• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Range can’t sing, but music became his life’s work

GROOVES RECORDING STUDIO, located in the basement of their Versailles home, has become more than just a business for John Range and his wife, Teresa “Derby” Laine. Range can do a lot to improve the sound of someone’s singing voice in his studio, but acknowledges, “You can’t make something good out of something that’s not there to start with.” (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Sitting in a recording studio and being able to adjust a knob “and hear the difference in the music” never gets boring for John Range. The Woodford County native spends most days recording, mixing and mastering music projects for writers and singers. Anyone with an interest in music or those wanting to pursue a career in the music industry can record a song or songs at Grooves Recording Studio on Lexington Road in Versailles. “I can supply studio musicians that are really top-notch to back whatever they want to build,” explained Range. Or if a singer or musician wants to use prerecorded music, “then I mix it or master it and give them a CD or CDs…” He can do a lot to improve the sound of someone’s singing voice by adjusting the dials on a mixing board in his studio, but acknowledged, “You can’t make something good out of something that’s not there to start with.” Over the years, Range said he has worked with the Ink Spots and Billy Ray Cyrus before he recorded his mega hit “Achy Breaky Heart” in March 1992. “I saw him later in Nashville and he came over and gave me a big hug,” said Range, who had urged Cyrus not to give up on his dream of becoming a country music singer. One of Range’s biggest musical successes was producing “Ridin’ with the Legend” – a tribute to NASCAR driving legend Dale Earnhardt – in his Versailles recording studio. He and his wife, Teresa “Derby” Laine, sold 1,500 CDs in about an hour-and-a-half at Bristol Speedway. “That song became the most requested NASCAR song in the country,” said Derby, a singer/songwriter. For nearly three years, the couple went “to nearly every NASCAR track in the country … promoting this song and selling it at the track,” said Derby. She and Range, who have been married since November 1995, also remember one singer who had so much potential, but never pursued a career in the music industry because life got in the way. “…I’m not a singer,” acknowledged Range during a recent interview. “I know when it sounds right, but it won’t come out of here (pointing to his mouth). I can whistle like crazy,” and he played trumpet for many years, “but singing – that’s just not my thing.” Yet, electronics – and music – have been constants. His dad was an electronics engineer (before venturing into real estate) and his mom played piano and was a ballroom dance instructor for many years. Blanche Range continued giving dance lessons in the basement studio of her family’s home until she was 86 years old. Range moved Grooves Recording Studio into his mom’s former dance studio in 2006. “At that point,” he said, “it had become a pretty good little business.” Range had worked at Texas Instruments for about two years in the early 1960s before starting and then selling a business installing security alarm systems, which allowed him to start a hobby in the early 1980s. That hobby soon became a career in the music recording business. Range said he went from using a four-track mixer in an office to a small basement studio. By 1985, his hobby turned into “Grooves Recording Studio” – a full-time career. He and Derby also operated a mobile DJ business called “Grooves on the Move,” up until a couple of years ago. “We’ve gotten so busy now with the studio,” she explained, “we can’t do both,” before adding, “Just locally, we help out our community,” providing recorded music during pageants and other entertainment events at the Woodford County Fair since around 1995. Winners of its annual karaoke contest receive a free recording session at Grooves Recording Studio. Asked how music has shaped their lives, Range said, “Music is basically like a psychological medicine.” “When I write a song,” adds Derby, “it’s my therapy.” She knows a song has a chance at success when “you feel it.” “If it makes you cry, laugh or get up and dance – then it’s a hit.”

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