From percussions to producing, music has always been a major part of the Hubbard family, so it was only appropriate for the seven-member family to create an album during the COVID-19 lockdown.
As the county began hunkering down for the COVID-19 lockdown last year, James Hubbard pondered what he would be doing with free time he’ll have now that leisure activities and businesses were closed until further notice.
“I saw us inch closer and closer to a lockdown,” James Hubbard said. “So, I was wondering what I was going to be doing with that time since I tend to be someone who doesn’t lock down well, I like to be out and about. I wanted to do something that was going to be a creative use of the time.”
James Hubbard ultimately decided the best use of his time would be to create a music album, something he had always wanted to peruse but never had the chance to start.
“I thought I wanted to do something musically for a long time. I wanted to do something that would spread to the next generation — my grandkids,” James Hubbard said.
James reached out to his oldest grandson, Ethan Hubbard, who had experience with sound mixing and production, and asked if creating a couple songs would be something manageable. Little did James and Ethan Hubbard know, a few songs would expand to 13, and the rest of the family would play key roles in creating the album.
“It definitely didn’t feel like it was going to be an album when we first started working on it,” said Ethan Hubbard. “It felt like it was going to be three or four songs at most.”
Once he decided what he wanted to do, James and Ethan Hubbard gathered in his garage to begin recording songs James Hubbard said described his life and faith. Titled “My Life of Music: A Praiseworthy Journey,” he added the album doesn’t belong to just one genre of music, but instead incorporated songs across patriotic, religious and jazz genres.
“I did a lot of thinking and creating about what would exemplify my life and my love for music,” James Hubbard said. “My upbringing was surrounded by a lot of different genres like jazz, classical and patriotic music, but most of all hymns.”
James and Ethan Hubbard began recording songs for the album which were categorized as patriotic. From there, James Hubbard said the album took a turn into the classical genre, a genre he said he studied extensively throughout college.
“I didn’t know these songs before working on this,” Ethan Hubbard said. “But I grew to love them as we were working on this because now, I associate them with my family. Hearing each song after it was completed was so satisfying to me.”
As the duo was working on the first few songs, James Hubbard thought about bringing in other members of the family to assist with vocals and instrumentals. He asked his wife, Sandra, son Derrik, daughter-in-law Katie and his two other grandchildren, Camerin and Ashton, to play various roles during the album-making process.
“It didn’t start off as a huge project,” said Katie Hubbard. “(James) approached me asking if I would sing a few songs. I thought that it was doable and I’d be able to help. Over time, my role grew bigger and it became something we all got involved with.”
Katie Hubbard added each member of the family had creative input with their role, and it became something the entire family enjoyed.
While James and Katie Hubbard focused on vocals, grandsons Cameron and Ashton played instruments, with Cameron playing the clarinet and Ashton on percussions and drums. Derrik Hubbard contributed to the album with the piano and creating his own renditions of the songs.
“(Sandra) played the role of the narrator of my life’s story,” James Hubbard said. “She made my simple life story sound like a compelling adventure, which helped put into perspective what I wanted to say in the album.”
After four months of planning, and 10 months of executing the project, the next step was to take the album and put it in a digital and tangible form. To do that, the family needed to create an album cover and a marketing plan.
“Creating an album is one thing, but marketing it is another,” said Cameron Hubbard. “We had to think about how we were going to release it and what platforms we would be using.”
The family created music videos to go along with each song, which can be viewed on their YouTube channel, and had 100 CDs printed to pass out to friends and family.
“I can describe how I feel about the experience as just being gratified,” said James Hubbard. “I’m so grateful for the chance to make this album and I take very little credit for it. The pleasure came from being able to make this with my family.”