POWER DUETS: One Couple's Kitschy Pre-Wedding Ritual

LA nearlyweds blow minds with their self-produced pre-nup odes to Endless Love.

Sep 12, 2011 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

LA’s Jessica Kallam and Frank Charlton are executing the coolest pre-wedding ritual you’ll ever encounter.  In advance of their October nuptials, they’re recording POWER DUETS and releasing them to family and friends monthly. We’ve got the first four ridiculously kick-ass songs; let these classic and powerful love songs wash over you.

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*Just a heads up, the direct links are automatic, free downloads.


#1 Peter Cetera and Cher's "After All" (http://tinyurl.com/3srx89f)

#2 Elton John and Kiki Dee's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (http://tinyurl.com/6dkaa3x)

#3 Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes' "Up Where We Belong" (http://tinyurl.com/6gmvwo6)

#4 Lionel Richie and Diana Ross' "Endless Love" (http://bit.ly/qcBr0s)

I for one, needed to know more, if not everything, about the geniuses behind POWER DUETS and Jessica totally obliged.

Where Did The Idea Come From? We'd been pretty obsessed with "After All" by Peter Cetera and Cher...like for YEARS we would jokingly sing that together in the car or an elevator.  After we became engaged we sang that together one night and I think Frank brought up the idea "Wouldn't it be hilarious if we just recorded ourselves doing impressions and let everyone download them?"  So we thought it through and decided we'd come up with five or six to do, then release them monthly. 

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How Did They Pick The Songs? We picked our POWER DUETS based on a few criteria:


1. Legitimacy of the Duet.  Two independent artists who recorded between one and a handful of songs together.  This rule negates any Starship, Fleetwood Mac, and Captain and Tennille songs.  Those guys ALWAYS performed together, but Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers is a once-in-a-lifetime pairing.


2. Level of Fame.  This is where the word "POWER" from POWER DUETS is derived, contrary to public assumption. The people we're impersonating must be powerful figures. No Joe Schmo with Jane Nobody songs, just famous people ... or at least famous enough. For instance, Elton John is a huge international star, KiKi Dee is definitely not. Say her name, though, and you instantly think of their song, which means KiKi Dee is in fact famous, and so we covered that song.  An example to the contrary: "Total Eclipse of the Heart."  Who's the guy Bonnie Tyler sings with?  Technically Rory Dodd, but more importantly, WHO CARES. This song leads me to my next point:


3. Equal Airtime. REAL duet doesn't rest too heavily on one star or another, rather it highlights both their strengths equally;  "Endless Love" is a great example of this. You know what's a bad example?  "Total Eclipse of the Heart," AGAIN. Bonnie does all the heavy lifting, at times sounding like she's taken a chainsaw to her own larynx just to sound so badass, and that Rory guy just sits back, sings "turn around" a bunch of times and cuts out every time the chorus rolls in. Disqualified.


4. Cheese Factor.  Because it's obviously funner to hear us sing a lyric like "where the eagles cry on a mountain high" than something like "lucky I'm in love with my best friend."  We want our friends to laugh, not vomit.

My Favorite POWER DUETS Trivia: For "Up Where We Belong" we both recorded by candlelight, and for Frank's turn as Joe Cocker, he basically shot whiskey until he started slurring the right way. That's studio magic right there.

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Jessica and Frank met as students at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Frank graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Production and Engineering, Jesssica with a bachelor’s in Professional Music and Musicology. The lovebirds/songbirds live in the Los Angeles area, where Jessica conducts research for a music licensing company and Frank tests software for a wireless hi-fi music company, freelances as a music engineer and producer, and runs his own company, Halftone Productions. So basically complete amateurs, and by all means, readers, do this at home.

Jessica (@jessicakallam) is also an amazing embroidery artist, which is how I originally came to stalk her on Facebook a few months ago.

 The awesomest-engaged-couple-around releases a 4-song Christmas EP every year called Homemade Holiday, where they sing and play our favorite wintery songs, featuring many of our talented friends. The work we put into those is about 20 times the work we put into our POWER DUETS.”

The Could-You-Just-Die First Time Meeting Story: “Well we technically met on MySpace (haha) but we first spent actual time together at a Raffi master class presented by our school. Yes, Raffi the children's entertainer. Yes, he sang "Brush Your Teeth" and "Baby Beluga"...all the hits.  The Music Therapy department invited him to come perform and speak about his 'Child Honoring' approach to writing and performing music for children, which basically boils down to "show them tons of respect and always use any teaching moment." Frank and I had both listened to Raffi as toddlers, and since it's clear we're both fairly nostalgic people, of course we each grabbed a ticket for the show. Some friends forced us to sit next to each other and we've been together ever since.”

The Good-Luck-Living-Up-To-This-Anybody-Else Engagement Story: His proposal was a giant surprise.  We were at LA's Magic Castle to celebrate a friend's birthday when a magician asked me to assist him with a trick and a ring ended up in my hand. BUT I thought it was a type of prop magicians use, like a coin or special card, so I just said "Wow"...actually I said "Oh snap"...but then Frank grabbed the ring and got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, and I was so surprised that my jaw just hung open for quite literally 3 or 4 minutes.  I just WAS NOT expecting that, he got me good!”


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Jessica refers to her wedding as “soup” on Twitter to avoid getting spammed like a mofo. I think it’s adorable. I asked if she had any soup spoilers to share, and again, this stuff will blow your mind. The Kallam-Charltons do nothing small.

“Well we brewed a barley wine special for our marriage, it was Frank's idea. It's bottled in 75 bottles to open and share on our anniversaries; we did 75 so we'd never run out and hey, maybe there will be some amazing medical breakthroughs that will allow us to live to see our 100s.  We also capped two large (22oz) bottles of the barley wine to share with our immediate families and wedding party at the wedding. We're looking forward to seeing how the flavor differs each year.

We're giving out POWER DUETS CDs at the wedding as favors. On it will be the five tracks we released before the wedding and the sixth and final track will be a special track that our guests get an advance copy of, since we won't be able to put the last one online until a few weeks after the date. We're also playing with the idea of releasing a new POWER DUETS track each year on our anniversary.” 

Can’t argue that these crazy kids are meant to be together. Heeeeey, was that an “Islands In the Stream” teaser way up top??