I met Eric Copeland, producer, arranger, songwriter, singer, keyboardist. I recently reviewed his album The Jazz In Me and Drew Davidsen's new album Around (Again), which was produced by Eric.

hbh: Eric, is that a complete description of your professional work?

EC: Yes, I wear many hats (laughs). Actually this all started with songwriting, which led to being an artist and then making recordings of my music. Then when folks found out I did that kind of thing, they began to have me do arranging and production for them as far back as high school.

hbh: I visited your website Creative Soul Online on which you offer artists across the nation and the world the opportunity for true artist development and full studio production in Nashville, TN using the top players and producers in Christian music today, and the opportunity to associate with a strong independent Christian label that is helping artists reach a national and international audience. How do I have to understand that offer of music consulting?

EC: Yes exactly. I have always felt that the best way for artists to truly grow is to go through the consulting and development process. In the old days, to learn any craft, you used to have to sit at the feet of a master and be an apprentice, sometimes for years. I think you truly learn best when you work with those who are more experienced that you are. The musicians, engineers, and producers here in Nashville have been working with the best in Christian music for 20+ years, and have so much experience, wisdom, and mastery of craft to learn from.

Then, we take the artist into a phase of identity development, crafting an image and design that gives them a totally new look and feel. Add these amazing processes together and you have a completely new professional musical and graphic identity. This helps immensely whether you're selling CDs out of your trunk, or to a worldwide audience.


hbh: What is the concrete catalogue of your services?

EC: We start with consulting, trying to help Christian artists sort out all the creative gifts God has given them, and then put together a plan to get the ministry going. That usually leads to songwriting, arranging, and production services towards a full product that can serve them in ministry. We also assist with photography, design, and duplication in this process. Finally, as Creative Soul Records we help the artist promote the record with radio, publicity, and distribution ideas and contacts in the industry.

hbh: Which conditions and abilities are necessary to be supported by Creative Soul Records?

EC: Well, it's much more about heart and ministry than abilities, this is ministry after all.

Now with our newest label, Creative Soul Jazz, we're really looking for excellent jazz talent as well as ministry. Also, in this age, you have to come to the table with some support and capital. There is no free lunch anymore. We're willing to help, but find that most artists would still rather own most everything, or at least a good chunk so they can make a living. The traditional model doesn't work for artist OR label.

Our goal with Creative Soul Jazz is to be a true middle ground, sharing spiritual sensibilities with the jazz world, while also bringing jazz more into the church and Christian music industry.

hbh: You merge your spiritual belief with your consulting service and your music. How strong is the religious impact on your work?

EC: Well, it's the reason I do any creative work I think. If you believe a Creator made us in His image, then aren't we are ALL little creators? But more than that, both in my music and Creative Soul Jazz, I want to bring out the beauty and passion of spiritual things in a jazzy way.

Jazz and the gospel have been tied together since the very roots of jazz. It's funny that "church folk" actually campaigned against jazz early on, but that was mostly because of clubs and speakeasies.

I find now that instrumental and art music are much more welcome in an age of similar sounding Christian pop and worship. My greatest wish is that Creative Soul Jazz can have both a positive effect on the jazz community, as well as inform and bring a jazz sensibility to the church community.

hbh: Can you tell us something about the artists you worked with Creative Soul Jazz?

EC: Well, we've actually had a bunch of success with a new guitar player out of Baltimore, Maryland named Drew Davidsen. His new single "Astro" has flown up he smooth jazz charts, and he actually opened for George Duke at the Catalina Jazz Festival a few months ago. We also have smoky jazz and gospel singer Jessie Laine Powell, and we're working on her national debut record now.

hbh: Jazz, contemporary jazz, smooth jazz. What is your personal view of these genres?

EC: Well, it's obvious there are two different genres inside of jazz: the traditional side (from classic Miles Davis to Chick Corea to today's modern jazz artists) and the smooth side (everything you hear on smooth jazz radio ie. Rippingtons, Euge Groove, Rick Braun). And I think yes there is a 'contemporary' or what we used to call 'fusion' side, and it's relegated to the side of both arguments (Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny, etc).

But I think come jazz fest time, all those folks tend to live together just fine. It's more the purists, educators, and theorists that make that difference.

I'd like to think Creative Soul Jazz will be viewed as a contemporary jazz label, that has artists form all these genres, as well as Latin, vocal, and other jazz genres.

hbh: Let's talk about your next projects. Can you offer something for the eager audience?

EC: I thought you'd never ask!! ;) Yes, here are some projects I have going that I am very excited about:

"Welcome to Florida". Working title for an album inspired by vacating in the sunshine state! Very inspired by my main man Michael Franks, so you may hear alot of vocals and cool grooves. 

"Coolest". This will be the third and final rendition of my "Cool" series that started in 1997 with a cassette release called "It's So Cool", and then a remastered CD version called "Cooler". This album will be totally new versions of the songs suitable for today's contemporary and smooth jazz scene, and will also offer some new tunes that didn't make it onto that CD in time. PLUS, the Cooler disc will be included as a bonus disc.

"12 Tone Stories". Inspired by my study of music history, this will most likely be much more on the contemporary/fusion side of things and not as smooth. 

Also, available NOW is my newest CD "Quiet Soul Solo Piano Series Volume I" at my website http://wwwEricCopelandMusic.com and I am also going to be releasing a new version of "The Jazz in Me" that includes a few extra songs I didn't get on there in time, and new art work.

There's much more in the hopper with new albums from Drew Davidsen and Jessie Laine Powell, as well as a few player-focused records.

Always alot going on creative-wise!! Just pray for my time to get it all done! :)

hbh: Ok, let's take your answer as a headline. The internet community certainly wants more details about your mentioned projects. How do you would describe your projects, when someone ask you for a comprehensive press info?

EC: "Welcome to Florida" should be first off the presses, with smooth Latin sounds of completely new and original sounds. There will be a lot of vocals on this record, in a very Michael Franks fashion, and each song is centered around a Florida location. Songs on the CD include "Sand Dollar in my Suitcase", "On the Beach", and the title song "Welcome to Florida".

I'd say "Coolest" will be a very smooth jazz and commercial project, re-imagining older tunes but with current smooth jazz radio sensibilities. The lead songs off the CD will probably be "It's So Cool" and "Chiller" which will be new fresh arrangements of classic "hits" off that CD.

"12 Tone Stories" is a working title for an album of different explorations into some different key areas. "Play" is a piano romp, and maybe solo piano. But it's a playful nod to Brubeck's Blue Rondo ala Turk. "1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back" recalls the Yellowjackets or Steps Ahead, and "Good Morning, Hummingbird" reminds me of something Flim and the BBs would have put out years ago.

My "Quiet Soul Solo Piano Series Vol 1" is pretty self-explanatory. It's the first solo piano album in a planned series. This allows me to re-imagine some of my songs simply and record them quickly. And I also get to arrange some hymns that I love. This CD is available now at my website, CDBaby, and iTunes.

Drew Davidsen has been a surprise story for us this past year with a song zooming up the charts, and in January we just scheduled studio sessions to start a Christmas CD for 2010. It will be a live studio trio plus Drew. Very exciting!

We're also currently at work on sultry vocalist Jessie Laine Powell's debut national album called "Fill the Void", and it will definitely fill the void of amazing sultry female jazz vocalists, while also bringing a new side of gospel music to the world. With covers of song by Al Jarreau, Gino Vanelli, as well as a terrific originals, this CD will establish Jessie as a musical force.

You can hear Drew and Jessie now at our site http://www.CreativeSoulJazz.com.

We also have planned products featuring the incredible sessions players of Nashville, including Mark Baldwin (guitar), Gary Lunn (bass), and more but these are just in the beginning stages.

As you can see, we have an ambitious schedule. To make these happen we are looking for investors/executive producers for these terrific projects, and anyone interested can contact us at http://www.CreativeSoulJazz.com for details.

hbh: Talking about investors and executive producers: How can they support your projects?

EC: Well, we do jazz and ministry for the love of it; because we can't NOT do it. But at the same time, I believe very highly in our best for HIS best. And doing things with quality can mean an investment.

Now luckily, because I can do so much of the work myself (keyboards, mix, design, etc), my main thrust is hiring the right players to make this go. And I like to pay these guys what they are worth. 

Plus, all artists need help paying for radio promotion, and publicity to reinforce their gigs. 

So, investors can help make sure production expenses are met, plus help us pay for promotional things like radio and publicity.

Anytime an investor steps up to help an artist during the production phase, they automatically get an Executive Producer credit. They get to be part of the process and we welcome their comments as well.

If anyone out there is interested in supporting a Creative Soul Jazz artist, please email me personally at creativesouljazz@charter.net.

hbh: We observe a constant decline of sales rates in the music industry. There are various models to change this dilemma. Do you have a special receipt?

EC: Well, I'm not sure I have the answer to this. But I think that no matter what crazy ideas people come up with to get/raise money, touring and live sales are crucial. I don't think jazz has ever been a huge seller in the stores, and most all jazz musicians have made their living on the road. And in my experience, the only folks who have sold consistently online are the ones touring and leaving behind impressed fans who go online and buy later. Jazz is a performance art. It is something you GO see. That is what has separated it and classical from all the other genres. In a way that's what makes it special.


hbh: I strongly believe, that musicians who put integrity in their work, will always find their audience. I wish you a loyal and faithful fan community following you through ups and down. Hopefully you will never loose your joy to perform your music. All the best, Eric!

EC: Thanks Hans!!!