purpose of providing hit-quality source music to film, advertising, and television -- and that means soap operas.  “Heavy Hitters controls the rights to hundreds of soap songs, and we are making them available for the first time to the fans, many of whom have contacted us over the years asking how they could buy their own copies.  Now, with the launch of our new label, and its associated website, they can,” enthused Jordan.

Jordan, a composer herself, got involved in providing music for soap operas about ten years ago when she was noticed by Aaron Spelling Productions.  “I was lucky,” Jordan shares with Soapdom.  “A very creative executive there mentored me and licensed several of my songs for use in Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210.  She knew the Heavy Hitters catalog of songs inside out, and regularly consulted us when she needed to find those special songs for her shows.” 

John Sansone (right) of Soap Songs with Paul Antonelli, music supervisor of Passions

The affiliation with Spelling Productions went from prime time to daytime when Spelling Productions ventured into its first daytime soap opera, Sunset Beach.  “The executive at Spelling asked me to send some CDs to the music supervisor of Sunset Beach, who not only turned out to be one of the most enjoyable people in the world to work with, but who referred me to his colleagues at other daytime soap operas,” said Jordan. “But what I think made me a maven - the ‘Queen of the Soaps’ - is my unique ability to get many different songwriters to write great new songs that fit the needs of the shows, and to write them very quickly under pressure.”  That ability resulted in Heavy Hitters becoming a major supplier, which in turn created the possibility of Songs Of The Soaps™.

Heavy Hitters songs have been featured on just about every soap from Sunset Beach to Passions to General Hospital, All My Children, One Life to Live and Young and the Restless to name a few.  From “Together” on the Favorite Songs Heard on the Young and the Restless CD (Remember back when the underage Colleen was forbidden to see JT? "Together" kept her company all those times she secretly waited at Crimson Lights for JT to appear. First broadcast: 6/24/2002) to “All I Ever Wanted” from the Favorite Songs Heard on All My Children CD ("All I Ever Wanted Was You" was played as Bianca and Maggie discussed their feelings for each other, but decided to remain best friends. First broadcast: 10/3/2002), the soapsongs.com website gives you a detailed snapshot of the scene along with a download of a snippet of the song.

A Boston native, Jordan found herself on the move at eight years old. Her family, then she herself, relocated a lot. She lived in New Bedford, Brockton and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, then went to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she studied music composition.  Jordan moved to Los Angeles and got an MBA at UCLA Grad School of Management -- which is now called Anderson School of Management -- where her major was in Arts Management.  While studying at UCLA, Jordan met her husband and partner in Heavy Hitters and Songs of the Soaps™, John Sansone, a Harvard undergrad, Harvard Law School Grad and UCLA Business School Grad. Hailing originally from California, Sansone has extensive background in the film and television industry. Jordan and Sansone ultimately moved to New York where their business is now based.

Soapdom wants to know, how does Heavy Hitters get commissioned to compose a song for a soap opera?
 
“We don’t get formally commissioned to write songs,” said Jordan.  “But we follow the shows and we keep in touch with the music staff on the shows so we and our writers know as much as possible about what the shows will need.  We give them a variety of songs to choose from.  Many times the song that works best for the show is one that we submit, because we are so familiar with the characters and the mood of what is happening on the show at the time.”

OLTL's Heather Tom (Kelly) with Soap Songs writer/performer Michael Kisur

Jordan and her stable of soap song composers get ideas for songs from the storylines of each show.  “Inspiration comes from knowing how to complement story with music that reinforces the feeling of the scenes and the personalities of the show’s characters.  The reason we have been so successful is that we and the writers who work with us are very, very good at doing this.  We see ourselves and people we know in the show’s characters and we write about them!”

Even though selecting the right composer/singer for a particular song can be tricky, Jordan seems to have a knack for creating the perfect match time after time.  “I can’t really explain it – it’s just something I have an instinct for and always have,” admitted Jordan.  “And I’ve gotten better at it over the years.  Believe me, it’s the most important part of what I do – picking the right writers and singers who will come up with the right music and lyrics for the scene.”

How are the songs developed?  “The production process is usually different for every song,” revealed Jordan.  “Sometimes the writers will work entirely in their own studios by themselves. They are the artist, writer and producer, and they can create a full recording from start to finish in an afternoon without ever leaving their home studio. The actual music track can be sent over internet to the soap opera music director, and it can be dubbed into the show that evening.”

Talk about efficiency!  However, when or if a song needs a few special touches, part of the song is delivered to the music director and who adds some layers to the music or “sweetens” the track. “Sometimes a song will have to follow another song by overlapping it, so a key must be changed or it will sound very strange!” said Jordan with a smile. “Sometimes only the instrumental parts will be delivered to the music director, who will then play a “demo” of the song to the actor, who then learns the song and will sing it live to the track when the scene is being filmed. There are dozens of variations on production of a song for a soap.”
 

Barbara Jordan with Passions Music
Editor, Walter New

The music is one of the last things to be added to a show in post production, and it’s never easy!  “First of all, due to the fast pace of production on a daily show, music supervisors don’t have the luxury to be able to listen to a lot of musical submissions for hours on end. Nor do they have a lot of time to communicate their needs to a music publisher,” confided Jordan.  “They have to be able to put their hands on a good, functional piece of music quickly and without any fuss. 

“Our vision for our songs is not of primary importance. Some of our songwriters write whatever they feel or want to write, and then we hope we can find a good spot for those songs. But many times we’re responding to a request from the music supervisor or producer of the show -- who tells us what his/her musical vision is for the scene -- and we try to accommodate that vision.”

Since most of the music you hear on soaps is fit into the show AFTER every other part of the production process is completed, music is the art form that has to be most accommodating and flexible. The task of the music editors and supervisors is to cut and paste into the scene the part of a song that will work best with the dialogue in such a way that only a part of the song will actually be heard.

“Songwriters are often disappointed that their songs sound so unimportant around the dialogue, but they always have to be reminded that it’s primarily a visual medium, and music is there to serve the needs of the picture,” said Jordan.  “Sometimes a montage scene will have no dialogue and the music and lyric will be the focus of the audience’s attention. That’s great when it happens!”
 
Heavy Hitters Music owns the performance and publishing rights to all the music. “The reason collections of the best songs on the soaps have never been released before is because the shows don’t own the rights.  It’s up to the publishers like us to find a record label – or create one like we did – to make recordings of these songs available,” said Jordan.

One of Heavy Hitters songs was in the Emmy running this year.  “’Before I Go’” by Michael Kisur was put up by One Life To Live as part of the pre-nomination selection process,” revealed Jordan.  “But it didn’t receive a formal nomination; in fact, due to confusion in the pre-nomination procedures, no song from any of the nine soaps was nominated for an Emmy this year.” This is the first year Heavy Hitters got involved in the Emmy selection process.  “We have many eligible songs and we intend to compete for the Emmy again in the future.”

Of the first three Songs of the Soaps releases, they are all titled Volume 1 and contain music as far back as 2001 or 2002.  Soapdom wants to know, if there are plans for future CDs with newer music?  “We have plans for subsequent volumes, with both newer and older music.  There are still many ‘old favorites’ that the fans have not had a chance to buy, in addition to the great new songs which have been on the more recent shows.”

Why would a typical fan of AMC, OLTL or Y&R enjoy the respective CD?  Why should they buy it?

“They would be able to hear songs IN THEIR ENTIRETY that they only hear snippets of in the show, and get a better sense of the words,” said Jordan.  “When they hear them later again and again in the background of scenes, they would already be familiar with them and would feel closer to the characters for which those songs are the ‘themes.’  It creates a greater level of intimacy with the show. You tend to miss a lot of what the music is trying to signal to the audience if you don’t know the lyrics!”

Jordan with the music department of OLTL who tied with AMC for Most Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series at the 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Creative Craft Achievement Awards on May 14, 2005

For Jordan, there’s a personal satisfaction in working in music for the soap opera industry.  “What’s best about it is that I don’t have to wait a year after I’ve written a song to hear it on TV.  Sometimes I write it on a Thursday and it might be on TV the next week!” Jordan shared.   “Movies aren’t like that – it’s a much longer post production process. My husband knows I’m having a good day when he hears me screaming from the TV room ‘that sounded great!’ I am still thrilled when a song is used on a soap -- like last month, when Young and Restless used ‘Peace’ for the 27th time, after a two-year absence from that show. The fans loved that song, and not only did they get to hear it again, but now they can buy it on the Y&R CD. We’ve gotten so many emails from fans over the years PLEADING with us to release a CD with the ‘fan favorite’ songs – and we’ve finally done it, so I’m proud of that. I never thought I’d be releasing a record like this.  Nor did I never dream I’d be doing music for soaps when I wrote my first piano song for my mother when I was eight years old.  She was a big General Hospital fan, so when I had my first song on General Hospital, she was just as excited as I was!”

Visit soapsongs.com for more info.
 

 

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