“That extra thing”- the role of session musicians in the recording industry


They were only sessions!

My arrival into the music business was through studio work. In 1982, I participated for the first time in a TV show, with a live band. One of its members made some compliments to my voice and asked me if I was willing to sing commercial jingles. Not knowing exactly what he meant, I answered “yes”.

At that time, those musicians were doing a lot of studio work with advertising. But they also worked for the record industry as producers, so from that moment onwards I found myself working as a studio session singer – both for the record industry and for the advertising business. My professional trajectory was, then, peculiar, as the recording studio was not the usual place to start a musical career (especially in the eighties).

From the start, I got used to working with some of the best Portuguese musicians. In my mental framework, a session musician was a top musician. It was with surprise that last June, during an interview for my thesis, I heard an ex-manager of a record label refer to a group of musicians as “only sessions”. He was commenting a Portuguese band`s split many years ago on account of problems with the vocalist (a female singer); in his view, they were “jealous of her”, who was the true artist. The rest of them were “only sessions”.

Several reasons motivated me to write this article: on a general level, this subject is now becoming more popular – especially after the release of several documentary films. 20 Feet from Stardom, focusing on the work of back-up singers, is probably the most well known, once it won an Oscar in 2014 for Best Documentary Feature. But other films, such as Muscle Shoals The Incredible True Story of a Small Town with a Big Sound, and The Wrecking Crew The Untold Story of Rock & Roll Heroes (still unreleased, but shown in private sessions)[i] have drawn the public`s attention (although probably a small niche) to these often overlooked actors in the music scene.

On an academic level, it is yet an understudied subject, maybe because, as the sub-title of Kent Hartman`s book implies (2012), it was, during many years, a record industry`s well kept secret[ii]. The works of Susan Fast (2003 and 2010) and Jacqueline Warwick (2007) about girl singing, as well as Robert Faulkner`s book on Hollywood studio musicians (1971) and Alan Williams`s articles (2009 and 2010) may provide a useful source of research[iii].  Non-academic books such as the above mentioned by Kent Hartman are enlightening, together with works based on famous record producers[iv]. There is, in fact, a large amount of information available on non-academic sources – books, articles on magazines, interviews with musicians, and the documentary films above mentioned.

Lastly, the remark made by the record label ex-manager drew my attention to the fact that what I considered an irrefutable truth – considering session musicians as top musicians – was not consensual to other actors in the music business.


Popular music […] supports a celebrity system centred on highly visible and easily identifiable individuals. Yet much popular music is in fact made by unknown, unidentified musicians, hired collaborators who work out of the public eye in the recording studio or in the shadows of the concert stage (Williams: 2010, p. 59).

Alan Williams’ article mentions a number of aspects related to the work of session musicians working in the USA: conceptions of identity, collaboration and creativity, among others. I will address several features involved in this activity that I find relevant (some of them intersecting with Alan William`s analysis), which, in my view, are common to session musicians working in other countries such as Portugal. For the purpose of this article, I will compare two different musical realities – the one lived today, after the rise of the internet, the accessibility it brought to music at various levels and the end of the label-recording studio model; and the years prior to these events. I will speak of studio practices and cultures and the way the specific procedures of session musicians adapt to the resources available in the recording studios. The social configuration of studio sessional performers in respect to gender issues will be mentioned, as well as conceptualizations about musicianship, “feel” and artistry. Composition and authorship will be part of this article, as they are two aspects of studio music practices seldom recognized in this activity. Related to all the features described, several questions will be raised: on what circumstances does a producer choose a session musician over a band member, eventually sacrificing the band’s “feel” and how does this decision impact on the live performance? Can we consider some session musicians/singers` participations in a song as part of the composition? Are back-up vocalists considered (session) musicians? How is the listening experience in the studio relevant for the performance?

Musicianship and feel

Definitions of what a session musician is and does can be found in literature related to popular music studies. Michael Hannan defines them as “studio musicians”, “session players or (session singers)” (2003:61). Dividing them into two categories, the first being the creative player who is expected to work with other musicians in a rhythm section to create the foundation groove of a track from a basic chord chart (ibid.) and the second the “excellent sight-reader”. Usually coming from a classical music background (ibid.), these musicians have to have the highest possible levels of instrumental (or vocal) skill […]. There is absolutely no room for any kind of imperfection in professional recording. (ibid.)

In the creative category, they need to have “all the skills of the backing musicians and more”(ibid.).  Another definition, by Shelly Field, which more or less coincides with the previous one, differs in questions related to creativity. It also briefly mentions the absence of credits for the studio performance in the record sleeve:  […] one thing that bothers many studio musicians is that this job stifles their creativity. Another problem […] is that the individual playing on the recording does not always get credit for his or her work. This means that the studio musician works in the shadow of another musician (Field, 2010).

I will come back to this last question of the credits at the end of the next section.  Along popular music`s history, music producers have used session musicians to play in different bands, sometimes even replacing the actual members of the bands themselves[v]. A well-known case in popular music history is that of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. From the moment his music production skills became more ambitious and sophisticated (influenced, among other musicians, by Phil Spector`s production techniques, such as the wall of sound),Wilson realized he had to use session musicians in the recording studio, instead of his band mates. The corollary of that attitude was the making of Pet Sounds, where the band members – apart from Wilson, who assumed the role of producer – only came in the studio to record the vocal parts. The result was musically extraordinary, but his decision caused tension in the band[vi].

I witnessed situations like these happen, often creating an unpleasant atmosphere between members of the same band, who eventually felt musically unappreciated. These decisions may imply a sub-textual message (or, at least, it may be understood as such by the receivers), according to which there are two types of musicians: the ones who can perform in the studio (the ones who can actually play) and the others who are only good enough for the live act. Because, as a Portuguese saying goes, in live gigs, “with the noise that the lights make, anything is possible”.

Being aware of this kind of group dynamics is what can trigger different decisions by a producer: although conscious that the players of a band may not be the best instrumentalists, he or she may not want to jeopardize the group`s feel, an emic concept hard to define.[vii]  In Making Records (Granata 2007) Phil Ramone describes the beginning of his music collaboration with Billy Joel. After watching him perform live twice and listening to his first four albums, Ramone realized that the power he had seen on stage was lacking from Billy`s records (ibid. p. 72).

I knew exactly what was missing from Billy`s first four records: his band. Billy`s musicians were a tight group, musically and personally. Until he remade Turnstiles he`d been forced to use studio musicians who lacked the intensity of what I`d seen the Billy Joel band do onstage (ibid. p. 73).

It was the band`s “unconstrained energy” (ibid. p. 73) – or, I suggest, the band`s feel– that the producer wanted to keep in a live studio setting, rather than a performative perfectionism Ramone knew they did not have.

Artistry, Composition and Authorship

Back then not that many people in the early sixties knew how to play rock r`n roll the right away and the Wrecking Crew did:[…] they could go in and give it an extra fell, an extra groove, that makes a difference between a song and a song[viii].

Being a session musician became, during the height of the recording industry, in itself, a career. Why? According to Hartmann (2012), they were payed so well in the studios that they didn’t want to lose their place in line by actually going out on the road; secondly, they replaced actually so many famous bands in the studio and they saw those bands being popular one year, and then gone the next. Thirdly, most of them truly had the personality where they were happy backgrounding people[ix].

In Portugal, the most desired session players were also the most wanted to go on the road with the artists – that is, whenever the work in the studio allowed them to. The situation was rather similar to the USA, adapted to a minor scale.

Apart from high expectations regarding their instrumental or vocal performances, session musicians were also expected to add something of their own to the recordings: new musical ideas emerging from their own creativity, facilitating the producer`s work and leading the recording eventually into new directions, spurring “unexpected moments of greatness” (Ramone in Granata 2007:  p.38). Phil Ramone describes how the amazing drum groove of the song “Fifty ways to leave your lover” by Paul Simon came about in the studio – what he defines as “a happy accident”:

Steve Gadd was warming up.[…] he began playing a drum corps-style street beat […]Paul heard the nagging rhythm through the open door, and […] went out into the studio.[…] As Gadd tapped away on the snare, Paul grabbed his guitar and began singing over the melody. It was a stunning combination, and Paul was delighted (Ramone in Granata 2007: p. 39).

Steely Dan, the famous North-american band, is well-known, among other features, for its search for a sonic perfectionism that became its trademark. Having had the collaboration of many extraordinary sound professionals to reach this goal, the input of the top session musicians who played in its recordings was also of the utmost importance. For instance, choosing the right solo guitar for the theme “Peg” involved listening to many solos by several guitar players – up to eight, according to Fagen and Becker – before Jay Graydon did it “with no difficulty whatsoever”[x].

Here is Jay Graydon commenting on this studio session:

Within the first hour, I mostly played my standard pop/pop jazz solo vocabulary of the era, hunting for melodic connections.[…].We took a break and when getting back to work, Donald mentioned the key factor regarding the approach. He said something like, “Think ‘blues’ from time to time.” That was the key to the concept (Giles 2010).

However, after a few passes, I fell into playing/bending “double stops” (two notes at a time) in the beginning of the solo (…). The guys dug the double stop lick, hence the first four bars were on tape (ibid.).

Was it the “double stop lick”, along the “Hawaian, Polynesian”[xi] trait of the solo (apparently not included in the indications given by the producers) that made the difference, adding that “extra enhancement”[xii] the other guitar players hadn’t yet? Maybe. Asked about why this particular solo was his most famous, Graydon answered “the solo did not sound typical of commercial music of the era”(Giles 2010), which certainly is true. In the words of Alan Williams, commenting on the “right” solo choice, “`right` in this case was not simply correct, but special, idiosyncratic, individual” (2010).

Session musicians are usually comfortable with their musical ideas becoming part of the composition. Adding the “extra” factor, as we have seen so far, “comes with the job”. There are limits, however: understanding where to draw the line between what is the session musician`s work or where it becomes part of the composition is sometimes delicate. Here are two examples, on a very different scale.

Many years ago, I worked with a TV producer who also composed jingles. In the sessions, he had the frequent habit of playing a two or three chord sequence in the guitar; then, with the text given by the advertising agency, he would ask me to sing a melody on top of the chords. In other words, compose the melody. By doing that, was I performing as a session singer or as a singing composer? Every time it happened, I alerted him for the fact.

A well-known and polemic case is the one of session singer Clare Torry, who sang the solo of “The Great Gig In the Sky”, a song included in Pink Floyd`s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon.

Clare`s contribution, after a series of trial-and-error takes in the recording session, where she got indications to sing longer notes and be increasingly more emotional (Harris 2005), became an integral part of the song. Feeling very insecure during the process, the turning point of her performance was when she thought of her voice as being an instrument; also, the fact that “there was a lovely can balance “made by Alan Parsons (“echoey, but not too echoey”) made the experience all the more extraordinary (ibid.). I will come back to the importance of listening in the recording studio further in the article.

Roger Waters, sometime later, described this as “a happy accident” (ibid.) – another to make history in popular music.

However, thirty years later, in 2004, this “happy accident” almost became an unhappy incident (depending on one`s perspective) as Tory decided to claim a co-writing credit on the song, which she won in an off-court settlement with the band in 2005[xiii].

Back-up vocalists: a special case of session musicians?

I love my back-up singers; we all participate in what the sound is, it`s a group effort[xiv]

I’ll consider three features that I find relevant regarding back-up vocalists (who usually are session singers): gender, status amongst other musicians and career.

3.1 Gender

Do you know any hot broads who can sing something?[xv]

In the eighties, the professionalization of back-up singers in Portuguese popular music was becoming a fact. There were not many people doing it; most of them were female, and sometimes not even singers. Most of the singers who did it were doing it temporarily, as a step towards their solo careers. But a growing recording industry, as well as the common use of musical jingles in advertising urged the need to have a specialized group of singing professionals skilled to perform in the studio.

What is it about this profession that eventually attracts more female than men?

In 20 Feet from Stardom, the number of male backing-vocalists that appear or are mentioned is much smaller than the women. Apart from David Lasley, Oren Waters and a reference to Luther Vandross as a former backing-vocalist, the documentary is focused on the lives and careers of a number of female backing vocalists.

However, the music industry is, even today, in the 21st century, one of the most white male oriented, as was referred in the last ARP conference held in Oslo in December 2014[xvi].  In the same conference, but in its 6th edition, in S. Francisco, three years before, a panel featuring several women producers and sound engineers was held, where questions related to the implementation of women performing these tasks – a clear minority, compared to the men who do it – were discussed.[xvii] Richard Burgess who, together with Katia Isakoff, presented this panel in San Francisco, dedicates a chapter of his book to this subject (Burgess, 2013). Among other reasons, “socially debilitating” hours and consequently, the absence of a normal life pattern are mentioned as probable causes for the lack of women in music production (ibid.).

But you don`t need to be a music producer to feel the difficulty of keeping this idealized “normality”. Bringing my personal example to the debate, it was very hard to cope with my profession and at the same time raising three children – especially the long night studio sessions, the live gigs ending up in the morning and going on the road with the artists I did backing vocals with. This would not have been possible without the precious help of a number of family members and friends. At the same time, during my thirty-three years in the music business, I met very few women who were anything but singers in Portugal.

The probable and most obvious conclusion to draw would be stating that working in the music business is hardly compatible with certain aspects of life considered “normal” and expected to be followed by women – like parenthood. In this framework, and despite the fact that the situation is slowly changing (at least in Portugal), singing – whether solo, as singer-songwriter or as session singer – is, by far, the most common activity for a woman in the music industry, together with administrative and support positions, as mentioned in Richard Burgess`s chapter.

3.2 Status amongst other musicians

Whats the similarity between a singer and a war tank? They both destroy bridges.

Is a singer a musician? More specifically, is a session singer a session musician? I asked the question to a top Portuguese back-up vocalist:

Of course she is! A back-up vocalist does the necessary work, whether in the recording studio or live, and is paid by the hour or by a previously accorded cachet for the whole work. I don`t even know why there is that doubt[xviii]!

Along these almost four decades, I have heard many jokes musicians tell about singers (like the one in the beginning of this section, probably one of the lightest I have heard) – regardless of being back-up or solo -, usually implying that they are female, slutty, dumb and musically ignorant[xix].

I never felt I was treated differently than any other session musician. However, during some recording sessions, I witnessed a somewhat arrogant attitude from instrument players – and producers – towards women singers, mostly due to a believed lack of musical education on the part of the singers – for not being able to read a score, or understanding “the musicians`s language”- which should be the singers`s as well. It is a fact that, as stated in section 3.1, in the 80`s, the Portuguese back-up vocalists had very little music education. There was, indeed, a general lack of basic music knowledge, at times compensated by the natural ability that each person had for the job – which does not legitimize the chauvinist comments, which associate lack of knowledge to gender. Currently, popular music musicians have much more chances of having a musical education, even outside a regular school – the internet has played a very important role on this subject as well – which might justify the Portuguese back-up vocalist`s reaction to my question, as she belongs to a younger generation[xx].

3.3 Career

When I was younger I had my own dreams about being a solo artist, but as I got older and really wanted to make a living, I really started to love the part of being backup singer where you get a lot of the glory but you don’t have all the pressure on your shoulders[xxi].

“If you sing as well or even better than the artist, how come you`re always at the back?” For me, being a background vocalist is like playing an instrument, only different than the one I play when I perform as lead singer…and I love it[xxii]!

Most of the session players I worked with did not engage in a solo career. João Maló, a Portuguese guitar player, and one of the most active session musicians in the 70`s and 80`s, commented that “when you put too much on one side, you take from another”, meaning that when you invest a lot of time playing all sorts of music in different contexts, you eventually lose your creative identity[xxiii].

With back-up singers, there seems to be a certain pressure – both internal and external – to walk those “twenty feet” that separate them “from stardom”. The homonymous documentary shows examples of back-up/session singers who embody two different cases: some who fought all their lives to walk that path, trying to earn credibility as solo artists, like Darlene Love and Judith Hill. Others, like Lisa Fisher, have a different attitude towards their work: apart from having been back-up singer for artists and bands like Luther Vandross, Tina Turner and still touring with the Rolling Stones, she also recorded as solo artist, winning a Grammy award in 1992. However, she decided to drop her solo career and continue being a backing singer. Refusing ideas of frustration and aspiration for something more, she just enjoys doing music and supporting other artists.[xxiv]

As a session singer myself, I have been through different phases: in 1982, when I started working, everything was new and there were many different working possibilities available, – mostly recording sessions for labels and for the advertising business (I only started club dating much later on, in the 90`s, precisely when studio work became scarce).

A few years later, I became weary of the work I was doing and I felt “the calling” – what my colleague Joao Maló denominates the urge to assume a “frontman” position.

I considered a solo career. However, I was faced with an unexpected problem: who was I, artistically speaking? What kind of music did I want to record? What kind of public was I targeting? I had no idea. I ended up with a record I had no personal identification with[xxv].  Maybe because, as Alan Williams states:

Reconciling the contradictions associated with establishing a creative identity in a field where contributions are considered “works for hire,” and thus regarded as significantly less important than that of the artists they work with, is a particularly difficult endeavour, and one that many musicians wrestle with perpetually (2010).

Today, I resonate with Kate Markowitz, back-up singer of James Taylor, and author of the first quotation in this section. Although I don`t perform much backing vocals these days, when I do, I feel more my “self”, as a collaborator in somebody else`s process[xxvi].

4. Listening experiences

One of the features that, along the years, made my life so special and increased my passion both for music and for recording music was the listening experience the studio provides. I am obviously reporting to a time when recording in a studio implied a certain amount of time to do things, in accordance with technological demands.

When I closed my eyes,- which I always did – it was just all-enveloping: a lovely vocal sound, which for a singer is always inspirational (Harris, 2005).

This quotation, by Clare Torry, comes in the sequence of the one previously transcribed in section 2, where she asserts the importance of the headphone balance that Alan Parsons did as fundamental for the final result of “The Great Gig in the Sky” solo.

Before digital recording technology, two of the most important elements in recording – punching in and out, as well as doubling tracks – were meticulous actions, both on the part of the musicians and the sound engineers. For that, a good headphone balance was absolutely essential.

You’re sort of mentally in another dimension through headphones… You’re throwing your ideas out and everyone is responding just in that moment… It’s just like the best thing in the world. It’s just an amazing place to be… Something can change in a split second. You’re processing someone else’s ideas… You’re almost inside this other person’s brain in a way (Williams, 2009).

Binaural listening is, of course, not an exclusive feature of studio recording. Today, the use of in-ears is widespread in professional live acts; the experience of music listening by the general public is also often binaural, through the earbuds belonging to the devices used. But I believe that you access that “amazing place to be” mostly – but not exclusively- in a studio environment. In reality, and as stated by a session musician “the experience of making music is one of intense pleasure. It is addictive […]” (Williams, 2010).

5. Final remarks – the future

That`s the way record labels wanted it[xxvii]!

The music industry has shrunk. In shrinking it has rung out the middle, leaving the bands and the audiences to work out their relationship from the ends. I see this as both healthy and exciting. If we’ve learned anything over the past 30 years it’s that left to its own devices bands and their audiences can get along fine (Albini, 2014).

Do you believe me if I tell you that I haven`t been to a studio in years? That in the last five or six records in which I participated, they sent me a rough mix, I recorded the saxophone here at home and then I emailed it back[xxviii]?

These three quotations show how the popular music framework has changed, and how those changes reflected in the studio practices and cultures of sessional performers in the last thirty years.

As stated by Kent Hartman in the first quotation, in the golden days of the recording industry, the work of studio-hired musicians was fundamental to keep the production line of record manufacture and sale as effective as possible. However, with the “shrinking” of the industry referred by Steve Albini (2014), that came together with the disappearance of the major label system and the rise of the internet as a privileged mediator of music accessibility, consumption and dissemination, the work of session musicians became expendable, for economic as well as professional reasons. The third quote comes from Nanã Sousa Dias, one of the most active Portuguese saxophone players, both in live gigs and in studio sessions. The new paradigm brought along this procedure of recording at home, eventually causing the emergence of a new professional category – what Nanã calls, with bitter irony, “studio hermits”[xxix].

The configuration of the advertising business, for years an important source of income for session musicians and singers, also suffered significant changes regarding music. Jingles became outdated and instrumental music ceased to be played by musicians, being often replaced by library music or music played by synthesizers.

Still, according to my observation, there are session players who have been active professionals in the Portuguese recording scene for decades; they are, however, in a much lesser number.

Session musicians, singers, backing-vocalists – when worthy of that qualification – are anything but “only”. With their expertise studio performances, they added many “extra things” to popular music, to the point of having reconfigured it in ways unimaginable. As a professional, I was privileged to witness – and be part of – some of those magic moments. As a member of a vast listening audience, I don`t know-and never will – what some bands (and singers) would sound like, without their contribution. And that is, most likely, a good thing.

It is my firm belief that session musicians should earn more credit for their anonymous work, on a general as well as an academic level. It would be important to clarify the type of contribution that these truly “hidden musicians”, using Ruth Finnegan`s expression (Finnegan 1989), gave to music cultures associated to popular music.

In the case of Portugal, most of the professionals I worked with have died. It is, then, urgent to construct this narrative as soon as possible, for lack of live sources will be the reality in a very brief future.


[i] Uncut interview with Denny Tedesco – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS07nX872s0 – [Accessed April 2014].

[ii] Hartman, Kent (2012) The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret, St. Martin`s Press.

[iii] Fast, Susan (2010) “Genre, Subjectivity and Back-up Singing in Rock Music”, in The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology;ibid. (2003) “The Handmaiden`s Tale:Black Women Back-up Singers in White Rock”, 12th Biennial IASPM International Conference Montreal, Proceedings.;Warwick, Jacqueline (2007) Girl Groups, Girl Culture: Popular Music and Identity in the 1960`s, Routledge; Faulkner, Robert R.(1971) Hollywood Studio Musicians: Their Work and Careers in the Recording Industry. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton; Williams, Ala (2009) “I`m Not Hearing What You`re Hearing”; The Conflict and Connection of Headphone Mixes and Multiple Audioscapes”, JARP, Issue 4 and (2010) “Navigating Proximities: The Creative Identity of the Hired Musician”, Journal of the Music &Entertainment Industry Educators Association, Vol.10, Number 1.

[iv] Granata, Charles (2007) Making Records – The Scenes Behind the Music- Phil RRamone, Hyperion, New York.

[v] Interview with Kent Hartman (Part 1) in Connie Martinson Talks Books – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpx7DhKV5k – [Accessed November 2014].

[vi] http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2000-07-21/77984/

[vii] This concept is referred in Andrew Gwilliam`s article (2009) “Production and the Listener: The “Perfect” Performance”, JARP, Issue 4, 2009. It is used as part of an evaluation grid to compare two recorded performances of a band. It is, however, not defined.

[viii] Interview with Kent Hartman (Part 1) in Connie Martinson Talks Books – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpx7DhKV5k – [Accessed November 2014].

[ix] Interview with Kent Hartman (Part 1) in Connie Martinson Talks Books – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpx7DhKV5k – [Accessed November 2014]

[x] ibid.

[xi] http://youtu.be/FQLkpXacFUA, – [Accessed November 2014]

[xii] Kent Hartman, interview

[xiii] http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/readers-poll-the-best-vocal-performances-in-rock-history-20120905/2-pink-floyd-the-great-gig-in-the-sky-0352701-[Accessed November 2014]

[xiv] http://youtu.be/7N5AAbSf0fs- .[Accessed November 2014].

[xv] This was a common way of asking for back-up singers when I started my career.

[xvi] 9th ARP Conference, University of Oslo, Norway, 4-6 December, 2014. This idea was mentioned in a panel on Recording Aesthetics held during the conference.

[xvii] 7th ARP Conference, S. Francisco State University, 4-6 December, 2011.

[xviii] Patrícia Antunes, Portuguese back-up vocalist, email interview, 17th November 2014. Presently, one of the most well-known backing vocalists. Together with another Patrícia – Patrícia Silveira – they form a live act called Patrícias SA and perform backing vocals for the most important Portuguese bands and artists. They are, by far, the most sough after backing vocals group. – https://www.facebook.com/patricias.sa.

[xix] I have occasionally found references to different unions for musicians and singers, implying that there is an institutional legitimization for this separation- at least in some countries. Weissman, Dick (2006) Making a Living in Your Local Music Market: Realizing Your Marketing Potential, Hal Leonard Corporation, New York, p.24 and Field, Shelly (2010) Career Opportunities in the Music Industry, Ferguson, New York, p. 232 are examples of books where two different unions for singers and musicians are mentioned, one in Canada and the other in the United States.

[xx] In his Master’s thesis “Playing Outside: Jazz and Society in Portugal from the perspective of two schools”, José Dias, a Portuguese ethnomusicologist, refers jazz education as “one of the most important educational models outside the conservatory model to form professional musicians […] in different areas of popular music (jazz, pop, rock, etc)” (Dias, 2010 pp. 73-74). In the course of his investigation, in 2010 he acknowledged the existence of twenty two schools in Portugal teaching jazz, exclusively or non-exclusively (ibid.: p. 79)

[xxi] Kate Markowitz, back-up singer of James Taylor in http://youtu.be/7N5AAbSf0fs-[Accessed November 2014].

[xxii] Patrícia Antunes, email interview.

[xxiii] João Maló, interview, 23th October 2014, conducted at Parede, Cascais.

[xxiv] 20 Feet from Stardom, documentary film directed by Morgan Neville, 2013.

[xxv] My musical references were almost entirely from Anglo-american popular music (they still are). The label was more interested in light music, as was the producer assigned to me. The right decision should have been, eventually, not doing the record. But at that time – 1994 – having a record label, the possibility to record in a real studio and the prospect of a different course in my career spoke louder than anything else.

[xxvi] Kate Markowitz speaks about her professional relationship with James Taylor as “having the privilege of being part of James`s process”, which I find a nice way of defining her role as back-up singer. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N5AAbSf0fs, [Accessed January 2014]. I also used the term “collaborator”, which I found in Alan Williams`s article, referring to the way a pianist sees her role, when accompanying a singer (rather than “accompanist”). (Williams: 2010, p. 62)

[xxvii] Interview with Kent Hartman (Part 1) in Connie Martinson Talks Books – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpx7DhKV5k – [Accessed November 2014].

[xxviii] Nanã Sousa Dias, saxophone player- email interview, the 2nd of March, 2015.

[xxix] ibid.


Burgess, Richard (2013) The Art of Music Production – The Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press.

Field, Shelly (2010) Career Opportunities in the Music Industry, Ferguson, New York, p. 232.

Finnegan, Ruth (1989) The Hidden Musicians – Music-Making in an English Town, Cambridge University Press.

Giles, Jeff (2010) “Anatomy of a Song: Jay Graydon Discusses Steely Dan’s “Peg” in Pop-Dose on-line magazine, May 2010 – http://popdose.com/anatomy-of-a-song-jay-graydon-discusses-steely-dans-peg/ [Accessed November 2014].

Gwilliam, Andrew (2009) “Production and the Listener: The “Perfect” Performance”, JARP, Issue 4.

Granata, Charles (2007) Making Records – The Scenes Behind the Music – Phil Ramone, Hyperion, New York.

Hannan, Michael (2003) Australian Guide to Careers in Music, Music Council of Australia, p. 61.

Harris, John (2005), interview to Clare Torry in Brain Damage – Pink Floyd News Resource – http://www.brain-damage.co.uk/other-related-interviews/clare-torry-october-2005-brain-damage-excl-2.html [Accessed November 2014].

Hartman, Kent (2012) The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret, St. Martin`s Press.

“Steve Albini on the surprisingly sturdy state of the music industry – in full”- interview in The Guardian, 17th November 2014 – http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/nov/17/steve-albinis-keynote-address-at-face-the-music-in-full- [Accessed May 2015]

Williams, Alan (2009) “I`m Not Hearing What You`re Hearing”; The Conflict and Connection of Headphone Mixes and Multiple Audioscapes”, JARP, Issue 4.

(2010) “Navigating Proximities: The Creative Identity of the Hired Musician”, Journal of the Music &Entertainment Industry Educators Association, Vol.10, Number 1.

(2013)Twenty Feet from Stardom,documentary film by Morgan Neville.

Interview with Kent Hartman (Part 1) in Connie Martinson Talks Books – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpx7DhKV5k– [Accessed April 2014].

Interview with Kent Hartman (Part 2) in Connie Martinson Talks Books – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sUcZu6g094 – [Accessed April 2014].

http://www.popmatters.com/review/178175-finally-in-the-spotlight-20-feet-from-stardom/- [Accessed November 2014].