Video: Oklahoma native Jimmy Webb and Thelma Houston release new version of 'Someone Is Standing Outside'
Start your Monday with some encouraging music from two award-winning music legends - Grammy-winning songwriter, singer, pianist, arranger and producer and Elk City native Jimmy Webb and Grammy-winning R&B star Thelma Houston.
The pair recently reunited to perform a new version of their song "Someone Is Standing Outside" to abate the feelings of divisiveness and isolation with a message of being kind to one another and spreading positivity and love, according to a news release. The song is available for download and streaming on all digital service providers.
"Thelma emailed me when the pandemic started and suggested we re-release 'Someone is Standing Outside.' Shortly after we started talking about it, George Floyd was killed and the protests started. We all felt alone in our quarantine, battered by misunderstandings and fear and injustice. I thought again about the song, and updated the lyrics to reflect where we are," Webb said in a statement.
"The song is a reminder that we are all part of humanKIND - kind is what we were meant to be. This song reminds us to look beyond ourselves. Life will be better if we care for one another. There is nothing political in that. It is just the truth. Take care of one another. Love to all. Thelma, the choir, the arranger, the producers, the mixer, the publicist - all gave their time because they too believe in this message."
Written by Webb, the song was originally recorded for Houston's debut album "Sunshower" (1969), on which all but one of the 12 tracks was composed and arranged by Webb. He also produced the album, which reached No. 50 on the Billboard R&B chart. Houston went on to be the first solo female artist at Motown Records to receive the Grammy Award for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance for her hit single "Don't Leave Me This Way."
For the new recording of "Someone Is Standing Outside," Webb wrote new lyrics, including: "Come Presidents and statesmen, and TV debatesmen / Don't throw that book away, it's written for you."
"I think the song is so relevant today. Jimmy writes classics, standards songs that span the ages and I love singing them, " said Houston in a statement.
Webb recorded his piano performance in Long Island, while Houston contributed her vocals in Los Angeles. Webb's long-time producer and award-winning musician Fred Mollin, put everything together and produced the final mix in Nashville, Tennessee.
After hearing the Enter A Cappella choir from Sir William Mulock Secondary School in Newmarket Ontario Canada perform of his arrangement of his song "That's All I've Got To Say" in April, Webb invited them to perform on the new version of "Someone Is Standing Outside."
The choral arrangement was composed by the choir's own Kristen Antunes. Each student's vocal was recorded separately from their Toronto-suburb bedroom and remotely directed by Chris Uchida, head of music at Sir William Mulock S.S.
"As a public high school teacher, I am always looking for ways to engage my students and provide them with rich, meaningful and memorable experiences. You couldn't ask for a more amazing and special experience than to work with Jimmy and Thelma on a project like this," Uchida said in a statement.
"Because of the pandemic, schools were closed and events canceled. And these students never got a chance to perform - until Mr. Webb contacted us. Now, when these students look back to high school, I know moments like this will be what they remember the most. We are incredibly grateful that we were entrusted with this meaningful recording."
Webb, who last month celebrated his 74th birthday, has created a magnificent catalog of his own songs to draw from whenever he performs. Ranked in the top 50 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time ("recognized today for his unique explorations of themes of loneliness and individuality in the American landscape"), his catalog boasts contemporary classics that are indelible compositions such as "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "MacArthur Park," "Up, Up and Away," "Still Within the Sound of My Voice," "Galveston," "Highwayman," "The Worst That Could Happen," "Didn't We" and more. Glen Campbell's hit recording of his song "Wichita Lineman," was just inducted into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry.
The Oklahoma native's latest releases include his memoir, "The Cake and the Rain," and "SlipCover," an 11-track album of Webb's piano instrumentals of songs by Randy Newman, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, and others. For more information, go to www.jimmywebb.com.