About The Fortunate Few: The Rock Opera
The Fortunate Few rock opera was born on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, TN, in 1997. Price Jones had what she describes as a shamanistic experience writing this musical story in just two weeks. "The songs were coming as fast as I could write them and record them in my studio, Cat Tracks, at the time. There was one instance where I'd been up all night writing and recording a song and had just laid down to go to sleep, and all of a sudden, the next song was there in my head playing through. So, I had to drag myself out of bed and go back in the studio to catch it," Price remembers.
Flash forward many years later. Jones' life had taken a few crazy turns since then, and she was dealing with some personal tragedies that brought her to a place of deep reflection. It was then she asked herself, "If I died today, what would I regret?" The resounding answer was clear and concise. "Not following through with The Fortunate Few."
At this point, the actual recording of the album, The Fortunate Few: The Rock Opera, began! Price's husband, Bill Francis, happened to be an exceptional bass player hailing from Ridgeway, PA.
Kyle Edmonston, a brilliant Berklee graduate, was spotted playing drums on some videos he posted online. When Stan Lassiter, one of Nashville's finest world-renowned guitarist, jumped on board, "we knew we had something special happening," recalled Price. With the addition of Amy Frederick and eventually Seth Timbs on keys, they got to work.
Once a week for over a year, the group would get together for two hours along with their recording engineer, Memphis native Czar, workshopping and recording the 18 tunes. In the beginning, it was mostly about learning emotionally, where the tunes needed to go. Eventually, the group melded into a tight unit. "Some nights, you could literally feel the energy in the studio, and the band would just be on fire," Price recollected. It was from these sessions that the instrument tracks for the album were chosen. Most all of the band song tracks except for a couple were recorded live.
Next up was finding the vocalists that could capture each unique character in the story. It took six months to try out multiple singers to find just the right people who could bring the songs vocally to life. The biggest hurdle was casting the part of Jonnie Todd. Originally written as a male part, finding a male teenage singer who could pull off the emotionally intense performance proved to be a challenge. Everyone in the Bendall's kid cast had exceptional vocal abilities, but there was one gal who really stood out from the rest. "Kelly Whitlow was just this powerhouse monster vocalist," Price said. The lightbulb eventually went off for Price, who then asked Kelly to audition for Jonnie Todd, and the rest is history.
With Talisha Holmes as Mrs. Todd, Ryan Greenawalt as Mr. Todd. Rebekah Davis as the lab tech, Johnny Todd (yes the same name as our main character, but we'll save that for the interview) as the lab tech #2, Ben Gregory as Dr. Powers, and Faith Godwin, Mason Risser, Angelis Gonzales, Arianna Wooten, Kameron Haislip as the Bendall kids, The Fortunate Few began recording the vocal performances on their rock odyssey musical!
At that point, there was just one role left to fill... Dr. Bendall! The circus showman vocalist who women loved and men wanted to be. The role called for a particularly charismatic rock singer and had thus far proven difficult to cast, even in Nashville with its plethora of talent. To the rescue, and just in time, was former Curb Atlantic artist and well known Nashville entertainer, Eric Hamilton. The magic was complete!
Next in line to help propel this project was the fabulously talented and Grammy award-winning engineer Clarke Schleicher. Luckily for us, due to the pandemic causing a slowdown in his normally nonstop schedule, he had time to mix the project. With his superior audio engineering skills, he was able to take The Fortunate Few to an entirely new level.
From there, the project went to the skilled ears of Andrew Mendelson of Georgetown Masters for the mastering process.
The Fortunate Few had initially planned on debuting a live show production in Nashville, TN. But as fate would have it, their journey was to release The Fortunate Few: The Rock Opera as an album first. Looking to the future, they hope to turn their efforts into a film, and eventually, when it is safe to gather again, begin live shows!