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Ira Blonder
Franklin, TN, United States
Ira Blonder is the Managing Partner of Sound Kitchen Studios (www.soundkitchen.com)and The Blonder Group, LLC (www.blondergroup.com)
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Friday, June 12, 2009


When music aficionados debate rock n' roll greats, you may hear names like Elvis Presley and The Beatles tossed around. If the name Cliff Richard came up in that conversation, your immediate response might be "Who?"Most people from this area would probably not put Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley in the same category nor mention them in the same conversation for that matter. In fact, most people from this area would be hard pressed to tell you who Cliff Richard is or what songs he has sung over the years.Cliff Richard is a name people might not recognize until you play one of his hit songs, such as "Devil Woman" or "We Don't Talk Any More." That's when people have that look on their face like "Yeah, I remember that song."Cliff Richard holds the record with Elvis Presley as the only act to make the UK single's charts in all of its decades (1950s-2000). He is the only singer to have had a number one single in the UK in five consecutive decades. On the British charts, Richard has had more than 130 singles, albums and EP's make the top 20, more than any other artist. He has sold more than 260 million records and has spent the second highest time on the British charts of any act, second only to Elvis and ahead of The Beatles and Elton John.One must wonder with all the success in the UK and all over the world why he isn't recognizable in the United States. Richard used to worry about his lack of popularity in the States. Now he enjoys the anonymity that he doesn't receive anywhere else in the world.Richard was in Franklin recently to record a new record at the Sound Kitchen Studio. "I will be spending five or six days in the studio, recording a whole album in a week." said Richard. "I have recorded 14 songs in two and half days; it's a marathon."The new record, which will be a "jazz bluesy swinging" sound, will feature Cliff Richard singing hits from artist such as Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Etta James. According to Richard, this record is different than anything he has ever done. "This has been a bit of a stretch for me, I have never sung these types of songs before," said Richard. "It's (jazz) an alien world. It took me two days to get used to the chord progressions. I love challenges and this has been out of my comfort zone, but working with producer Michael Omartian, the musicians, and the studio has been phenomenal." Michael Omartian is an accomplished producer of such acts as Michael Bolton, Whitney Houston, Rod Stewart, Clint Black, Amy Grant, and Steely Dan to name a few. He is probably best known as the co-producer of the No. 1 hit "We Are the World" in 1985.Cliff Richard has recorded in Nashville before, once in 1962, and at the Sound Kitchen four years ago. You can tell that Richard loves the time he spends in this area, as he raved about the geography, the studio, and the musicians he worked with. "I love the rolling hills of this area, and everything is so green. It's beautiful here. We have used 14 musicians on this album, all local musicians. They are like a community. There is a real sense of community with all of them and they are so talented. The studio is fantastic, small, and comfortable. I have really enjoyed making this record here."Ira Blonder, managing partner of Sound Kitchen Studios, lists Cliff Richards as one of his favorite clients. Blonder and Richard have worked together before when Richard was in the studio four years ago."Cliff Richard is an amazing talent and a gentleman to work with," said Blonder. "When artists come to record here, we typically get them back because of the experience, and Cliff is an example of the relationships we build here at the Sound Kitchen Studios. Cliff has already scheduled a return to record a follow up album next year," said Blonder.Richard was already talking about the next album. "I would love to name it Bold as Brass," said Richard. "I would love to do this as my follow up, maybe add string instruments in the studio."The comparisons to Elvis may be a distant memory to Cliff Richard, but Richard still welcomes the discussion and credits Elvis with influencing not only himself but all of rock n' roll."The British press called me the answer to Elvis," said Richard. "We were battling it out on the UK charts for years. Rock and Roll would have been much different without Elvis. He gave us our shapes; he influenced us. I look back on my career and when someone mentions me in the same breath as Elvis, I appreciate it."Blonder noted that he was always intrigued with Richard's relationship with Elvis. "Imagine being as big as Elvis everywhere in the world and not being able to walk out in public without being mobbed. Here in the U.S., Cliff doesn't get the attention he deserves," said Blonder.While visits to local restaurants like Sperry's and J. Alexander's went without any fanfare, a trip to the Ryman to see the Patsy Cline musical "Always" was a different story."There was a big group traveling from Europe on vacation and they noticed me at the show," said Richards. "The group was ecstatic that they came to Nashville to see country stars and they ran into Cliff Richard."At age 68, looking fit, trim, and youthful, Cliff Richards is not slowing down and ponders all the possibilities out there for him. "I love country music; maybe I could record with Allison Krauss sometime."