Those looking for a creative and confidence-boosting “experience gift” this holiday season might consider recording sessions offered by The Oaklander Hotel. Whether giving someone you love a chance to hop into the booth and behind the mic — or presenting a recording you’ve specially prepared yourself — Rock ‘n’ Oak knows how to bring joy this festive time of year.
Like no other hotel
The team hasn’t learned of any other hotel in the country offering a similar amenity, with the exception of the Hard Rock in Vegas (with its much larger studio). “[The Oaklander] truly pays homage to the musical scene and celebrates the deep musical roots of the city and neighborhood,” says Josh Valasek, Director of Sales and Marketing. Not only is Pittsburgh the birthplace of the first all-African-American opera company and once the home of Billy Strayhorn, Perry Como and George Benson, but the city also boasts a long tradition of rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, blues and bluegrass. The Oaklander also happens to stand on the former site of the Syria Mosque, which in its 1940s and 1950s heyday hosted concerts by Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and later the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd.
Since the hotel launched the recording program in its cozy, ground-floor studio, they’ve received requests from folks wanting to do voiceovers, podcasting and vocal practicing, too. “The nice feature of the equipment that we have on-site is it’s mobile and can be placed into a meeting room or private suite, if needed,” says Valasek.
Sing with your group or go solo!
Corporate customers have been known to use it for team-building exercises and playful musical numbers in between meetings. “The booth can hold up to four to five individuals singing at one time,” Valasek adds, “so groups are always welcome should they feel shy to sing just solo!” The booth engineer can have the background track and lyrics available for requested songs.
So how to flex those vocal muscles yourself? Hotel guests enjoy a one-hour complimentary session, while non-guests get in on the fun with a fee of $75 per hour. Each session includes one-on-one time with the booth engineer who, upon completion, edits and sends a copy of the recorded experience through an email file. For an additional small fee (via a company the hotel partners with), guests can have the recording put onto a vinyl record with up to six songs on each side; they also get to design the vinyl cover.
While Valasek has yet to try out the booth himself, several colleagues have. Their glowing review: They walked away feeling like rockstars.
Part of a great staycation
Those looking to give the ultimate gift might also consider a staycation that allows you and loved ones to enjoy a luxurious hotel homebase before exploring Oakland highlights like the Cathedral of Learning, decked for the season, and the winter flower show and light garden on display at the nearby Phipps Conservatory. Cocktails and bites enjoyed at Spirits & Tales, perched high above town, is always a memorable way to end any day, too.
A new package launching in early 2024 will combine an overnight stay with a recording session and signature Rock ‘N Oak cocktail. In the 10th-floor lobby, look out for a record player and vinyl collection, from which guests can select their own music to play. A guitar is waiting for you to strum it, too.
Note: Book 24 hours in advance. Happy recording!
Story by Corinne Whiting
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