Local singer Sunnymarz Workman’s new song says ‘We Will Survive the Fire’
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Local singer Sunnymarz Workman crossed a milestone when she releasing her first official single, “Will We Survive the Fire,” on February 26.
The song, which she called “A cry for the misunderstood to be loved, understood by those they love unconditionally,” can be found on all digital platforms including Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Amazon and YouTube Music.
Workman, whose family owns 11 Hauz Jamaican restaurant at Kimball Junction, wrote the song two months ago.
“It came pretty quickly,” she said. “I wrote the melody and the piano chords in 10 minutes, and I wrote the lyrics in 20.”
The song was inspired by dysfunction in modern relationships, Workman said.
“I see people at the restaurant who are eating together, but are looking down at their phones and not at their partner, date or friend,” she said. “There also seems to be no respect or value for another person’s emotions, because they don’t take the time to learn about the other person and enjoy what they learn. There are so many people who cut themselves off or who are cut off. And the only way they can feel something is through sex. And that is sad.”
This idea has been percolating in Workman’s mind for a while, but she held back for the right time to write the lyrics.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from my mood swings, which I call my different personalities,” she said. “I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I don’t talk to many people about them, even though I have a close-knit family. So the way for me to vent is for one of my personalities to come out and write about it. It’s pretty much me expressing myself.”
Workman then took two weeks to edit the song, and showed it to her husband and producer Swan of SwanWorkman Media.
“He helped me tighten up the song, because I had written long verses,” she said. “He told me to slow it down and cut the words in half, and it worked better.”
The singer also knew she wanted the song to sound as organic as it could. So it tapped guitarist and bassist Dan Nobles and drummer David Giselmayr, while Workman played piano and sang.
“My husband also played the keyboards,” Workman said.
The only virtual instrument on the track is the violin, which was played on synthesizer.
“I had a lot of ideas, including wanting the violin to be the lead instrument, but if you listen to the song, you will hear that the guitar is the lead,” Workman said.
The decision to bring the guitar front and center was Nobles’ idea.
“Dan told me that the violin is the lead in really slow songs these days, and that the guitar would sound better,” Workman said. “This is where teamwork came in. I listened to the song, sat back and threw away my pride and ego. And I’m glad I did, because the song sounds amazing.”
Workman recorded five takes of the song, and had to sing each take all the way through, she said.
“Swan has this thing where he feels that every artist should know how to carry a song from beginning to end exactly like they are performing it on stage when they are in the studio,” she said.
That philosophy makes mixing the song easier, because the artist doesn’t have to record a few bars, stop, and then resume recording, according to Workman.
“During the recording sessions, Swan sat in with the musicians and built the music around my vocals,” she said. “He was the one who decided where the instruments would go.”
Recording a song has always been a dream for Workman, because she fell in love with music while growing up in Jamaica.
“I was raised by my aunts, listened to them play the scratchy, airy, vinyl sounds of country singer, Crystal Gayle,” she said. “It’s funny, because I didn’t grow up listening to jazz and blues. I didn’t even know Crystal Gayle was country.”
When Workman joined her mother in New York 20 years ago, another country singer entered her world.
“I heard Shania Twain’s album ‘Come on Over,’ and once again, it was a country singer that caught my ear,” she said with a laugh. “Since then I branched out to discover Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and Patty LaBelle — all the old-timers with strong voices.”
Workman balanced her audio palate with the smooth soul of Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, and the hard rock of Marilyn Manson and Aerosmith.
“Although I knew I eventually wanted to sing dancehall and reggae, because that’s my culture, I would always play alternative and pop-country everytime I pick up my guitar,” she said with a laugh. “But really, I love everything, because I feel the arts point blank. It speaks to me. When I listen to music, even if I’m not familiar with a certain genre, I can still feel it. All of a sudden I feel a rush of emotion.”
Workman’s artistic goal is to share that kind of emotion to the world through her songs.
“I want to let people know that they are not alone,” she said.
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