StowTown Records is the collective vision of Ernie Haase and Wayne Haun. Together they are committed to release music that encourages, vitalize and inspire. Thus far, StowTown Records have released some of the most crucial Christian records to date. They are the musical home to artists such as Doug Anderson, the Perrys, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, the Collingsworth Family, Beyond the Ashes and many others. We have the honor here to be able to talk to Ernie Haase and Wayne about StowTown's vision, their releases and upcoming projects.
Hallels: Thank you Wayne and Ernie for your time in doing this interview with us, let talk about the recording label StowTown Records. Can you explain to us the meaning of the name "StowTown"? What is the inspiration behind the name?
First, thank you for allowing us this opportunity. StowTown was actually the vision and dream of the late George Younce. He wanted to have a record company and studio near his home in Ohio. He wanted a place of creative freedom and innovation for artists. We just gave his ideas some legs. Because all of the Cathedral Quartet lived in Stow, OH, we named our company after the town as a tribute to both George and the group.
Hallels: Since there are already quite a number of labels out there that service us with fine Southern Gospel music, what is unique about StowTown's contribution to Christian music?
StowTown is a full service label that not only includes great distribution (Provident/Sony), but in-house production. We also enjoy introducing new artists to the music scene at large. It's also unique because it's the only label in Southern Gospel that is managed by artists. Most labels are managed by executives that don't quite understand life on the road. We take pride in understanding the struggles and rewards of touring. Because we are on the road as well, we get a clear glimpse of what the consumer enjoys and buys. Because we see and mingle with fans first hand, it helps us understand better our means of marketing a project.
Hallels: Who are currently signed to the label roster?
We currently represent Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, The Collingsworth Family, Beyond the Ashes, The Browns, The Perrys, Doug Anderson, Devin McGlamery, and selected classic music from the Cathedrals, their legendary bass singer, George Younce, and the Cathedrals Family Reunion.
Hallels: What do you look for in an artist before you sign them?
We look at several things. The obvious ones would be talent and personality. But we also look at the platform of an artist. We consider their touring schedule and whether or not our team can help them grow. It's easy to make a great recording, but it's very tough to sell it in today's market. Everyone has to be on the same page.
Hallels: What are your involvements in these albums coming out on StowTown? Do you help select the songs? Produce them? Or is it more a hands off policy?
We are very involved in each project. We want to be excited about our releases. We have to be proud of them. We have to know each recording like the back of our hands. If we don't know anything about a recording, we can't get the sales and marketing teams on board. That would be a template for disaster in our opinions. These projects take hours of listening, rehearsals, recording, arranging, and of course, lots of prayer.
Hallels: We are really excited that the Perrys have a CD coming out for the label. What is it like working with them? Tell us a little more about their forthcoming album.
We are excited too! (Wayne Haun) I have been producing The Perrys now for 17 years. They are family. I've watched Jared grow up. I've toured with them, vacationed with them, eaten millions of calories of Libbi's exquisite cooking. If she ever quit singing, she could be a chef. That's not to mention the countless hours of time we've spent together rehearsing and recording. I cherish their friendship and I'm their biggest fan. I am so proud of Tracy. He daily makes progress with his physical therapy following his massive stroke and multiple brain bleeds last year. He has been at every meeting from day one of this new recording. On the day we signed them, Tracy signed the contract, himself. I still look at the press shots and cry, and yet I smile. As far as Libbi goes, there's not enough room to write. She is a steel magnolia. She is the strongest person I know. (Ernie Haase) This project is very unique. As soon as you hear it, you know it's the Perrys. They haven't strayed from what they know their fans expect. As usual, the songs are strong. I was listening to some pre-mixes the other day and literally laughed with joy at how much Jared sounds like Tracy.
Hallels: Ernie, you have just released a "Live" record but it's not a StowTown release, do you intend to release an album on your own label?
(Ernie Haase) The Gaither organization has been such a big part of the ministry of Signature Sound. We cherish our relationship with each of them. Signature Sound currently has two releases on the StowTown label, "Here We Are Again" and "Glorious Day."
Hallels: Looking forward into 2014, what are some of the releases we can anticipate? And where can our readers go to find out more about StowTown Records?
Doug Anderson released a new project called, "Drive" in January. The Perrys recording, "Into His Presence" will release April 8. We will have an early fall release called the "Inspiration of Broadway" with J. Mark McVey with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. Readers can find us on the web at www.stowtown records.com, Facebook/StowTownRecords and Twitter @StowTownRecords.