• Local teacher and musician Radford Windham worked in a Nashville recording studio alongside Grammy winner Zac Brown last week as the two spent the week recording Windham’s first album—which will include many original songs inspired by Dahlonega. (Photo by Diego Pernia)

MUSIC MEN: Windham and Brown collaborate on album

Not often does a Lumpkin County High School teacher get the chance to spend a week in music studio heaven, but last week Radford Windham—an experienced musician and frontman for local band Step Back Cadillac—had the chance to record his first album with some of the industry’s top talent.

Windham, who said he tried to record an album on his own for over two years, finally came to the realization that it would be OK to ask his good friend—Dahlonega’s own Zac Brown—for a little help.

“My wife finally looked at me one day and said ‘If you really want to do this, do it, don’t wait anymore.  You have the best resource anyone could ask for,” Windham recalled.

He said a few days later when Brown was in Dahlonega, the two were riding through town  and Windham decided to ask about recording.

“Why don’t you come to Nashville with me and we will do a record together?” was Brown’s instant response, Windham said.

A couple of days later, they set the first week in December to record, and Windham recalled being “excited and nervous all at the same time.”

The two musicians—who met in 1993 in a 10th grade chorus class, Windham said—boarded Brown’s tour bus and headed to Nashville.

They arrived at Southern Ground Nashville Studio at around 2 a.m., Windham said, parked the bus right outside and walked inside and immediately started working—until about 4:30 a.m.

 

BEST IN THE BUSINESS

When the two began discussing the details of the record, Brown suggested they use studio musicians—who are accustomed to playing a song perfectly after hearing it one time, Windham said.

But he didn’t realize the plan included using some of the best musicians in the business.

The lineup included Matt Mangano from the Zac Brown Band, who played bass on all of the songs. “Matt did a fabulous job,” Windham said.

In addition, Grammy-winning musician Bryan Sutton, who Windham called “one of the best guitar players I have ever met,” recorded nine different instruments on the album. He said Sutton has toured with Ricky Scaggs, Béla Fleck and Dixie Chicks, among others.

Windham added that when they arrived at the studio, Brown called Darrell Scott to join them. Windham said Scott—who has written around 400 songs including “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive”—actually played 10 different instruments on the record.

Finally, with their studio time running out, bluegrass artist Sierra Hull joined the recording session to sing on Windham’s song “Willie and Anna Pearl.” She told Windham she had recently played at the Crimson Moon and loved being in Dahlonega.

 

ON THE ALBUM

Windham said he has had a desire to record his own album since he started playing music out in public and writing his own songs.  

“A lot of my inspiration towards writing songs comes from the Dahlonega history books written by Mrs. Anne Amerson,” Windham said. “I love Dahlonega history and there is so much good writing material about people’s lives in her books.”

He said the genre of music on the album would be classified as Americana.  

A total of 10 songs were recorded, Windham said. Six were originals and the other four songs were covers that were very important to him and Zac.

Windham said he has been a back-up singer for numerous albums, including Brown’s very first album in the late 1990’s (before The Foundation album).

“Zac and I have always been known to harmonize with each other well,” Windham said. “We had the opportunity to do this numerous times on the album.”

With a filming crew recording all the action, Windham said he will be able to relive a lot of the moments, and so will the public, through a documentary.

The the album is in the mixing stage, Windham said, and should be ready for the public sometime after the New Year.  “I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

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