Music Industry News Network [02-24-2017]
Pan-cultural Group AO Music Signs With Abbeywood Records
Pan-cultural group AO Music has inked a deal with Toronto-based Abbeywood Records to release their fifth album and represent their back catalogue. The agreement signed between fronting band member Richard Gannaway’s Asheville, NC based label Arcturian Gate, and Abbeywood Records begins with the release of AO Music’s much anticipated new song collection, Asha this coming April. But it also marks what is expected to be a long-term partnership that will extend beyond the release of the group’s new and older material.
AO Music, (also known as AO) is a pan-cultural World Music group, known for an exotic blend of ethnic texture, rhythmic energy and ambient harmony. Their compositions employ melodic refrains, sung by South African born Miriam Stockley (acclaimed voice of Karl Jenkins' Adiemus project, and prolific solo artist). AO Music was founded in 2000 by veteran composer and producer Richard Gannaway, and Jay Oliver, longtime collaborator and band member of jazz musicians Maynard Ferguson and Dave Weckl. Miriam Stockley joined the group in 2006 following a five-year courtship that began with a collaboration on theme music for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
The deal between AO Music and Abbeywood, home of multi-platinum recording artist Hennie Bekker, is of symbolic importance as it marks a reunion between Bekker and Stockley, whose relationship began in the 70s in Johannesburg, South Africa. While still a teen, Stockley was a session vocalist on Bekker’s early recording projects. Abbeywood label head Steven Saffer and Stockley began discussing a potential collaboration in 2013, at the ceremony for an airplay chart award for which AO Music and Hennie Bekker had both received nominations. Discussions ensued, and Gannaway and Saffer have since cultivated a solid partnership in preparation for the release of AO Music’s fifth album, Asha, co-produced by Gannaway and Stockley.
Gannaway, who in the past was tasked with releasing the albums on his own label Arcturian Gate, says: "I’ve always felt anxiety at the completion of our albums, when I had to put on my indie hat. I often pondered how much more music I might have created without that burden. However, it did prepare me for dialogue with an experienced industry executive like Steven, whom I've grown to trust and respect. Steven and his team are well seasoned in our genre and other genres we cross over into, and what they’ve accomplished with Hennie Bekker’s catalogue speaks volumes about their artistic integrity.”
Saffer commented on the importance of this deal, saying: “We’re excited to bring on an artist of AO’s calibre and get behind their material, but this deal also has strategic value for us. Richard is a brilliant writer and producer, and Miriam is one of the greatest female vocalists of our time, but they are both much more than that. They’re family, and access to their skills in enabling and producing transcontinental collaborations with composers and musicians will be an asset as we seek to expand our catalogue, and work more closely with Canadian and international artists on new productions.”
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