Interview with Caroline McNamara, Producer of Tony Moore’s Musical Emporium

Every Saturday morning, I wake up at insane o’clock to prepare all of the admin for Tony Moore’s Musical Emporium.  A show on Soho Radio that has been broadcasting since the inception of Soho Radio in 2014.  Each and every week my wonderfully talented teammate Caroline McNamara prepares the Six Degrees Of Celebration where links between six songs are made in the most delightful way.   I appreciate the manner in which Caroline really pays attention to what music is selected, her weekly 6 degrees selection is always emotive and powerful.  Caroline has this way of making every single song in the 6 degrees to be incredibly purposeful throughout history and always provides the respect they deserve.  You will never meet a gentler human being, who honestly has such an INCREDIBLE voice! (Seriously Caroline you could easily record meditations and provide so many insomnia riddled humans with some much-needed rest with your angelic or as Tony always calls them dulcet tones.)

Once you are done reading my interview with Caroline, please come and listen to Tony Moore’s Musical Emporium NOW!

RWWM: We all have an inner critic. How do you contend with yours?

CM: Great Question – I actually don’t think I have ever contended with it outright. I think I pack it away after each episode knowing that it will come out again at another point and I need to just be ready again to take it on board.

RMMW: Do you have any rituals before writing each 6° Of Celebration for Tony Moore’s Musical Emporium?

CM: I like to have a clear head, feel ready to take it on and sometimes have a cup of good English Decafe tea by my side. Sometimes it can come together in a few hours and sometimes it’s a few days so I need to give myself plenty of time to ensure the music choices all connect and allow time for the recordings to completed.

RMMW: I completely applaud your research pertaining to the 6° of Celebration, which brings me to my next question: how do you decide your starting point song?

CM: I always try to pick that particular day in music and then I select the year which links to a strong musical highlight on that day. Sometimes I like to mix things up by choosing an artist or music industry person celebrating a birthday on our selected day. The theme of celebration will always be there each time.

Tony Moore, David Stark, Caroline McNamara
Caroline McNamara, Randy Edelman, Tony Moore

RMMW: Out of all the 6° Of Celebrations you’ve built, do you have a favourite?   

CM: Gosh – another great question Rania. I think that’s like picking your favourite child (I don’t have any but I do have nephews and nieces’ ha ha) I think one of the one’s which will always stand out for me was recorded for 21st Nov 2020. It was the weekend following the death of one of my best friends. It was clearly fate as the final song (song 6) had lyrics which resonated so much with how I was feeling about his death and how I believed he would always be with us.

RMMW: What do you enjoy most about building the 6° Of Celebrations each week? 

CM: I enjoy the fact I never quite know where it is going to end up, whether we might stumble into a particular era, that I will bring new tunes to the listeners or bring back some old favourites.

RMMW: This pandemic has created such global hardship, what do you miss most with regards to live music performances?

CM: There is nothing like ‘Live’, the atmosphere in the crowd and that fact you are there seeing your musical idols in real life. You get to sing along – ‘real karaoke’ and be among fellow fans and family for a great night out. It evokes so many memories you will keep forever – it has been so hard knowing we can’t do that and that a pandemic turned our music and social lives upside down!

RMMW: During the first lockdown musicians and artists opened up their homes into the world, to perform to keep everybody’s spirits high during a pandemic — what do you think our world would have looked like in the absence of those performances?

CM: I think our world would have been a very lonely place. They always say ‘Music is the soundtrack of your life’ I don’t think that has been more truer than now. I think we needed to know our musical idols were ok and feeling what we were feeling – anxiety, loss and loneliness. We needed to connect with others, and this was a huge turning point.

RMMW: What is your favourite aspect of producing Tony Moore's Musical Emporium? 

CM: The joy of a partnership with Tony Moore – we have a lot of fun recording the show together and I love listening to all the music which comes into us. It’s great to have the chance to ask questions to our guests when I can (live interviews permitting).

RMMW: What do you think is the greatest obstacle for Indie Musicians? 

CM: I think all musicians have similar challenges starting out. It’s about getting your music heard – opportunities for regular appearances e.g.; pubs, Festivals etc., building up that audience base and having the financial support to aid your performances and promotional work.

RMMW: What songs are part of your life playlist? 

CM: Songs that are on my life playlist include:

  • Dolly Parton – Baby I’m Burning. I am a huge Dolly Parton Fan and my brother bought me this track on 12-inch pink vinyl for my 11 th Birthday.
  • Red Red Wine by UB40. My parents got me a radio cassette player and my first album on cassette which was the first ‘Now That’s What I call Music’ in the UK. We are now on number 108!!
  • Kissing a Fool by George Michael. When I split up with my first serious boyfriend, I was heartbroken and I had this song played on a London radio station with a message for him. After meeting up at a birthday party some 7 years later, we got back together again. Whilst we stayed together for some 4 years, I never ever told him about that dedication xx

RMMW: You have the perfect spoken voice; do you have a musical background? 

CM: Thank you for saying that – I am chuffed to hear that. I love reading and presenting (once the nerves kick out). My English teacher at secondary school (age 11) gave me such a hard time but when she discovered I had a clear reading voice (or one she liked) I was constantly picked to read in class much to the consternation of some of my fellow class mates!! My parents love music and I started to learn the piano but never kept up lessons when I changed schools. I think that should go back on my bucket list.

RMMW: How did you first get involved in producing Tony Moore’s Musical Emporium? 

CM: I first met Tony when we were both part of a team which opened The O2 in London. I always loved his work and one day I contacted him to ask if he would allow me to come and watch him do his radio show on a Saturday morning. Thanks to Tony, letting me come along on further weeks, I got the bug and loved it. Tony then showed me how he sets up the show for the acts and I began to help him with that process. I then asked Soho Radio if they would let me sit in other shows so I could see how their show producers work on each show and that allowed me to learn how to produce for Tony. Tony has had some amazing producers who I learnt a lot from and I thank them and Tony for letting me grow into the role.

RMMW:  If you had a superpower what would it be?

CM: The ability to make people feel amazing and super confident. I have always wanted to just make people feel happy and great about themselves and I want to feel the same, so that would be my superpower.

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