Dana Sorey is a renowned producer, and his work has been featured on top selling gospel music albums. His extensive body of work is drawn upon as an influence for arising producers, songwriters, and arrangers as well as his contemporaries in the global world of music. Sorey describes himself as a music fan, first. He also describes himself as a man who loves God, a husband, an entrepreneur, a songwriter, a producer and arranger. His description of his work ethic is that he believes it’s ok to be the underdog and is perfectly fine out-working the more talented guy. His musical influences include Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones, David Foster, Tommy Simms, Earth Wind & Fire, The Winans, El Debarge, Chic Corea and the Electric Band and Jaco Pastorius, Marvin Gaye and The Isley Brothers. He is a man with his own sound developed in part as music director for Cindy Barber & The Voices of Praise (their first album) and later, keys on Tye Tribbett & GA’s “Concepts & Ideas”.
He has since become one of the most in demand producers for both sacred and secular artists and clients. Names like Boyz II Men, McDonald’s, Macy’s, Walmart, Eric Roberson, AnG White, Jason Nelson, Maranda Curtis, Anthony Brown, Gene Moore and Lexi round out a notable portion of his clientele. His prowess encompasses all levels of performance and Sorey has done stage coaching for artists like top Christian artist and multiple award winner, Francesca Battistelli, Love and the Outcome, and About a Mile. He has become one of the Gospel industry’s foremost songwriters, producers and arrangers and shares much of his accumulation of knowledge with his SHMM program. Now, it’s time to get to know Dana Sorey.
GP: What album has most influenced your approach to music production and songwriting?
DS: Too many to count. Off top, every Yellow Jackets record. All Motown records, MJ’s “Off the Wall”, Bill Withers’ “Just As I Am”, and Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In the Key of Life”.
GP: What is your favorite album (of all-time) and which album influenced you to journey into music production, songwriting and arranging?
DS: Bang Zoom (Bobby McFerrin) prompted my thoughts on making money from home, which ended up being production.
GP: Who is Dana Sorey the songwriter? Which song is your biggest hit?
DS: I always say that I’m one who pulls songs from conversations! Hit Records? Jeesh, my biggest song to date, is Jason Nelson’s “Shifting The Atmosphere” and the second would possibly be “Open Heaven” (Maranda Curtis).
GP: What gear makes up your current production arsenal? What is in your studio? What are your software must-haves?
DS: My studio Vintage Gear List- Suitcase Fender, Roland Juno 106, and a Hammond A-100. C Blake Studios (Dana’s studio) has several vintage mics, pre’s and a TOFT console from the UK. I am an analog Producer, so I have very little digital gear.
My software- ProTools, Logic 10/11, Ableton Live and Reason 11 (My newest DAW). I buy all that is popular- you must stay ahead of the game, always.
GP: Describe the most rewarding experience during production of an album (pre-production, performance, and post-production, included).
DS: The most rewarding experience to-date will always be my tenure with Tye Tribbett & “SoundCheck”, we grew from musicians to producers together. Undeniably, this experience has made me the producer I am today.
GP: You work with artists in multiple genres. What are the differences and similarities to your approach with secular vs. gospel music?
DS: I’d say that the difference between gospel and secular music is the content of what’s being sung. My production is based on what’s being said in the lyrics and once I know who we are singing to, I go from there. As a producer, I do my best to create vibes based on the audience. I’m thinking, “are we are about to dance or are we touching someone’s heart on a song?” Similarities of both genres will always be my creating a signature sound for each artist. SONGWRITING 101– Melody is KING and always find those Monster HOOKS!
GP: As a writing arranger, how do you approach additions to songs that are fully written?
DS: Songs are conversations. The artist’s story, upbringing, flaws, and strengths are the songs people will connect with. Being a writer or co-writer only feeds the arrangement. Making left and right turns on a tune is what I live for. If there is song that is fully written, I welcome it. I never try to steal credit or force my way on something. My job as producer is to gather content that will aid the album to be the best body of work. I serve the song, that’s my job!
GP: What is arranging? Are there instances when music comes in fully ready, or is there always a need for “arranging” once it gets to your studio?
DS: Arranging is organizing a composition for performance and it is a necessity, in my opinion. It’s one thing for a song to be fully written, but arranging it is a whole different task. I ask, “How will it feel performed? How many times do we sing the chorus? Are the verses too long? Did we sing the song for four minutes or eight minutes?” (Churchy artists will run a song in the hole) Someone must stop this madness. HaHa
GP: What is the mindset creatives should have about other arrangers touching their work once it’s “finished”?
DS: I teach my students that if someone isn’t touching or listening to your music, it will never be “battle tested” and chances are, it will only sound AWESOME to you. It is imperative that you share and welcome collaboration as much as possible. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of gospel artists do not run to write with others. In that regard, the Gospel genre has a long way to go. Notice, Christian artists share splits and collaborate all the time. (Hint Hint…) Also note that secular music will have five to seven writers on one song, what does that say about our gospel genre?
GP: What is the StayHome$ Movement on Patreon, what are the core principles of the program and how can people sign up?
DS: SHMM is just a forum for me to tell my story and inspire producers, songwriters, marketers, and business owners to find their own paths to self-employment. We teach be a BOSS-invest only in yourself while working for “The Man”! In the curriculum, I share my small success story on how I built my own factory at home. I don’t depend on gigs, touring money or church salaries to survive. We must become the lenders not the borrowers.
GP: *BONUS* Have you created any new music during the quarantine?
DS: Is that a trick question? Ummm.. HECK Yeah!! I was on fire during the quarantine. COVID-19 was the perfect time to reset and build new music.
Like most creatives, Dana Sorey can’t wait to get out and make music again, specifically a LIVE recording. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Sorey has proven that he has no problem being at home, making music and money! Dana is a major player in the industry you need to know. He is a major force behind some of your favorite songs and has been instrumental in the crafting of some of your favorite artists’ sounds. As a producer working with both sacred and secular artists and clients, Sorey is well rounded and brings a broader perspective to the world of professional music. We hope that you have enjoyed learning more about Dana Sorey and are inspired to work to increase your value as a contributor in professional music.
“Wait for No Man! Your goal should always be the word “COMPLETION”. If you can’t finish what you start, you will never go to your next level. Baby steps are the path to footsteps. Lastly, in forging your own path, what footprints will you leave behind?” -Dana Sorey