Legendary Capricorn studio coming back to life with new recording sessions

A legendary Macon music venue will get back to laying down tracks next week.

Mercer Music at Capricorn is holding its first official recording session Dec. 7, run by Steve Ivey, a Grammy Award-nominated producer and Mercer University alumnus.

Betty Cantrell, Miss America 2016, and Jonathan Wyndham, a Nashville musician and contestant on “The Voice” two years ago, will each record a song.

Mercer Music at Capricorn renews the recording elements at the Capricorn Records building, where icons such as The Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band made music decades ago.

The Mercer-owned structure, now being renovated, will also have classrooms and performance venues and serve as a music incubator to promote the development of arts in Macon, said Ivey, an adviser for Mercer Music at Capricorn. The Lofts at Capricorn project will wrap apartments, offices and retail space around the building. Officials announced the $25 million initiative nearly a year ago.

The recording session will happen in one of the old studios — still unrenovated — for five or six hours, and “The Creek” 100.9 FM will do a live broadcast throughout the day.

“The main reason I’m doing this is to create awareness and to just let people know (Capricorn) is back,” Ivey said. “It’s time for everybody to know this is real and it’s happening next week. I just wanted to do something monumental to kick this off.”

Ivey, co-owner of Ivey & Hicks management company and owner of Ivey Music International recording company in Nashville, manages Cantrell and Wyndham and worked with them to pick out songs significant for Macon.

Cantrell will be putting her own spin on “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” made famous by Macon’s Otis Redding.

“I kind of have an old, soulful sound to my voice,” said Cantrell, who is releasing her first country music single, “Solider On,” in December and her debut album in the spring. “I’m a huge fan of my state. With my life being based in Macon, it seemed really fitting to sing a song by Otis Redding. I want it to still sound like the original but put my own female twist on it.”

Wyndham, who released his first album in July and is putting together his band now, will record “Can’t You See” by The Marshall Tucker Band. A Lexington, S.C., native, he grew up listening to music from artists including The Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Eagles.

“It’s going to be a wee bit more bluesy than the original one,” Wyndham said. “I’m a firm believer that if you try to do something exactly the same, you’re going to come up short.”

Other musicians taking part in the session include keyboardist Paul Hornsby, producer for The Marshall Tucker Band and Ivey’s mentor and longtime friend; Marshall Tucker Band drummer Leroy Wilson; guitarist Rob Evans; and guest vocalist Charles Davis, both from “The Creek.” Ivey and Wyndham will also be on guitar, and an ensemble from Mercer’s Townsend School of Music will provide vocals for “Can’t You See,” Ivey said.

“These songs have been an integral part of my career. It’s setting the bar high, to go into a studio and be the first one to record in a long time and to rerecord a song,” Wyndham said. “It’s a big deal ... to walk on the hallowed ground that your role models (stood) on.”

Cantrell and Wyndham said it’s a privilege and humbling to be the first to record at the Mercer Music at Capricorn studios. Wyndham is trying to be overprepared and has learned his song backward and forward so he’ll get it right. Cantrell said the session is a memento to the icons who have performed at the studio in the past, and it’s also the kickoff for her career.

“It’s such a huge honor, and I’m so excited about it,” Cantrell said. “For it to not even be finished being renovated yet and becoming a part of Mercer, it feels like I’m starting before the beginning.”

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea