Sunday, July 16, 2023

"Love Party" - New Summertime Song from Rehya Stevens!

Hello all!  Mid-Summer greetings to you!  I have a special treat for you today, a diversion from the heat and humidity (if that's your part of the country's pervasive weather).  Merry and Bright! favorite Rehya Stevens has a new song hitting the stream-waves (and, we hope, an airwave or two...).   I am super-pleased to be able to share not only all the info about "Love Party", but also an exclusive Q&A with creators Rehya Stevens and Jamie Dunlap.

Long time Merry and Bright! readers know Rehya Stevens - extraordinary singer and songwriter of many a Christmas song, supporter of the Christmas music community, and fabulous human being.  Jamie Dunlap, though, may be new to many readers.  You may have heard of a little TV show called South Park?  Jamie Dunlap is the composer of the music in South Park, beginning his run with the show back in 2000 and spanning more than 160 episodes.  Jamie is a highly sought-after award-winning composer and producer in the television and film business.  In addition to South Park, Jamie has composed music for Pair of Kings, Mighty Med, and Kirby Buckets. And, if you check out his IMDB page, you'll see that he has soundtrack credits in many Christmas movies (A Christmas in Royal Fashion, A Royal Christmas Ball, Christmas Wonderland, just to name a few).  A+ cred, my friends.

Rehya and Jamie collaborated and created "Love Party", released this past June.  "Love Party" is a celebration of life, love, joy, and inclusion.  It's full of energy, it's colorful and exuberant, and is truly a feel-good song for your Summer playlists.

Rehya and Jamie graciously took some time to answer a few questions about "Love Party".  After the Q&A are the links to "Love Party" and additional info.  Enjoy!

"Love Party" Q&A with Rehya Stevens and Jamie Dunlap

Merry & Bright: I’m so happy to learn more about “Love Party” straight from the creative duo behind this amazing song! Let’s get right into this – how did “Love Party” come about?

Rehya: Thanks Aaron! It’s fun to talk about “Love Party” with you. The song isn’t seasonal, but it’s celebratory! Jamie and I were recording a song for the South Park XBox video game “The Stick of Truth,” and shared an in-depth conversation about the social and economic divide in Los Angeles - where we were both living at the time. A few days after that recording session, he sent me the track for “Love Party” with a “Hey, girl! What do you think? Wanna take a crack at this?” I responded immediately with “Yes!! Let’s make this a song about inclusivity!!” I was so inspired by the BIG energy of the track – the melody and lyrics wrote themselves, quite honestly. It all started from our conversational mustard seed, and grew from there!

Rehya Stevens

Jamie: I first met Rehya through a friend and fellow songwriter some years back as I was looking for different singers for a project. I was so impressed by her work ethic and professionalism, I asked her if she wanted to collaborate from the ground up. She's a rare force that is inspiring, motivating, and not afraid to push things a little further. And as I recall Love Party was the first born.. Her timeless lyric applies to the here and now.

Rehya still has that innocence wrapped into a powerhouse with the thought that music CAN still be a strong medicine for anyone, regardless of race, gender, age, political affiliations and so forth.. We were all once kids growing up thinking that in some way, we could save the world.. Hold onto that childish innocence..

MB: Have the two of you collaborated on any musical projects before? Or is this a first?

Rehya: I was fortunate to be on the call list as a vocalist for many of Jamie’s songs for several years. Jamie and his co-writer, David Feldstein were creating a library of music together, and needed a female session singer for their songs. Dave lived less than a mile from me, so I’d pop over to his house and record for a few hours - and by the end of the day, they’d send me the final mix. They were so FAST!! A lot of those songs wound up in Hallmark and Lifetime movies - and in various tv shows. It was fun to see those songs get placed. “Love Party” was the first song that Jamie and I wrote together.

Jamie: While Love Party was in the works, we worked together on some cues and tracks for Stick Of Truth, South Park and Hallmark. The game (SOT) had a section with the goth kids from the show, so it was a cool chance to write something with vocals.. I had this loosely sketched melody and as I recall she nailed it in one or two takes...

Jamie Dunlap

MB: So – “Love Party” the song – wow! So much energy, so much brightness and positivity! Was the creation of the song sort of a self-catalyzing process, like the more you got into it, the more spark and spirit you were able to draw from it?

Rehya: Recording that vocal was really when the physical energy was unleashed for me. We didn’t do much punching in – most of the vocal was first take stuff - Jamie really wanted it to be raw and not too over produced. I MAY have given him grief for that – but he won in the end, rightfully so.

When I’m writing, I’m pretty introspective and deep inside the world that I’m creating. I was picturing a world where everyone is welcome. Where there’s no rancor, no axe to grind. In my mind, the “Love Party” is simply a healing space. Love does that. Knowing that you belong does that. I think we allow all the good energy in when we let go of pain and tune in to the love that surrounds us in the moment. Music does that for me – it changes my mental and emotional state. It’s medicine.

Jamie: Actually I think Rehya's message was clear from the start.. The energy and sensitivity wrapped in her lyric was a no brainer for me regarding which way the track could be produced. It was a process, but well worth the efforts..

MB: The lyrics “Bring the love tonight Red, yellow, black, white Every color of the rainbow” are a powerful message of inclusion. The June 30 release of “Love Party” was just a few days following the Supreme Court decision regarding protected speech, which has significant impact to the LGBTQ+ community. Especially in light of this decision, how do you hope that “Love Party” can be a positive influence on our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, and on our nation at large?

Rehya: I hope that “Love Party” becomes an anthem for the LGBTQ community, and for anyone who is fighting the good fight for freedom. I think it’s ridiculous for anyone to try to control love. Love is wild - and love is love. My grade school gym instructor was gay - I thought he was so fabulous, and such a beautiful human being!! He lit up the entire class for us kids with his unbridled enthusiasm. I looked forward to seeing him every day. There were whispers and judgements in the schoolyard about his sexuality, and it hurt to hear that… he was so kind, and so good to everyone.

When I lived in Hollywood while attending The Musician’s Institute, I got to know the trans community a little bit just from walking back and forth to school everyday. Many of them were living on the streets, having been kicked out of their homes by their parents. One woman would say things to me like, “Hey honey! One of these days, will you sing a song for me? You’re so focused when you walk – I wanna know what’s going on in that mind of yours! I want to hear your music, girl!” Even though she was suffering, there was so much light in her spirit. I wish I could’ve sung “Love Party” to her. I want the LGBTQ community to know that I support them - and I hope the song will help them in even bigger ways in the future. I’m not sure how that would transpire, but I would love to see it happen. Hopefully the song will take on a life of its own as it blooms.

Jamie:  Well, let me put it this way: I believe that each one of us, no matter your beliefs, can make a difference. Even in the smallest amount. But the hard part now is that certain beliefs and rhetorical views have gradually beaten down this belief system over the years, and the outcome has often stripped away the thought process of being unique.. So, it ain't gonna be easy! In essence we are fighting for our survival rights...

Everything that's ever been successful, has started from just a small spark, the ember, starting with one thought - One soul that had the courage to speak out against the non-believers..That energy turns into a positive wave of souls colliding.. History has shown that one collective thought process can manifest the light needed to defeat the darkness that haunts us all in different ways..

MB: The lyric video for “Love Party” is fabulous. The vibrant colors, the performers in the video – it all comes together to strengthen the song’s message of love, joy, and inclusion. Can you tell us about the artists that created the video?

Rehya: Thank you! I produced the lyric video, and it was SO fun!! Seeing everyone having a good time, celebrating their unique spirit in their own skin was beautiful. I played with gritty filters, glowing fonts, and arranged it to include as many perspectives as possible from a diverse array of human beings. I love the little girl DJ’ing, I love the beautiful trans woman waving her flag, I love the kids in the ghetto, the dancers expressing their art – it’s all beautiful to me. Producing the video was like taking the movie that was in my head while writing the song, and delivering it visually. I hope people connect with it and enjoy the diversity - and see how beautiful diversity is.

MB: Thank you so much for taking some time to tell us all about “Love Party”. It’s a tremendous new song for the Summer of 2023. Are there any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Rehya:  I just want to thank you Aaron - for all of your support, your friendship, and your good heart. Thank you for supporting independent artists like myself, and thank you for supporting inclusivity for all.

Jamie:  The world today is in a strange flux. There's much work to be done to reenact tolerance and compassion, especially in the younger generations to come.. So regardless of what we "Think" is really happening, Let's take a moment to remember our mother, Mother Earth. She has a way of reminding us of just how small, yet how big of an effect our actions can have.. ...Mother Music !!!

And also, look up from your devices every now and then.. lol..


Bonus!  For everyone still paying attention :-)  "It Feels Like Christmas" video - written by Jamie Dunlap and David Feldstein, feat. Rehya Stevens on vocals


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