LOCAL MUSIC: Upper Dublin’s Forge Recording works with musicians of all kinds

A wall enshrining the many recordings made at Forge Recording in Upper Dublin.
A wall enshrining the many recordings made at Forge Recording in Upper Dublin. PHOTOS BY BRIAN BINGAMAN — DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
A section of the mixing board in the main control room at Forge Recording.
A section of the mixing board in the main control room at Forge Recording.

Forge Recording lead engineer Ron DiSilvestro plays back some new songs by a diverse array of area artists.

Leading off is the single “Lost Boy” by “The Voice” Season 6 singer Josh Howard. Later comes a country tune by Michael Meade called “Walkin’ That Line,” followed by an ode to “memory lane” by jazz singer Lee J. Harold. The tracks were all recorded at the recording studio that’s just off of Pennsylvania Avenue in Upper Dublin.

R&B singer Shonse Hawkins, who goes by the stage name “Madonna Black,” recorded her single “Royalty” here. “I love it here because it’s not all rappers and it’s not all rockers. It’s people who really wanna make it a community,” she said.

Photos on the walls capture “American Idol” alumni Taylor Hicks and Justin Guarini, funk legend Bernie Worrell, Gina Zo from “The Voice” (four singers that appeared on the NBC show are recording at Forge), in-demand bassist Nathan East and others at work in the Forge studios.

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Carvin Haggins — whose gold and platinum plaques are shining examples of his producing/engineering work on movie soundtracks and albums by Will Smith, Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott and others — has called Forge Recording his home base for more than a year and half. At the moment, he is in a control room, known as “The Blue Room,” with up-and-coming singer BriaMarie. They are listening to a new single called “Grass is Greener.” It comes on the heels of the video (which features a humorous cameo by Haggins) for her song, “Bad Habit,” which had well over 1,000 views after five days on YouTube.

Other talents he has been working with lately include Stokely Williams of Mint Condition, and Montina Cooper, who is seeking her own turn in the spotlight after being a backup singer for Beyonce the last 15 years. Haggins said that just as the music industry gave him a chance to succeed, thanks to his friendships with Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, he is also willing to take a chance on hard working young talent. “It starts with an interview ... what do they know about music, and how do they perceive the music industry? Why do they want to be a star?,” he said.

The studio also has something called “The Academy at Forge Recording,” which offers a rehearsal room (The Green Room), lessons and more. Drew Brightbill, a former journalist from Colorado now living in the region, has written close to 130 songs and is working on a four-song EP with his band, Words In Flight. According to Brightbill, Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists has committed to contributing accordion parts on the recording.

“I love working with these guys — top notch,” he said.

Discover more at www.forgerecording.com and www.facebook.com/forgerecordingstudios.