Carla the Singing Parrot
Feathered Warbler Makes Recording Debut
Listen to Scott Simon's conversation with music producer Skip Haynes.
July 20, 2002 -- Like most 16-year-olds, Carla Mitchell loves pizza and the color green. And she has a voice that could pin your ears.
Carla is a double-yellow-headed parrot, and also a recording star. She's just cut her first album, Bird Beat, which will be released in September by the Laurel Canyon Animal Co. It features the song, "I'm a Green Chicken," with lyrics by Carla herself.
On Weekend Edition Saturday, music producer Skip Haynes tells Scott Simon that finding Carla was "kind of amazing because we actually went through three or four different birds."
In so doing, Haynes and his cohorts discovered that "parrots sometimes don't sound that good when you're actually listening through speakers or headphones."
So Carla was a real find. Haynes, who sings with Carla on "Green Chicken," says they recorded their parts separately, like Frank Sinatra did on his Duets album.
As this was Carla's first recording session, she needed "a little bit of coaxing -- just like any performer," says Haynes. Still, "she's actually less trouble than some of the other performers we work with."
Seeking ways to make the bird comfortable, they asked owner Lorrie Mitchell for advice. They learned that "apparently, Carla likes brunettes" and is most comfortable when there's a woman in the room. Haynes says they found a brown-haired woman upon whose shoulders Carla perched while she sang.
Carla also likes to listen to Judy Garland, so the crew gathered to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The singing "got her primed and in about 10 minutes we got the takes we needed," says Haynes.
The next step was to get Carla the proper songwriting credits through ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.)
"After they stopped laughing, they told us that they don't sign animals because they don't have Social Security numbers," Haynes says.
The Laurel Canyon Animal Co. site offers more song samples.