DAVID BURNHAM. My goodness! What a voice! That was the thought when we first had the opportunity to hear his record “One Day.” Along with some new original songs, Burnham tackles “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and “Unchained Melody,” and let me tell you the results are pretty spectacular!
Then there is this interview. David Burnham is a Broadway singer and joins us to talk about his background and this album, which is a follow-up to his debut recording “David Burnham.” Burnham sings with symphonies all over the country and his solo concerts have reached Europe in addition to the United States and Canada. We hope you enjoy this interview with this singer.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s our pleasure is with great pleasure, to welcome a singer, a song writer, a recording artist, a performer, Broadway’s David Burnham. Thank you so much for joining us, it’s a great pleasure to welcome you.
It’s really my pleasure to be here Paul.
My first question. I’ve affixed a lot of labels to you (David laughs) but who is David Burnham at heart?
Who is David Burnham at heart? Well I guess at heart, I’m an artist, basically I am happiest when I am creating my music and performing and just being creative in any different venue or whether it’s a record or whether it’s on stage, as long as I get to do what I love, which is to perform, then I’m happy.
Well take us back a little bit, what was life like growing up?
Well, I grew up on a farm, about an hour outside of Los Angeles, in a small town called Fontana, which we lovingly call ‘Fontucky’, didn’t know I could sing until I was a junior in High School, I was trying to get into wood shop class and that class was full, so the only class they had available was choir, went into choir and opened my mouth and I could sing, found out I really loved it and luckily I had a great choir director and he kind of took me under his wing and encouraged me to pursue music and I ended up getting a scholarship to college on a music scholarship and went from there and just started performing and I’ll just sing for anything I can find and just started working in musical theatre.
What was your favourite music growing up?
My favourite music growing up, well I had a lot of different influences, my Dad loved Gospel music, and he also loved like, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, so I was exposed to a lot of really great crooners when I grew up and also, I enjoy some of the classic musical theatre performers such as John Ray in Carousel, and some of those guys really belted out tunes, I really enjoyed that growing up.
Tell me about the first time you dreamed of Broadway?
I had always been a fan of musicals since I was a kid, I would watch them on TV and stuff, but probably not until High School did I start getting the bug when I realised I could sing, I thought ‘well maybe I could actually be in a musical,’ that’s when it all happened for me as far as I started getting the bug, and then when I went to college and studied more, the more I studied the more I loved it, and then eventually I got my big break.
You mentioned some of the song writers that you heard growing up, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, what about now, what singers have caught your ear?
You know who I’m listening to now a lot? Is Adele, she’s got her new album, it’s just so fantastic and I really love what she’s doing musically, she really sings and her writing is just beautiful, ‘Rolling In The Deep’ is a terrific song, so I’m really into her right now, like I said, I have a lot of… very eclectic taste, I’ve always listened to a lot of different things, I listen to classical music even, and a lot of my influences comes from the past as well as what is current right now.
What is it you like about performing?
Well, performing live is a rush like nothing else, it’s that real exchange of energy between you and an audience, it’s immediate, it’s thrilling, you know, if you’re singing a song and you know that the audience is really on board with you and they’re really into it, then there’s this really great exchange of energy that happens that is just so much fun, and when you do a recording, you know, it’s great in the studio and you do the songs, but you don’t know how people are reacting or responding to it, so that’s the difference between doing a record and performing live, I think it’s that audience response.
Well speaking of the record, the new record from David Burnham is ‘One Day,’ what do you think about your new album?
Well, I’m thrilled with it, it took over a year to make, we weren’t doing it every day for a year, you know, I would go in and I’d do a show here and there and I’d come back and work really hard for a couple of months and then go do something else, but it’s everything I hoped it would be, it’s combining my song writing, my singing and music that I love, some classic standards and I got to work with.. I have a camp for kids called ‘Camp Sing’ that I do and three of the tracks actually feature the kids from my camp singing a big choir thing and was really fun to work with those kids and be able to put them on the album, turned out really beautiful and really inspirational and really proud of that.
This record is dedicated to your Mom, tell us about that.
Well, my mom was always my biggest supporter in life, when I was 8 years old growing up on the farm I would go out and I would kind of serenade the pigs, sing to the cattle and the pigs and I came in one day after singing something to the pigs and as an 8 year old boy and told my mom “Mom, you have to write to MGM because I’m now good enough to be in a musical I think,” she looked down at me and said “David, whatever you do with your life makes you happy, you do what makes you happy,” she has always been so supportive of me and I lost her to cancer a few years ago and so this album really expresses the love and appreciation I have for my mom and everything she did to me and everything she was for me.
Tell us about Mark Vogel who produced this record and he wrote a few of the songs.
Yes, Mark Vogel is a brilliant composer and pianist, we actually met a little over a year ago, we were working on a… a workshop of a new musical, new Broadway musical, we hit it off really well, he was actually starting to work on Camp Sing, he had an idea about camp and approached me about that, and so we started working on that and realised musically we are very similar in our style and how we work, and he writes a lot of music for Fox television and scores for movies and stuff like that, we just instantly hit it off and started recording and trying, you know, just one or two songs and that worked and so we ended up doing the whole album together and I’m just thrilled, now he goes on tour with me anyway, when I do my concerts he’s my Music Director and I’m really thankful that I found him cause he’s terrific.
Could you pick a favorite song from the album?
Wow, it’s like they’re all my children (David laughs) it’s hard to pick one, I have favourites for different reasons, you know I really love the way ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ turned out, I told Mark I really wanted to do a different take on it, not just the same kind of gospel take that everyone does, so I had this idea for a kind of Celtic feel and I think he really nailed it and gave us this really unique sound and then, you know, some of the new tunes that we wrote are kind of bubblegum pop if you will, they’re kind of really catchy and fun and they just put me in a good mood every time I listen to them and then the other ones like ‘Unchained Melody’, the string lines on it are so gorgeous, every time I listen to them it’s like wow, you made it sound like a movie, they soar and it’s beautiful, then of course the song I dedicated to my mom called ‘Fly Again’ is very personal to me because that particular song is… I think about her every time I hear it.
Tell us about this song ‘Three Little Words’.
‘Three Little Words’, that was a song that I wrote with Mark Vogel, it was interesting, any new song takes a journey and that one was no different, it started out as actually… we were going to call it ‘One Little Word’ based on the idea that, you know, “just go out with me, say ‘yes’ and give me that one word and I’ll, you know, I’ll be right there”, but aswe started writing one thing leads to another and you just make different choices and it ended up being ‘Three Little Words’, which means, you know, “just say I love you” and so once we got that then it all kind of fell into place. It’s kind of my nod to the 60s a little bit, it’s got a little retro feel to it, I’ve got like, lots of backup vocals on it, got tight harmonies and we took a little retro flare with it and then tried to add… make it modern, so I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
Another song on the album ‘One Day’ is a song ‘Beautiful,’ tell us about that track.
Well, “Beautiful,” it’s.. I co wrote that one also with Mark Vogel and my engineer, Luke Tozer, it was his idea to start writing that song, he was just nominated for a Grammy for Katy Perry’s album this year, and he was fresh off that and he was like “I have this idea for a song”, it actually started with a rhythm he had in his head, the drum track, this drum rhythm he had, so he played us that and then Mark sat around the piano and said “what if we put this kind of a melody with it” and then I came on and said “I have an idea for a lyric” and so the three of us kind of combined together and came up with ‘Beautiful,’ which is probably the most pop, maybe one of the most pop tracks on the album. It’s a different color and I think it turned out really cool and it was a lot of fun to record and the processes is really collaborative and interesting.
What is the best part about being David Burnham?
(David laughs) Well, I am blessed that I get to do what I love to do and that’s perform and write music and sing songs, I’m just so thrilled that I don’t have to, you know, have a nine to five job, I get to perform and for me that is the greatest gift, I can’t imagine doing anything else and I’m so lucky that I get to sing for my supper (David and Paul laugh).
Well, is there anything on the horizon?
You know, the new album just came out so we’re starting to promote it, so we’re going to be doing lots of concerts, and putting a tour together and going to take this record on the road, and the eventual goal is to go overseas and play Europe and whoever will have us and listen to our music.
Any desire to sing in Atlanta?
Yeah, I love Atlanta, Georgia. I actually did “Light in the Piazza there, and that’s a great town, great town. I would come to Atlanta in a heartbeat.
Alright, well, just putting that out there. (Paul and David laugh)
And that’s where the Paul Leslie Show is based from, is Atlanta?
That’s right, but we have listeners all over. It’s kind of interesting, we actually have more listeners in New York City than any other place.
Oh wow, that’s so cool.
I don’t know why that is but…
(David and Paul laugh) Well that’s great. Well I love Atlanta, it’s a beautiful city and the people are really nice, I had a good time there.
I know that this one’s just come out and you’re promoting this one, but are you already thinking in the back of your mind, does it ever pop up like…the next record?
Yes, we’re already starting and it’s going to be the Christmas album.
Hopefully ready a year from now. It won’t be ready this Christmas, but the following Christmas. I’m crazy for Christmas. I’ve always loved it and I think my voice suits it pretty well, cause you can do some big singing for Christmas stuff. (David laughs)
Well, I have one final question. No matter where somebody is when they’re listening to this interview, what would you like to say to all the people who are listening in?
I would just say pursue your dreams, pursue your dreams, if.. it can happen if you make it happen. I’m living proof, I got out there and I made this album and it’s a lot of work, but boy, the payoffs are great, just inside you feel so great if you actually get to do what you love to do and so keep pursuing your dreams.
And everybody out there that wants to find out more about you, they can visit lmlmusic.com they can also visit your website for more information and what would that be?
That’s it, they can find out touring information, information on my records and where I’ll be next and all that stuff.
Well Mr. Burnham, I appreciate this interview very much.
Well thank you Mr. Leslie, it’s my pleasure.
All right, well you have a fantastic day.
You too and thanks for listening to my music.
TRANSCRIBED BY ROSALIND WINTON.