For this months Club EDA download, we’re going to deliver on a long standing request so you can be a fly on the wall during a truly exceptional moment in time. Today we’ll be addressing "Gloria," which many consider one of the most extraordinary compositions in Jewel's entire catalogue.
With lyrics in Latin and partly inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach's "Mass in B minor" (universally considered one of the supreme achievements in all of classical music), "Gloria" is one of Jewel's most ambitious and astounding creations. Many of you are already familiar with it from the initial recording on Jewel's third album, "Joy: A Holiday Collection"or it’s second appearance in expanded form on her “Lullaby” album a few years ago, but the genesis of "Gloria" actually began during 1998, a year that Jewel stopped touring.
Much of 1998 was spent compiling her poetry book,"A Night Without Armour," while on location acting in Ang Lee's Civil War movie, "Ride With The Devil," where Jewel had the lead female role of Sue Lee Shelly. When she began the pre-production phase for her second album, "Spirit," that summer, the skeletal framework for "Gloria" began. Initially Jewel conceived it on guitar in instrumental form. The original demo is just her on guitar, with "Spirit" session guitarist Jude Cole adding his touches on second guitar. Although it is certainly a spiritual song in every sense of the word, it wasn't completed at that time.
Toward the end of the following summer, when the pre-production phase for her third album "Joy: A Holiday Collection" began, Jewel returned to "Gloria." The demo from the "Spirit" sessions was sent to legendary arranger and producer, Arif Mardin, who became quite enamored with it. He helped Jewel by transcribing it to keyboards and arranging and orchestrating it for the upcoming sessions. Jewel initially attempted writing lyrics in English, but found them distracting and too specific. She decided to write the lyrics in a foreign language so that listeners would be carried away by the overall sound and spirit of the recording, rather than focusing on any specific element. Her lofty goal was to create an original aria not associated with any one religion, but rather one that relayed the dark and deep yearning for a universal redemption. Drawing on her choral experience and the limited Latin she had learned from singing arias and classical works while studying music at Interlochen, she composed new lyrics that would work toward achieving this goal. These new lyrics were actually conceived while recording and to help her make sure they made sense, Arif Mardin brought a Latin expert to the sessions, which Jewel consulted with during the process.
The results of that recording and "Ave Maria" (on the same album) gave many listeners their first exposure to Jewel's operatic abilities and the true range of her voice. Unlike many opera singers, Jewel's vocal was impressively free of vibrato and more meticulous and reverent than anything she had attempted before. Still, she made it sound effortless. I think most people who have heard that initial version of "Gloria" will agree that it was a remarkable achievement. If nothing else, "Gloria" best demonstrated the clarity, depth and technical aspects of Jewel’s vocal abilities at that point in time.
As many of you know, Jewel only performed "Gloria" before a live audience on one special occasion and that was on September 14, 1999 at Sony Studios in New York City, when she taped a live holiday special for the PBS television series, "Sessions at West 54th," with Arif Mardin conducting the choir and mini-orchestra. Selections from that taping were broadcast on PBS over the holidays and were later released on home video, also with the title "Joy: A Holiday Collection." However, the only people given the opportunity to hear "Gloria" performed live were the 150 EDAs that we invited to make up the in-studio audience. Jewel performed “Gloria” twice that evening, but neither take made the final cut for the television broadcast or the home video release. I vaguely recall there being extraneous noise issues to blame. Ever since, EDAs have inquired about those rare performances of “Gloria, " but I have to admit, I kind of forgot about it... That is until EDA Chris Bokros (I hope I spelled your name right!) reminded me this past December by again requesting it for Club EDA download consideration.
I was initially intending to pursue one of those outtakes from the PBS taping, but while addressing some unlogged 1999 tapes recently, I discovered another astonishing live take of “Gloria" that nobody, including the EDAs at the PBS taping, has ever heard before. This version comes from the previous afternoon, when Jewel and Arif Mardin were rehearsing with the choir and mini-orchestra. I’ve also left in some of the talking before and after the song, so you can hear a bit of Jewel and Arif’s banter with each other, as well as the intimate vibe of the room. Unlike most of our free downloads, this is not a direct mixing desk recording, as none exists of the rehearsals. Instead, this is an ambient room recording, but I think you'll agree, quite a nice one. Like I mentioned at the start, this recording is like being a fly on the wall during an exceptional moment in time. In addition to this never-before-heard live take of Gloria," a pdf file of Jewel’s handwritten lyrics are also included for you.
If you are already a registered member of jeweljk.com, simply log in to the community area and help yourself to the files here. If you are not yet registered, please register first here. Its free and easy. If you experience any technical difficulty, don't hesitate to ask for help at [email protected] If you’ve missed any of our previous Club EDA downloads, all of them are still available, so you can help yourself to those files as well. For details on the previous downloads, you can access my previous blogs about them by clicking “Alan." In regards to our free downloads, we respectfully request that rather than share the free files elsewhere, that you do Jewel the favor of instead sharing the link to join her free Club EDA community, so that others can download the free files themselves. Please spread the word rather than the files and help Jewel build her online community. You can read her thoughts on this here.
Recorded at the rehearsal for “Sessions at West 54th” at Sony Studios in New York City on September 13, 1999, enjoy this never-before-heard live rehearsal take of Jewel singing “Gloria,” with legendary arranger and producer Arif Mardin conducting the musicians and choir, as this month's free Club EDA download.