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Monica Behan celebrates where she’s at with new album, concert

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CLAYTON — In her life and with her music, Monica Behan is “Right Where I Need To Be.”

That declaration also is the title of her new album, which she will celebrate with a July 19 concert at the Clayton Opera House.

For the past few years, it’s been a heart-wrenching journey for Ms. Behan, a Watertown native who splits her time between New York City and her home on the St. Lawrence River.

“It’s a good composite of snapshot moments in a journey,” Ms. Behan said of the songs on her fourth album.

“Right Where I Need to Be” will be released this fall.

The inspiration for her new album began about four years ago.

“I went through quite a cathartic experience after a 17-year relationship breakup,” Ms. Behan said. “I had questioned everything I felt to be true about my ideas like love, honor and who I was after they all crumbled.”

But, she added, “Even though that was one of my most painful experiences, it was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. When everything breaks down, it gives me that opportunity to sort of take a look at what’s working and what’s not and to build things back up again.”

She has recorded with RCA Records and Chrysalis Music Publishing and has written for film and television. Her songs have been heard on the Fox, Lifetime, CBS, UPN, TNT and Disney networks.

Ms. Behan is largely known for blending folk, blues and jazz in her music. Her new album, however, is mostly jazz.

“It’s a confluence of old-style jazz from the 1940s and some more modern arrangements from the 1960s,” Ms. Behan said. “But there’s still a bit of folk influence.”

Ms. Behan said that as her life changed, so did the approach to her writing.

“I started to write the melodies first — simply a cappella,” she said.

She then sent those melodies to New York City jazz pianist Loston Harris, who added chords to her tunes.

“What was coming out of me when I would sing without chords were these melodies and sounds that were from other time periods that sort of took me by surprise,” Ms. Behan said. “So they ended up having a life of their own. When Loston put the jazz chords underneath, it became a new paradigm for the approach to writing for the whole record.”

Three-time Grammy-award-winning producer Russell Titelman produced “Right Where I Need to Be” for Ms. Behan. Mr. Titelman has produced records for Paul Simon, James Taylor, Chaka Khan and others. He won one of his Grammys for Steve Winwood’s 1986 album “Back in the High Life,” which Mr. Titelman co-produced with Mr. Winwood.

“He’s someone I’ve always dreamed of working with,” Ms. Behan said of Mr. Titelman. “The timing and the material all worked at the same time. I had been sending him songs that I’d written over the last few years, and he’s a fan of my music. He became involved right away when he saw the direction I was going.”

Also key to her new record, Ms. Behan said, was Bret R. Zvacek, director of jazz studies at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. Mr. Zvacek was the arranger for the orchestra on “Right Where I Need to Be.” An arranger’s main goal is to make sure that every aspect of a music piece is well-harmonized.

Mr. Zvacek will be the conductor at Ms. Behan’s July 19 concert in Clayton. Ms. Behan will be backed up by a 12-piece ensemble, the Everybody’s Hooked Orchestra, for the jazz portions of her concert and by five musicians for her earlier works of folk and pop songs.

The details
WHAT: Monica Behan with the Everybody’s Hooked Orchestra
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. July 19 at the Clayton Opera House, 405 Riverside Drive
COST: Tickets are $30. Reserve tickets are available at the opera house or online at claytonoperahouse.com
OF NOTE: Ms. Behan’s new album, “Right Where I Need To Be,” is scheduled for release in the fall. However, Ms. Behan has 100 pre-release copies of the album that will be available at the concert for $20 each.
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