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Studio is a 'one-stop shop' for musicians

September 14, 2010

Michael French adjusts controls in the recording
studio of Down to Hear Studios in Hickory.

Combine a California business, two brothers and a husband and wife, along with artistic talent by the truckloads and you have Down to Hear Studios.

Brothers Michael and David French moved to Hickory two years ago from Burbank, Calif., and the heart of of "studio city," where every street corner had a music studio for artists. However, the brothers found a different discovery in Hickory.

"There was a need for this facility," said Michael French. "There is all of this creativity ready to explode. We needed this place for it to happen."

Just when the crew was about to give up on a search for a building to house their studio, a location on Highland Avenue became available.

"When you decide to stop and give up, something comes up," said David French.

To add to the brothers' business of music production, comes Jeff and Carol Anne Hartman, of Hickory. The Hartmans met the French brothers two years ago through the Hickory area's various art circles. With Jeff's professional musical abilities and Carol Anne's photography and graphic design skills, Down to Hear Studios became a "one-stop shop."

The two-story studio house, located at 1717 Highland Ave. in Hickory, includes a large room that will soon become Hickory Motor Books. The upstairs is equipped with a control room, a vocal voice-over booth, a live room for bands, Jeff's composing suite and Carol Anne's photography studio. Even though the group has occupied the house for about four weeks, they are working hard creating an artistic atmosphere to welcome area talent.

From painting to scraping glue off the floor and installing new features to characterize the musical needs of incoming artists, Down to Hear Studios has the potential to be any artist's answer to prayers.

"People do record (in Hickory), but not professionally," said Jeff Hartman.

Carol Anne, who is originally from Burke County, agreed.

"People (record) in their basements," she said. "We will be a one-stop shop for musicians and artists."

Recently, the studio held a master songwriting class with singer and songwriter Kyle Vincent. Registration for the class was full in three days after advertising.

"(The class) is filling a need in the community," said David French. "It is a good thing and something that will continue."

By organizing a master songwriting class at the studio, David said they will share music written by area residents with publishers, singers and music attorneys. This is an opportunity hard to come by, according to the studio owners.

"Hickory and the surrounding areas have support for the arts," Carol Anne said. "This will be a place for artists to go and play. This will be huge because it's something they don't have."

Jeff Hartman said Down to Hear Studios is simply feeding the community's need.

"I picture a bird's nest," Jeff said. "All of the birds' heads are up, and they are wanting to be fed. We are feeding them."

At the end of the one-day songwriting class, Michael French said five new songs were written from groups formed in the class.

"On every street corner there is someone playing a guitar," Jeff Hartman said, adding some artists do not know the application behind the music being performed.

In addition to assisting artists with professional recording of their music, educational classes, such as acting and performing and songwriting classes, will be taught by Jeff Hartman. Also, Michael French will teach the art of recording music, and Carol Anne is considering hosting photography classes.

"Participants are getting an education from a place that does the work," said David French.

Like the studio's name presents, what is recorded in the studio has to be heard to be understood.

"Music is all about listening and geared to technique," said Michael French. "We all love this and do it because it's inside of us. We all like teaching it as much as we like doing it."

For more information on the careers of the French brothers and the Hartmans, as well as upcoming events at the studio, visit www.downtohear.com. You may also call (828) 638-7373.

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