Slaton’s work in the studio helps produce top-notch pageant

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, June 17, 2018

If you want to journey behind the scenes and see how the Miss Mississippi pageant works, you first have to travel over to Hummingbird Recording Studio. It’s there that owner Kimble Slaton works to make sure the sound you hear during the competition is top notch.

Slaton started working with the pageant 21 years ago, and has been in charge of the music for the past eight. Slaton’s son was also involved in the pageant for a number of years as a dancer and entertainer.

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Slaton’s responsibilities include helping with the audio at the pageant, recording and mixing the contestants’ statements that will play during the evening gown phase of the competition, and working to make the big production number that will feature all 49 contestants and the production number’s featuring the princes and princesses sound smooth.

In order to do this, Slaton enlists the help of local teenagers and singers who are close to the age of the contestants to record extra vocal tracks, and 1992’s Miss Mississippi Kandance Williams Peppers to help coach them.

“We’ve got the contestants who are on stage singing this song, and it’s impossible to mic them all, so we add these filler vocals to make the room sound big, so it’s not as dry,” Slaton said. “If you were watching the TV show and you heard two people singing and you looked on stage and there were 49 people singing, you’d think something was wrong. So we try to make it as full and realistic as possible.

“Same with the kids, they’re jumping around and dancing around, they’re singing their hearts out, but it’s impossible to mic them when they’re running around like that, so we add the filler vocals just to raise the production value a little,” Slaton explained.

Peppers has been helping with the vocals for the pageant for about 29 years now, and loved being able to stay involved.

“It’s a little bit different than my day-to-day life as a musician in Nashville, so it gets to fulfill a different part of the music in me that I get to experience,”  Peppers said.

Another of Slaton’s duties is making sure the contestants who are going to sing for the talent portion of the competition have everything they need for their live performance, such as using a specific type of microphone.

“I’m more in tune with making sure the girl’s talent is absolutely as good as it can be, and it’s actually in my mind primary to the production, because they are competing and we are not,” Slaton said.