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David Whitworth - Earth Wind and Fire
David Whitworth
David Whitworth

David Whitworth - Earth Wind and Fire

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David Whitworth

David Whitworth has been vocalist with the legendary funksters Earth, Wind and Fire for over two decades. He has old Radioshack speakers at home and loves the fact that Aston mics don’t fall over…

Earth Wind and Fire
David has been using:
Origin
Spirit
Halo
'I want to do whatever that is'

"Music kind of beckoned me. Music was always all around the house and my older sisters played records. I remember when I was 6, I sang a pop tune. It didn’t faze me at all, but they listened from upstairs and said “did David just sing that whole song”?  I remember seeing The Temptations and I said ‘I want to do that, whatever that is’. 

In school I was in plays and played trumpet in the bands. I was always doing something. There was a piano in the house, I just plucked out TV theme songs or whatever I could hear chords to and it was just always around so I latched onto it.

David’s first professional gig was on his fourteenth birthday, playing trumpet with friends in a pop band at a wedding reception, covering tracks including the BeeGees ‘You Should be Dancing’, and – a sign of things to come - Earth Wind and Fire’s ‘Can’t Hide Love’."

 

That doggone high A

He continued gigging, playing in marching bands and singing in choruses through High School before landing work touring with Broadway artist Stephanie Mills. While working with Stephanie in LA, he met saxophonist Scott Mayo, who would later perform with Earth Wind and Fire.

“One day we’re talking and I’m doing laundry in my parents’ house and he says ‘do you want me to put your name in just in case something happens’ and I said ‘sure’. A few months later Scott paged me (I didn’t even have a cellphone then), I pulled over to a payphone and called him and he said ‘They want you to come and do the gig, AND they want you to come tomorrow!’. That was in 1995, so a few years later I’m still here, I guess I’m still doing ok, thank God.

I still get nervous you know, even with the band, because I know I have to hit that doggone high A, a few times a night! That’s what's written so I have to sing it.  I just say ‘ok God help me with the A tonight; I’m a little tired’.

I like playing venues I watched on TV as a kid. Madison Square Gardens is a big one with me (I’m a big sports fan). And playing in the Kremlin, that was awesome. To go out after sound check to Red Square and be stopped from going back in by a Kremlin guard... To this day, the guys still tease me and once in a while they’ll just randomly say ‘Stop!’”; in their best Russian guard voice.

A good pallette

It was after a UK show that David found himself chatting online to one of Aston’s directors (and an Earth Wind and Fire fan)

“He said he enjoyed the show we just played, I think it was 2016 in England, and it’s like a blessing to me that people still care, that people show up, so I sent him a thank you. I saw he was with Aston and I said ‘By the way what’s Aston Mics?’ (Aston had only been going for a year). He sent me a mic to try out and that was it!

That was the Aston Origin. I now have a Spirit too. It’s really funny that over the years I’ve called myself an entertainer who happens to sing a little bit. I don’t fancy myself as a singer proper so I always look for the mic that helps me the most and the Spirit, it helps. Some people have certain preferences, the maple neck or certain strings on a guitar or a certain mouthpiece, etc., and that mic always did something for me. The Spirit felt like a good pallette to start with before we start turning knobs. 

When using as hand-held mic, I love the cylindrical design, because when you finish singing you're thinking ‘ok where do you put the mic? Is it clean, is it safe, is it going to fall off?'  And so when I saw this… even with the cable connected, it’s weighted so it doesn’t fall over. I completely love that."

Working in isolation

“For recording I’m using Logic 9 because that’s where I learned. Other people have moved onto 10, but they’re having some reservations about some of the things they’ve changed. It’s running through an Apogee interface I got just because it’s got an on board mini condenser mic - so I can actually pack this little guy in the side pocket of my backpack - but it still provides the phantom power for any other mic.  I do like my Sony headphones, my MDR75’s.  At home I use an 88 key M-Audio controller and M-Audio BX5 speakers and then, just for general purpose, I have these 20 year old smaller Radioshack speakers - sometimes you want just a regular speaker, not one made for studios.”

David also uses the Aston Halo reflection filter for recording his vocals.

“There are times when you want that isolated sound so to have it portable is extremely convenient.  I’m still learning all the little nuances, I just know that if the big fish are doing that isolating the vocals thing, then I should do it too!”

The pop funkster

While Earth Wind and Fire puts together the touring schedule for the forthcoming year, David finds time to pursue other projects. Recently he has been working on music for an independent film and performing in a trio, doing stripped-down arrangements of songs by Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and others.

“I grew up a pop funkster and so I hear the groove in everything, even in classical stuff. I hear where the pulse is even if it’s slow, I like finding the groove in something.  I do a lot of what I call good news music, gospel music that sort of has a funkier background.

I do a lot of songs about relationships, and then there’s the political part of me, even though I was never really ‘Mr. throw-my-hat-in-the-ring’, but I do have things to say about society.  I mean It doesn’t make sense that they have all this money in the world and people don’t have places to live or are hungry, that doesn’t make sense in my brain. And then sometimes I’ll do things for somebody’s birthday, at my church or something.”

Out-takes

Q. Who are your favourite artists?

A. 
Rufus (I’ll always hear Chaka sing to anything), and definitely Stevie Wonder. Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, The Police, Aretha and Shirley Ceasar and then there’s the big band stuff… Gosh this is very difficult because I like so many genres of music!

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?

A. One of my favourite jobs I ever had was working for a print company that did high volume copying.  Before I got my first road gig I was actually working for them in Boston and I always said if they ever came to New York I would still work for them when I’m off.  I like organisation, I like pushing paper, I like making sure things are straight and right.

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?

A. 
Thorough, Stylish, Happening, Sincere.

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?

A. 
I don’t really know of a song that made me cry.  If anything. Mr Holland’s Opus was a movie with Richard Dreyfuss that came out in the 90’s and I got a lump in my throat with that because it dealt with kids in a school system dealing with music and that was near and dear to my heart because that’s how I came up. 

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