Interview With Alex Asaph Ward
People have seen the name Asaph (Alex)ander Ward as the producer on many artist albums.
He has produced such artists as Men of Standard, Brent Jones, Londa Larmond, The Tommies, Kim Burrell and the newest music from Virtue. Ward has also produced the live portion of Dorinda Clark-Cole's award winning debut album.
Gospelflava.com talked with Asaph Ward so that people could gain insight into his production methods and his heart for Gospel music.
Gospelflava.com: You produced some very nice praise and worship songs on the new Virtue album, Free. Tell us about the work you did with Virtue.
Asaph A. Ward:
First of all, I would like to say that it was an honor. I like working with singers that have skill. I always knew that there were voices inside of them that really wanted to come out.
They are real artists. They get up every morning, work out and eat breakfast, and they have their water. They practice, practice, practice. They are very serious in the studio when it comes to working. I didn't have one problem out of them. They are creative. They were willing to try anything.
I must say that there were moments were they really got emotional in the booth. They were crying while they were singing their songs, they took it very seriously. They really took the songs that I did with them very seriously. That's why you are getting what you are getting on that record.
Gospelflava.com: You collaborated with Dorinda Clark-Cole to create an instant classic. Tell us about the obvious chemistry between the two of you.
Asaph A. Ward: First of all, there is one thing that we both have in common we're both musicians. That's the thing that kind of drew us together, because she's very creative and she doesn't mind trying things that are "out of the box".
When we prepared for the album, we sat down a lot. On some of the songs, I would get on the piano and she would sing them to me. On others, she would play them for me. Then I would take and add my two cents. That's pretty much how Dorinda and I work together. That's pretty much how Dorinda and I work together. Some people don't know that Dorinda plays keyboards.
We were working on "I'm Coming Out" people don't really know how that came about. We were at her sister, Karen Clark Sheard's house and we were just sitting around the piano. Dorinda started singing this song. I got on the piano and started playing around with it. I would say within ten minutes we did the whole song. I went home, put all the music together, and we just made it happen. We work
very well together. I love working with her. We are getting ready to get together to do some songwriting for the next record.
The Free from Virtue was released in 2003, and features the production of Alex Asaph Ward. Many consider it to be the group's strongest album to date. |
See album review.
Gospelflava.com: Miranda, your wife, is always included on the projects that you produce. Tell us what she brings to your projects.
Asaph A. Ward: Whew! I've been knowing Miranda my whole life pretty much. She's a music buff. She understands a lot of music genres. Growing up, she was exposed to country, pop, rock and R&B. So she has all those musical influences in her. Together we write powerful songs.
She wrote with me on the Virtue album, three songs, to be exact. She co-wrote, "It's Not Supposed to Be This Way" on the Everlasting Life album by Kim Burrell. She's done a lot of co-writes on other albums and she has written songs on other projects that we're working on. She's an awesome writer. If I ask her to, she'll write like three or four songs a day.
Vocally, she has a voice that no one else has. You can tell when she's singing. You hear her on "Spiritual Things" on Brent Jones' album as well as "I Come to You More Than I Give" by Kim Burrell. She brings a vocal touch to what [our] Miralex [production company] does.
Gospelflava.com: What approach do you take for producing each artist?
Asaph A. Ward: One theory that I have is that you can't do a project without an artist I always look at an artist as a co-producer. Even though they are not producing it, per se, I get into the artist's head. I took that same approach with Kim Burrell. Kim knew what she wanted. Kim is original. I let her play the piano and sing around me. I sat down with her for days and let her talk to me and tell me about her experiences, what she's done, what type of music that she likes and just getting into her style. I do that with every artist. I sit down and get to know the artist's style.
It's very important to me that every artist has their own sound. I don't want to be a producer whose projects all have the same sound. The only way to do that is to let the artist's touch come in. If you listen to all of my projects, you'll find that none of them sound alike. I fuse with the artists for their projects. It's not me, but it's the artist and me. We create something that no one else can create. The way I see it, without the artist, I am nothing!
I ask the artist a lot of questions about what they want to get across to their listeners. I want to find out what burden they have on their heart. I like to write songs based on what the artist wants to do, so they can be comfortable. So
once I get to know an artist, I just run with it. Together we create something that can't be duplicated. That way an artist can take a sound and build off of that.
Live in Concert|
Few will argue that Dorinda Clark-Cole has one of the most distinctive and creative voices in Gospel. With her high register rasp, the full force of her glorious pipes is unleased on this, her solo debut. Alex Ward produced the live portion of the album. |
See album review.
I don't take no for an answer I know what you can do. That's how I get the best vocals out of artists. I'm going to get a good vocal out of an artist and I'm going to make sure that they are doing their best. I don't care if they are in my own artist genre, I can't do anything but 100% on everything that I work on. I can't do less. I have to be consistant.
Gospelflava.com: Who are you currently working with?
Asaph A. Ward: Of course, who am I working with next? Well, I'm going to be collaborating with Kim Burrell again. We've been talking and if God says the same, you will see us working together. I'm about to work with Dorinda Clark-Cole on her next album. I'm working with Kierra Sheard. I did a piano piece for a piano CD that John P. Kee is going to be putting out. I am putting a lot of energy into my own artists. I have four artists that are under my production company that I'm going to be releasing in the near future.
My female group is High Praise. My wife is in that group. You can hear them singing on Kim Burrell's album, Brent Jones and the TP Mobb's album, Dorinda Clark Cole's album and a few others. I have a group called The 7, comprised of 2 males and 5 females. I have a male solo artist, Gene Moore Jr. and a female solo artist named Stephanie Archer. We are like one big family. Everyone can sing and everyone is anointed. It's music that no one has really heard before, so it's going to be kind of a new style that you are going to be hearing from these artists.
I also worked on Shawn McClemore's next album. This is an amazing project featuring John P. Kee, Donnie McClurkin, Nicki Ross and Gene Moore, Jr.
I'm working with Evangelist Crystal Rucker. We are getting ready to finish her album and she's going to blow the roof off of the place. She's been really working and waiting for her opportunity. We're just seeking God about how to go about her record, but we're ready to work on it. We've done a couple of live songs already. We're getting ready to go in the studio and finish the studio portion. So those are my next ventures.
Gospelflava.com: Can we expect a solo project from Asaph Ward himself?
Asaph A. Ward: Yeah. After I release the artists on my production company, you are going to hear an album out of me that I think will be 'ahead of its time', so to speak. I'm going to sing and play and include my friends on there too. I hope to have the most ridiculous musicians that you will ever hear. It's going to be called, Psalms of Asaph. You're going to hear some new ways of introducing Christ.
I need to get these other artists out first. But yes, you can definitely look for an album from me.
Gospelflava.com: If you could work with a few people, who would you work with that you haven't worked with yet?
Asaph A. Ward: I would actually like to combine with some of the ones that are going against the grain and are really exposed to the world. I would like to work with Kirk Franklin. I would definitely like to work with Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda
Adams of course Fred Hammond, Kurt Carr, Canton Spirituals, Smokie Norful and John P. Kee.
The high energy continues with tracks such as Alex Ward productions "Spiritual Things" and "Holy Ghost High", a west-coast vibed track with guitars from Jonathan Dubose Jr. that chronicles the beauty of being under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Brent Jones and Mobb continue to excel at putting that easy ‘sit back and ride’ flow to their material |
See album review.
I also would like to work with artists that are challengeable, artists that have something, but can't quite find it I want to get with those artists and help them bring that out.
It's not just a business for me, because I could just do secular music. I want to help souls. I want to make a difference. I want to work with anybody that wants to do that.
I like to work with anyone that is participating in the warfare, reaching the ones that won't normally go to church. I want to reach people who've been through something. That's church people and worldly people. I don't want to just look at the church people and encourage them. There are worldly people that have been through something. There are a lot of worldly people that have been hurt.
Asaph Ward is a man on a mission. He has great vision, a heart for God and great artists on his roster. We've heard great things from Alex, but expect to hear even greater things out of this artist producer. Get ready because Miralex is going to take it's rightful place as a force to be reckoned with in the Gospel music industry and beyond.
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