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Depending on your philosophy of how, or why, things happen, you could perceive the creation, or coming into existence of TortoiseClimbing as destined, or a serendipitous happenstance.  Here's the back-story.  You make your evaluation.

Music was the catalyst.  David has sung since elementary school chorus.  (Remember when public schools included music education in elementary schools?)  He continued singing in choruses and doing solos through and after college.  In the latter 1980's he moved out of choral singing that had provided him many wonderful life experiences.

Beginning in approximately 1990, based on a desire to do more with his love of singing, David started dabbling at recording.  Originally Bill McElroy was David's engineer and co-producer at Bias Recording studio.  Bill was one of the two owners and has a knack for being supportive and helpful to his clients.

Heidi came to work at Bias and from time to time assisted Bill in the recording studio with David.  Bill decided in about 1993 he wanted a change and started fazing out of Bias.  Heidi then became David's engineer.  The Bias website puts the year of Bill's departure as 1994, perhaps that's when they recall Bill no longer being full-time there, even though he continued to do occasional sessions there, and still held his partnership for sometime after that.  He eventually sold his partnership in Bias.  Bill's website gives a bit more background on what he did after he left Bias.  I remember that first it was with trains, but now Bill is back to running his own studio called Slipped DISK, about 8 miles north of Richmond, Virginia.  You can find out more about his new recording and mastering studio by clicking on SlippedDiscAudio.  Hopefully Bill and David will have an opportunity to work together again.

David finished his first private recording of romantic solo ballads with piano, dominantly from the World War II era about the time Bill decided to phase out of Bias, with a little assistance from Heidi.  A limited number of private release cassettes were produced and made available to family and friends.

With Heidi as David's engineer and he continued slowly recording what was envisioned as an album of largely romantic duets, dominantly from the early to mid 1990's, many from films and musicals.  Over the next 4 years dabbling on that project, David and Heidi's professional relationship expanded and evolved with Heidi coming to fulfill roles of associate producer, singing collaborator and very importantly, friend.

It is indeed a gift to have found two persons in Bill and Heidi with whom there is such simpatico.  Having worked with a variety of other persons where this simpatico did not develop, it is clear how precious it is.

Destiny or Happenstance?

The story of how Hymns for Living came into existence is a succession of serendipitous (or was it destined?) events.  The wonderful nuances are a scintillating, delicious story, and is a critical part of the TortoiseClimbing story.

While working on the romantic duet project with Heidi, David's father (John) died in late 1997.  In 1998 David's mother (Thelma) asked him to record an album of John's and her favorite, classic, traditional hymns as a memorial.  Thelma and David discussed whether the hymn album should be a simple, private recording for Thelma, with a limited number of copies for close friends and relatives, or whether it should be a quality recording with copies made available to anyone interested in the music and values that John and Thelma held dear.

Their decision was the album should be a quality recording and should be made generally available.  David began work on the album with Heidi, and every weekend David and Thelma reviewed progress and planned next steps together.  Sadly, Thelma did not live to hear the final recording.

But, their decision to create a quality album for general distribution was crystallizing!  David was trained (inculcated?) in the philosophy that you should diligently prepare for whatever might be your destiny.  The previous seven [90-97] years of experience slowly recording songs, his formal education including a masters in business administration, and his years of voice training before that, helped lay a foundation.  But, that was only the beginning.

In order to record and make John and Thelma's favorite hymns generally available, it was necessary to undertake and accomplish everything done by an independent record label.  This was a new, somewhat daunting undertaking without a mentor.  A whole new dimension of detailed business knowledge about what record labels must do either had to be hired or learned in order to produce an album for release to the public.  David chose to work on learning it.

For those interested, here is a short list of examples:


Finding a way to pay for the recording;


Selecting the numbers;


Arranging studio time;


Identifying and agreeing on arrangements and instrumentations;


Deciding what vocal harmonies to add;


Identifying and scheduling quality musicians;


Singing, re-singing mistakes, adding vocal harmonies so they exactly match the lead vocal;


Detailed mixing;


Deciding the order of the numbers;




Arranging for manufacturing of the CDs;


Development of information for the album cover, notes, and what turned into an undertaking to write a book about the history of the hymns and the times that shaped them;


Copy editing of the written material;


Determining how to package/market/distribute the CD, book, and possible karaoke CD;


Implementing ways to inform people the album exists and information about it.  One way chosen to communicate this information is creation of this Website.  That too in turn required -


Selecting a company to host the site,


Selecting and learning how to use a website authoring software,


Development of the site (done in-house by TortoiseClimbing),


Researching options for on-line ordering.

After accomplishing all this, and more, TortoiseClimbing had become a fledgling independent label.  So, was TortoiseClimbing destined or a serendipitous happenstance?  And, is there a future, or was this just a fling?

Well of course there is more to the story!

TortoiseClimbing would not exist without the interactions and support of others, especially Bill, Heidi and Thelma.  Bill was part of establishing Bias.  In fact, he was an engineer at a previous recording studio called Edgewood in downtown Washington, DC.  That is the studio used by Fague Springmann, a baritone voice to die for.  This is indeed a small, small world.  David sang in Fague's choir in college and had the opportunity to accompany Fague to one of his editing sessions there.  That was when editing meant using a razor blade to cut tape and then splice it.  Fague was instrumental in many of the wonderful choral experiences in David's life (Fague insisted on his chorus being used when he did solos.)

Bill was instrumental in getting David comfortable recording in a studio.  Heidi played a large role in shaping some wonderful recordings with David, and facilitating him becoming involved with several music organizations where he has met others working in the field.  So how did David and Heidi wind up working together?  Destined?  Serendipitous?

The reason David began recording at Bias, rather than at a number of other studios he was aware of, or had recorded at on other previous small projects, was shaped by events and influences, particularly including a personal friend who chose to make personal recordings at Bias and asked David to do some duets with him there with Bill.

There is also Heidi's choice to become a recording engineer, rather than a gourmet cook.  She studied recording engineering and was hired by Bias, rather than some other studio.  There is no way to know what other independent business conditions, choices, happenstances(?), etc., influenced her being hired by Bias rather than another studio.

Each of these separate circumstances and independent decisions contributed to bringing David and Heidi together.  Looking at it from the perspective of all these things happening, you're again lead to the question, was it destined or serendipitous(?) happenstance?  David does not know the answer, but considers the opportunity to work with Bill and then Heidi to be an incredible gift!

Heidi's decision to strike out on her own and start a business as a recording and production company has further enhanced their ability for collaborating.  Destiny and/or time will tell where their joint creations will evolve.  For more background information about Heidi click Before There Was All Access Audio which is previous material edited by David and preserved here for your edification.  For current information see the site for All Access Audio.

TortoiseClimbing coming into existence was shaped by all these things.  You make your decision whether it was destined or serendipitous.  But what of the future?  If you believe it was destiny, then what is TortoiseClimbing supposed to become?  If you believe it was serendipitous, then what can it become?

Our future will be shaped by our determination, perseverance, grace, assistance from others, and who knows what additional influences, including destiny and/or luck.  We look forward to a wonderful relationship with you, providing and facilitating access to music and other arts and things that convey and support philosophies that make life more worth living.  Presently this includes a couple wonderful vacation rentals virtually next door to Disney Worlds main entrance.

What Is Your Opinion?

So, is the existence of TortoiseClimbing a destined occurrence or a serendipitous happenstance?  Let us know your thoughts, and what you think we should undertake next.  Send us an email of your thoughts by clicking here.




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