News Archives: GPRC Recording Studio Opens Doors For Local Musicians
Monday, December 16th, 2019
Cecily Phelps with her Dad Brandon Phelps (left) and Shawn Pinchbeck, recording studio manager and GPRC instructor (right), working on Cecily's demo.
When Cecily Phelps learned there’s a recording studio at Grande Prairie Regional College, it was music to her ears.
The 15-year-old is working on a demo of six songs she hopes will launch her music career. Having a studio in GPRC’s Fine Arts department just minutes from the Grande Prairie Composite High School is a boon for the Grade 10 student.
The daughter of Brandon and Sheila Phelps, she finished second in GPRC’s Peace Country Rising Stars Talent Show in November.
She performed her original song, Won’t You Love me Still and received a $500 cash prize along with three hours recording time in the studio – a bonus since Cecily had already started recording her demo in the facility.
“It’s nice having it so close is a great opportunity,” says Cecily, who also plays guitar. “It’s pretty cool.”
Brandon, who was a singer in a band in his college years, was thrilled his alma mater revamped its music recording facilities and programming since he was enrolled in GPRC’s Interactive Digital Design program.
“This is where I would have thrived. It’s just absolutely amazing what GPRC built here so I thought it would be a really nice place for Cecily to record. It’s huge to have it here,” says Brandon.
Shawn Pinchbeck, recording studio manager and instructor, is delighted another talented musician is using the studio.
“It allows for professional recordings to be done within the community so musicians don’t have to travel to Edmonton, Calgary or beyond,” he says.
“We have a fantastic purpose-built facility with excellent acoustically treated isolation booths, control rooms and recital hall. We have top-notch microphones, monitors, mixers and computer interfaces – well beyond what someone can afford in their home studio. Complete albums have been recorded here in the last six months.”
Pinchbeck has various individuals using the studio weekly and there are regular customers that return for all their projects.
“The public can pay our very modest studio fees to be recorded in the studios. We get filmmakers, bloggers, musicians and other individuals through the studio weekly,” he says.
“Our equipment and facility rival studios at major universities anywhere in the world,” he says.
GPRC students in Music Technology courses learn how to use all the hardware and software and have access to the studios for their courses. Fine Arts students in Visual Arts and Drama have access to the studios as a place to record and learn about sound.
“I facilitate their activities in the studios. Other departments are welcome to record in the studios. I have worked with Educational Technologies, the Library, Continuing Education and other departments in the College,” says Pinchbeck.
Pinchbeck expects the studio will be instrumental in launching the careers of many Grande Prairie-area musicians.
“My goal is to grow our outreach to young artists, recording engineers and producers in northern Alberta, letting them know that they can record professional-quality projects locally,” says Pinchbeck.
“I also am actively growing the course offerings in Music and Audio Technology at GPRC to train the next generations of recording engineers and musicians in the tools they need to succeed.”
Pinckbeck has more than 30 years of experience as a musician and instructor and is more than willing to share his knowledge.
“I’m happy to speak to artists about any questions they have or advice they need to further their career goals through education, recording or anything else.”
“I don’t need to dream. I work with several young artists in Grande Prairie who are sure to go places,” says Pinchbeck.
What fuelled Cecily’s recording dream was a chance opportunity to sing with Grande Prairie-born country music star Tenille when she was in Grade 6.
“My aunt is very good friends with Tenille’s family so Tenille would come and do house concerts for the Christmas holidays. One year, we got invited and she asked if anyone wanted to sing and I said, ‘I’ll sing’ so we sang Taylor Swift and it was eye opening.
“I love her music because her songs tell stories and are meaningful. They touch my heart. She’s a great role model and very talented.”
Cecily hasn’t developed a particular style yet. Listeners will find influences of country, pop and folk. She has a deep appreciation for all genres of music over time. Her trademark is that every song she’s written has a story to it.
“It’s not just mumbo jumbo you would hear on the radio.”
“Cecily’s got more talent in one finger than I do when it comes to playing instruments,” says Brandon. “I just like to sing and write songs. I never helped her with any of her songs. She just has the gift. I guess I planted the seed.”
The Phelpses recognized talent in Cecily when she was a young child.
“She was always singing and dancing in the living room since she was little. She would sing all day and all night,” Brandon says. “She’d open up her window and sing to the neighbours. She was singing in the shower for as long as I can remember.
“I knew she had a talent and it was very special. It was just a matter of when she decided to run with it.”