How excited are you about all of the music you can stream now? “Un-Block The Music” is listening to everything from Bon Jovi and Ariana Grande to all of the stage musicals that frankly I can’t usually afford to buy tickets to see! A few days ago, I wrote about Paul Gordon’s adaptation of Pride & Prejudice which is available on StreamlingMusicals.com. Since then, I was able to speak to Paul who also composed Emma, the company’s first livestream created in 2018 before there was any sign of a pandemic.
As always, I like to dig into an artist’s past to understand where their musical prowess originates. However, before I share tidbits about Paul’s life, I want to announce Streaming Musical’s encore presentation and cast party of Emma on Wednesday, May 6 at 7 p..m. Sign up here https://www.emmamusicalpremiere.com/
As for Paul’s history, he was nominated for a Tony in 2001 for composing the music and lyrics to Jane Eyre, the musical. He is also the recipient of several theater awards for his music and lyrics to Daddy Long Legs which had productions all over the world, including Off-Broadway.. Despite all of this success, musical theater was not his roots. Paul was part of the pop/rock world for most of his career (much like Un-Block The Music.) He actually wrote Peter Cetera’s hit “The Next Time I Fall” and Gloria Loring’s “Friends and Lovers” to name a few.
Like many of the artists “Un-Block The Music” speaks with, Paul’s musical education was not a formal one. “My dad got a guitar and he so smartly learned a couple of chords. I was fascinated when he taught me the chords. He didn’t teach me any songs, but I loved the guitar and I learned to write my own songs. It became second nature to write music on guitar. Then I figured out you could play the chords on the piano and I started writing that way.”
Although he says he wanted to be Elvis Costello in his youth Paul also grew up listening to his parents playing West Side Story, My Fair Lady and Godspell. “I discovered Stephen Sondheim in college and I integrated him into my pop writing which may not have necessarily been a good idea,” Paul jokes. “Then I discovered the novel Jane Eyre and I wondered, if I could make this into a musical since it was in the public domain. That opened a new world to me in terms of language from genius authors like Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. It was inspiring in a way that pop music really wasn’t to me anymore.”
Ultimately, what brought Paul to the idea of streaming musicals was Daddy Long Legs produced by Ken Davenport. If you read “Un-Block The Music” regularly, as HOPED, you will see Ken’s name come up often. Most times, I haven’t planned to do that, it is just a tribute to how innovative he is. Anyway, “we were doing Daddy Long Legs off Broadway, and honestly it wasn’t doing as well as we had hoped. So Ken decided to try something unique. He decided to do a live stream of this off-Broadway show for free.” At the time, Paul didn’t think much of the idea either way. He attended the performance with his wife to be supportive. He saw two guys from live stream team on either side of the stage filming. “Long story short, I get home, and I see the live feed for Los Angeles. I thought, I would watch a few minutes of it just to make sure we were not embarrassed. I thought…this looks pretty good. Then I thought..it sounds pretty good, And, I swear to you, I watched the whole show. I saw it a whole new way and I thought…this is a fun experience.”
Then Paul had an epiphany. “I thought, this is the future. This is how we can make money and transform our industry. This is how artists can get paid. I believe so profoundly in that idea, and weirdly it has taken a pandemic to realize it is a good idea. More importantly, why can’t those involved in theater earn through perpetuity the way they do in film and TV. When you work and do something you are proud of, it should last a long time.”
What’s next for Paul? He is working on an episodic musical about Kitty Bennet. “I took that character from Pride and Prejudice and I made her a celebrity blogger…her life is a musical. She is played by Juliette Goglia (That’s So Raven). It’s super fun and we are going to release that to the world soon. We were working remotely, and finished it before we ever heard of Coronavirus.”
“Un-Block The Music” looks forward to it. In the meantime, check out these past stories about Streaminglusicals.com: