Terrance - Hello Wendy Moten. How are you?
Wendy Moten - All is well so far.
Terrance - Tell me about your latest Jazz project, Timeless: Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting.
Wendy Moten - Originally it was going to be an instrumental project with LA Jazz Producer guru Paul Brown, Mark Nordman owner of Woodward Ave. Records and the Richard Whiting foundation. Initially it was going to be a project of some of the more obscure Richard Whiting songs. Richard Whiting was a contemporary composer of his day. Many artists recorded his songs for stage and movies.. I think it’s been reported that he wrote over 300 songs. I remember having dinner with Paul Brown and his wife and I mentioned that I would love to record a Standard Jazz project. He initially thought I was insane and rejected the idea. I told him I didn’t care because I was going to do it anyway. I thought he would be just the right producer to help me. Thank goodness I planted that seed because he thought about me when he was asked to produce this project. So, he changed the concept from an instrumental project to a “Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting” project.
Terrance - What was it like enlisting Grammy Award winning producer Paul Brown to mastermind, Timeless: Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting?
Wendy Moten - We’ve been good friends for a long time and he’s been very gracious throughout the years to include me on a few of the different recordings he’s produced as a featured artist and sometimes singing background vocals.
Terrance - There’s a cover of the Billie Holiday song, “Miss Brown to You” which I think is remarkable.
Wendy Moten - That’s awesome!!! I love that song too. It’s so much fun .
Terrance - You collaborated with Latin International star Julio Iglesias on the song “Just Walk Away” and toured with him as a background assistant. How did that come about and what was the whole experience like?
Wendy Moten - Julio Iglesias is a living icon. Before CD’s, it’s said that he sold more records than the Beatles worldwide. That’s saying a lot. He recorded beautiful music in 5 languages. That’s genius to me. While I was trying to figure my next move after my life on EMI Records, Julio found me. He records beautiful music and some of the best duets. He was looking for a duet partner for his then upcoming tour. I thought I would give it a try and that lasted 15 years. Julio changed my musical life. He taught me how to love singing, melody and more importantly making a sincere connection with the audience.
Terrance - I recall you being a background assistant for Country artists Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul II Tour as well?
Wendy Moten - Yes, I was on tour with them in 2006, 2008-2014. I’ve performed on numerous national TV shows and specials as well as a few Award shows with them. I love working with Tim and Faith. They are great artists and really good people. Currently I’m on tour with country star Martina McBride. I sang bgv’s on her current CD and was asked to go out on tour with her. She’s an amazing Mom, Singer and Artist. My Saturday tv watching consisted of Hee Haw, Soul Train and Lawrence Welk. Now I’m telling my age. I was influenced by all of those different genres of music which helped me create some longevity in this music game.
Terrance - Can you share with us what it was like working with R&B Legend Phil Perry on the song “Still It’s You”?
Wendy Moten - Phil Perry is Amaaaaaaazing. He’s an amazing Artist and an incredible person. I was in awe of him the first time we met. The only thing we had to figure out was who’s going to sing the high parts. He’s got like 5 or 6 octaves. He’s a gracious person and he still sings amazing today.
Terrance - What artists in today’s music you listen to?
Wendy Moten - Hmmmmmm, there are so many great artists out there. I’m pretty eclectic and love most of everything..
Terrance - How do you feel about reality TV? If offered, would you do it?
Wendy Moten - Well, reality tv is king today. I don’t watch it really, but, I would do a show.
Terrance - Who were your musical influences growing up?
Wendy Moten - Aretha Franklin is my #1, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'day, Barbara Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Ann Murray, Julie London and tons of other singers worldwide and we don’t even have time to discuss all of the bands I love….
Terrance - How did you get your first deal with EMI?
Wendy Moten - It was a fluke. Dick Williams who worked as a record company production leader at Warner Bros Record in LA and for some other labels before that, decided he wanted to produce and manage artists. He had worked on so many stars records and had broken songs into the market that he was ready to try to do it himself. Dick was visiting my hometown of Memphis, Tn. to check out a band he wanted to get signed to a record deal. He stopped by a recording studio in Memphis called Cotton Row owned by Niko Lyrus. I happened to be in the studio that day hired to sing a commercial jingle and Dick asked Niko who I was. Dick introduced himself and wanted to know if he could hear me sing live with a band that night. I didn’t have a band at the time. He was only in town for 2 nights. As luck would have it, Niko owned a band and they happened to be playing that night. I told him I could sit in with them. So I sang “Saving All My Love For You”, “Freeway of Love” and “You Got The Love”. He told me “I think I can get you a record deal..”. Of course, I laughed it off. A few months later, he called and said he had 3 songs he wanted me to record and he believed I would get signed. It happened really fast. There was interest at Warner Bros, Elektra and EMI. Dick thought EMI was a better fit at that time.
Terrance - Take us back to “Come In Out of the Rain”. That was a pretty big hit for you.
Wendy Moten - It was such an honor for that song to go as far as it did. It was written by Curtiss Boone from Detroit, MI. Awesome songwriter and friend. I used to hear it on different formats of radio and in the elevator and at the grocery stores. Fun and surreal times. It made a connection with the people and for that I’m grateful. Secret: My vocal, in this song, is the demo. I tried recording it a few times after the demo, but, I couldn’t beat my performance, so we kept it . “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..”
Terrance - I hear that lol. You were one of the earliest artists that producer Troy Taylor worked with on the song “Step By Step”. What was that like?
Wendy Moten - He was very sure of his talent and his placement in the music business. He was talented and knew what he was doing. I was the naive one. He got me through “Step By Step” with great ease. Where is he today? Probably still producing hits.
Terrance - Yes. He’s still very active in the music industry. What was it like working with David Foster on the song, “Your Love Is All I Know”?
Wendy Moten - David Foster is amazing. He also wrote and recorded “All That My Heart Can Hold” on that same CD. He knows what he wants and can hear it before it’s recorded. He already knows it’s going to work. Again, I was too naive to be scared. I wasn’t aware of his musical history until after we had worked together. I knew his body of work, but, not his name. Then I put 2 and 2 together…Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
Terrance - You have a huge following in the Japanese and European markets. Why do you feel you were more receptive overseas than in the US?
Wendy Moten - I’m happy to have fans wherever they may be. You never know where you are going to fit in. And, unless you have an undeniable worldwide hit, it’s like shooting craps.
Terrance - Do you think power ballads and songs with melody will make a comeback?
Wendy Moten - I believe so…There are a few great artist out there. Adele is an amazing singer and interpreter of song. John Legend is amazing and writes and sings beautiful melody’s and lyrics. There are others…
Terrance - Unlike many artists, you’re one that can’t be boxed as you’ve tapped into an array of sounds from R&B, Pop, Jazz, Country and Rock. Is there a genre you haven’t done you’d like try?
Wendy Moten - Thank you so much for noticing. I think I’ve tried all of the ones I wanted to. I’ve done some Theater work in my youth and most recently I had to sing some Appalachian style singing and a few Emmylou Harris songs. It freaked people out a little. But, I love changing my voice sometimes.
Terrance - Professionally are there any regrets? Missed opportunities or chances you wished you approached in your career?
Wendy Moten - No. I’ve sang a lot…I’ve worked with a lot of my icons. I’ve recorded duets with Michael McDonald, Julio Iglesias, Kirk Whalum, Peabo and on and on. I’ve learned a lot and I’m fortunate to keep dreaming and working towards my dreams. I was so naive in the beginning, that everything that happened was amazing and anything that didn’t happen, I didn’t know to miss it. It’s been an amazing ride and I’m just getting started.
Terrance - What’s planned next?
Wendy Moten - I want to make some Wendy Moten music now. I’ve been having a great life touring and recording for other artists and I’ve learned a lot, but I’m ready to share my message with the people. I’m ready to share Love, Hope and Healing through song.
Terrance - Thank you, Wendy Moten for this opportunity and wish you the very best on your future musical journey.
Wendy Moten - No problem. You asked some Amaaaaaaaaaaaazing questions.
Terrance - Appreciate you.
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