Award-winning composers and lyricists Daniel and Laura Curtis have assembled 25 leading artists from both the US and UK to record the largest-ever Broadway and West End collaboration album, Overture.
Best-known for their debut album Love On 42nd Street, the duo’s work has been performed by leading musical theatre performers including Lea Salonga, Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo. The couple most recently wrote the single ‘Standing On My Own’ for Glee favourite Jenna Ushkowitz.
The Curtis’ second album, Overture, is a double CD featuring Marc Broussard, Earl Carpenter, Melinda Doolittle, Matt Doyle, Hannah Elless, Jason Forbach, Matthew Ford, Ashleigh Gray, Emma Hatton, Samantha Hill, James M Iglehart, Adam Jacobs, Arielle Jacobs, Charlotte Jaconelli, Rachel John, Adam Kaplan, Emmanuel Kojo, Kara Lily-Hayworth, Rebecca Luker, Jai McDowall, Bryce Pinkham, Courtney Reed, Krysta Rodriguez, Will Swenson and Natalie Weiss.
With Overture now available, Musical Theatre Review’s Polly Sisley spoke with Daniel about his successful writing partnership with Laura.
How did yourself and Laura first come to work together?
I was travelling around the country, looking for a pianist at the time. So, I put an advert out on Gumtree. Laura answered and that was the first time we had ever met. We quickly worked out that what we really wanted to do was write music together. I’d always written for many years, bur together we have something really unique, even though we have very different musical backgrounds. Things really changed for us in 2014, when we wrote our very first album, Love On 42nd Street. We’re now ready to announce album number two, Overture! We’re so excited to release it and get it out to the world.
What inspired you to create Overture?
Overture is really all about how music connects everybody on Earth. Music truly is a universal language. We want to take people on a musical journey. We want to make people feel happy, sad, all emotions through music.
You’ve been working with artists in both the UK and US. How did you find working in such a diverse way?
It was very difficult in terms of getting everybody to complete the recording dates. It’s taken us about 10 months to get everything complete; the very first recording was in January. Laura and I attended the recording sessions in the UK, and we were able to Skype during the US recording sessions. Most of the recordings were in New York City, but some were in New Orleans and Nashville. We really couldn’t have pulled this off without technology – it allowed a wonderful flexibility.
How do you keep ideas refreshing and new when working with somebody so often?
We’re both massive Tom Hanks fans! Occasionally we’ll put on a film and say to each other ‘Wouldn’t that just be wonderful as a musical?’ One of those films we were inspired by was You’ve Got Mail. We wrote a song based on the plot of that film called ‘No Disguise’. The other thing that keeps our ideas fresh are people’s voices. Generally, the way we write is quite straightforward: I tend to start the melody ideas and I pull them together, I then hand that over to Laura who adds to and adapts my work. She’ll add a piano arrangement to it and we’ll then sit together to write the song. Our structure just seems to work really well.
What has been your greatest hurdle during the creation of Overture?
We’ve got a little boy now! He’s coming up to 16 months old. He’s been to every single recording session. The biggest challenge we’ve had is making sure that he’s happy and not bored. Also, normally when we’re writing, we’ll sit and write for a couple of hours solid, but now it’s very much 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there. But overall I think the biggest challenge has just been trying to find that balance.
But our son really has made this album, Overture is dedicated to him. He really makes us smile. Will loves music and when he hears different songs, he claps, he listens. Every single artist we’ve worked with has loved seeing and hearing Will, even if it was just through their headset and cameras. He’s been a bit of a minor celebrity during this process. Anybody who says they can easily balance work and family life we’ve got a lot of envy for!
How have you felt about the album’s release?
It’s been so exciting. Once you finish an album, it often becomes a bit of a third party – you become detached from it in some ways, at times, it doesn’t feel like you wrote it. It’s only when you listen to the album a few weeks later that you remember what you felt like during the creating process. Some of the songs on this album we finished at the start of the year – it feels like such a long time ago.
We’re just so excited for people to hear the songs. I think the vocal performances on this album are absolutely stunning. I think everybody has gone to such an incredible effort for Overture. We just can’t believe it’s here; we thought the day would never come!
Overture is available from www.danandlauracurtis.com
* Daniel and Laura Curtis will be appearing with some very special guests on 12 March at the London Hippodrome.