l engineer l mixer
History: There are very few of us that can
actually say that we have always known what we wanted to do. Such
is the case with veteran engineer, Tony Shepperd, who has logged
nearly two decades in this business. I knew from a very young
age that I wanted to be in music. It was a very big part of my life,
said Shepperd, who grew up in the extremes climates of Michigan
and Texas where he was active throughout his teens in the audio/visual
department of his high school. It was there that he developed a
fascination of the recording process that followed him through his
college years at Loma Linda University where he majored in photography.
It was a given in my family that I would get a college education.
There was nothing I could do but go and learn... but the minute
I got out I began building my first studio, he said recalling
his first big purchase of a Linn 9000. As the years passed the studio
grew right along with Shepperds career. He landed his first
big break in 1986 when Mervyn Warren of the group Take 6 heard some
band demos that Shepperd had produced. At the time Take 6
was the hottest thing going. They were just taking the music industry
by storm. So, when I got that call I was obviously thrilled. Little
did I know that I would be working with Mervyn all these years later,
Shepperd said referring to the Whitney Houston album,One Wish he
just finished recording and mixing for Warren.
resigned Take 6 in 1991 to launch his independent producing career.
His engineer of choice to go along for the ride? Tony Shepperd.
There was one, little condition... Warren was based out of Nashville
while Tony was a long-time resident of Southern California. The
opportunity to work with Warren was worth exploring so Shepperd
and his family pulled up stakes and headed south. It was good
timing. I was married, we had just had our first child and Nashville
is a great place to live and work.
Upon entering Music City, Shepperd began work on a year long project
with Warren called Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration which
featured 30 of the top black artists including Patti Austin, Tevin
Campbell, Stevie Wonder, and Quincy Jones. Working with such high-profile
artists increased Shepperds visibility and advanced his career
right along side of Warren. It wasnt long until Disney began
calling. The duo eventually hooked back up to do the soundtrack
for Sister Act Two. A highlight of Shepperds career came in
1994 when Kurzweil asked Take 6 to do a vocal library and Shepperd
was eager to put on tape his expansive knowledge of recording vocals
as it had grown considerably through the years intense work with
a variety of artists. Keyboard Magazine called that vocal
library the preeminent vocal library ever recorded
he recalls. That was an incredible experience. One thing always
leads to another. Everything builds on everything else.
The new Millennium brought with it the chance, as Shepperd puts
it, to get a Ph.D. in music by working with singer/songwriter
Kenny Loggins on his recently released Its About Time. I
learned so much from him. His career has spanned over 30 years and
he has amazing recall about any and all music he has recorded in
his career, he continues. Both of these men (Warren
and Loggins) that I have had the opportunity to learn from have
made me become better. They are both extremely perfectionistic.
They have a vision of their music and want to hear that vision coming
through the monitors. It has made me become a better listener and
taken me to a whole other level mix wise. I am implementing that
with the band I am producing now. Shepperd is currently developing
a much buzzed about group called Just Listen and he says he is drawing
on his experience with both Loggins and Warren as he goes in the
studio with the young band. He describes Just Listen and their front
man Katisse Buckingham as a cross between Emeniem and Steely Dan.
That description alone begs a listen...So, Just Listen.
Credits: Shepperd recently added another entry to his
resume (studio owner) when he opened his own private studio in his
home. A far cry from his first studio which sported a Linn 9000,
a NED Synclavier, Yamaha DX7 digital synthesizer, and an Ensoniq
Mirage, this new studio is perfect sonically and integral to Shepperds
business and life flow. It started out as a way to be closer
to my family as I am a total family man. The room turned out so
well sonically that I now need to be there to do my best work. It
is definitely part of what I bring to the table as an engineer and
producer." The studio boasts a Pro Tools HD 3 Accel that has
become central to Shepperds process. He proudly mixes everything
in the box and astounds mastering engineers, A&R execs
and sonic quality critics with the level of quality he is churning
As the music business continues to navigate through all of its present
day challenges Shepperd continues to renew his enthusiasm for his
craft on a daily basis. Just when you think you have had enough
of the music business I hear something fresh like this band I am
working with and it inspires me. For me, it always comes back to
the music. We are so lucky to work in such an inspirational medium.
Music is what makes me keep coming back. It is what gets me up,
gets me thru, gets me down, makes me remember, makes me forget.
It is one of life's greatest blessings. Im so glad I get to
be a part of this every day.