Inspired by female vocalists, bassist Victor Wooten recorded two companion albums.
Sword and Stone is also distinctive because it features primarily female vocalists, one of which - Crystal Peterson - is touring with Wooten's band. "I always loved supporting female vocalists," he says. "A good female vocalist is one of the most beautiful sounds in existence."
Writing with female vocalists in mind shaped the compositions themselves, often making them gentler. "It allowed me to do more softer things," Wooten says. "Ballads, a jazz waltz, different things like that, where a lot of times people know me for being funky or jazzy. Of course, there’s a lot of that on the record, too, but hearing the female softness of the voice, it made me go in a different direction in some places."
The albums also include versions of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" and Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Stevie's an obvious reference point on Sword and Stone, but the track has been around for eight years, and it was inspired by Crystal Peterson. Wooten saw her sing at a Christmas show in Nashville that his daughter was also a part of. "I approached Crystal one day and said, 'Would you mind coming to the studio and record something? Let’s just record something.' I wanted to document her voice. We came up with a song and what we wanted to do, and it happened to be “Overjoyed.” It’s one of the most amazing vocal performances I’ve ever heard. I added real strings to it, but her performance and the quartet of musicians playing behind her was recorded eight years ago."
That sort of impromptu recording is common for Wooten, who has pressed family members, friends, even midwives into service when he feels creative. These days, it's how he merges his personal and artistic lives. "If you’re at my house at I’m working on a song, I’ll ask you, 'You play anything?' he says. "f you do, you’ll wind up on the record. That’s how my kids get on the record, because they’re there. Now, they’re old enough and they’re good. They can do it for real. I use my wife a lot. My photographer who takes all of my pictures for my albums - I found out that he sang a little bit, so I put him on a song. It does help me out, but it also gives people who would never get a chance to be on a major record a chance to live that dream. I like doing that for people."