> Maddy Prior > Songs > Forgiveness
SunSign Records, no catalogue # (CD single, USA, 2000)
Written, arranged, and produced by Jennifer Cutting;
Recorded at Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Oxfordshire, England, by George Shilling;
Bass track by Rico Petruccelli recorded at Bias Recording Company, Springfield, Virginia, by Jim Robertson;
Mixed by Bob Dawson at Bias
This track was released as a single in 2000. It was included in 2002 on the Park Records anthology Women in Folk.
Jennifer Cutting: piano, Hammond B-3 organ;
Maddy Prior: vocal;
John Jennings: electric guitar;
Dave Mattacks: drums
Cutting Releases “Forgiveness,”
recorded with Maddy Prior and Folk-Rock All-Stars at U.K. Sessions
North America’s “Maestro of Electric Folk” Jennifer Cutting, who masterminded the U.S.’s critically acclaimed electric folk band The New St. George, triumphantly breaks through th the international level under her own banner with her new single Forgiveness. Cutting assembled an all-star cast of legendary folk-rockers from both sides of the Atlantic for the recording sessions on the momentous day of 11 August 1999, when all of Britain waited breathlessly for the Total Eclipse of the Sun. While worldwide media swarmed the country and thousands flocked to Cornwall, Cutting’s All-Stars watched the eclipse privately from the grounds of England’s renowned Chipping Norton Studios, located in a quiet Cotswold village. Of the three songs recorded at Chipping Norton, Cutting has chosen Forgiveness as her first release of the new millennium, as both a hope for the new, and a celestial benediction for the old.
Singing the majestic lead vocals on Forgiveness is England’s First Lady of Song, Maddy Prior, whose soaring voice helped to bring British folk-rock band Steeleye Span a string of hit records. Cutting’s relationship with Prior dates back to the days when, as New St. George’s impassioned bandleader, she and Prior ended up sharing the same stages. “We opened for Steeleye at our D.C.-area club the Birchmere on year,” Cutting remembers, “and later, we shared the bill with Maddy and Friends at Toronto’s El Mocambo club for the 1994 Mariposa Folk Festival. It was a great honor when I looked out into the audience, and realised that Maddy had listened intently to our whole set. Later, as we were packing up, she complimented me on my songwriting, and asked me for a song. From then on, we became correspondents.”
Busy multi-Granny-winning guitarist/producer John Jennings (of Mary Chapin Carpenter fame) paid Cutting the ultimate compliment by flying all the way to England from his home near Washington D.C. just to play the sessions. His relationship with Cutting dates back to his involvement as producer for a few of the tracks of the New St. George’s CD High Tea on the Folk Era label way back in 1992.
Jennings brought into the fold legendary Fairport Convention drummer (and current Mary Chapin Carpenter bandmate) Dave Mattacks. One of England’s greatest drummers (and the one who well nigh invented British folk-rock), Dave Mattacks can be heard on Richard Thompson’s most recent album Mock Tudor, performing with the newest lineup of Steeleye Span; and on Paul McCartney’s new album Run Devil Run, recorded in Abbey Road Studios last year.
In an important rite of passage for Cutting, the musicians who had once been her greatest idols now accepted her as a peer. Making time in their very busy schedules, and working for far less than scale, this collection of hard-to-impress veterans rallied around her in a way that no amount of money could buy, their support and admiration plain to see. An amazed Dave Mattacks asked Cutting’s road crew, “Is all her material this good?” John Jennings was visibly moved during playback, calling Forgiveness “big and gorgeous.” Upon receipt of the final mix, an excited Maddy Prior gushed into Cutting’s answering machine, pronouncing it “Stunning!”
Industry songwriting greats Hal Ketchum, Tom Paxton, and Steve Seskin felt the same in 1996, when, as judges, they awarded Cutting’s song First Prize at the prestigious Merle Watson Memorial Song Contest. About her winning song, Cutting says, “I think that Forgiveness is the best song I’m capable of writing - and the task of forgiving is the hardest, but the most important, work we could ever do. We all struggle with it, in our relationships with ex-es, family members, and former business partners; and on a larger level, the same struggle goes on between races and religions.”
“When I wrote the song, I was struggling to make sense on an overwhelming hurt, and I wanted to write a song that sounded the way that Forgiveness would feel, if I could reach that place. And the greatest thing happened - when I finished writing and recording it, hearing the song really did give me that feeling of sweetness, of release - that our hearts are larger then we think they are. I’m hoping it will help others feel uplifted, too.”
“It was such an important song to me that I wanted a truly heavenly lineup of musicians to bring it to life,” says Cutting, who wrote, arranged, and produced the power-rock ballad, as well as playing piano and Hammond B-3 organ. She enthuses, “Everyone played and sang as if divinely inspired, with Dave sounding absolutely symphonic; John playing British folk-rock as if he had done it all his life, and giving Richard Thompson a good run for his money; and Maddy soaring above it all, singing more transcendently than I have ever heard her. The atmosphere at the sessions was heady and electrically charged... The joy we took in the song and in making music together translated directly onto the recording and it is a MIGHTY sound! Play it loud until the rafters ring!”
The road to Forgiveness has been anything but easy. It took Cutting an unprecedented nine months to write the song, and another four years of planning to bring so many busy and celebrated musicians together under one roof for an international recording session. No stranger to patience, determination, and deferred gratification, she made her mark nationally by leading a group of local musicians on a ten-year journey from a basement practice room to North America’s largest festival stages. But with the release of her first international recording Forgiveness, Cutting wins the admiration of the legends, and takes her place as a talent of word class.
Forgiveness is available as a CD single from SunSign Records, or as an mp3 file from Riffage.com. Find ordering links, photos of the sessions, and an audio preview of Forgiveness on the Jennifer Cutting web site.
[press release © Scott Miller, 2000]