Miles Bell took me under his wing when I came to Nashville. We met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. He asked me to send him one of my tapes as he took a puff on his cigarette, grinned and said, "I don't know if I can help, but if you send me your tape, I can promise you this. I'll be honest with you."
Two weeks later, he called me and said to me in his unique way, "Well, little lady, I think, if I can put you with the right people, I might, and I repeat, I might be able to get you where you need to go". I had come to Nashville to focus on my songwriting, but he knew my background performing onstage in Las Vegas, so he wanted to find a producer who would showcase me.
We were having lunch one day at the Tin Roof before one of our meetings when he placed the salt shaker in the middle of the table and said, "What do you see? A salt shaker? On the outside this may look like a regular salt shaker, but it's what's on the inside that's counts." He laughed and said, "You are like this salt shaker. If we can figure out what's on the inside and package it, we can put it out there for the world to see. Then we just sit back and wait." Wait for what? I asked. He said, "We don't know what the world is going to see until we start getting calls."
Then he introduced me to Dan Posthuma, who became my producer for 'This Time Around'. Dan suggested showcasing my voice by singing a tribute to the great classics and the legends who made them famous. We recorded in Nashville at Blackbird, Darkhorse and the Sound Kitchen with the Nashville Strings and Brass and in Las Vegas with Bobby Darin's conductor, Bob Rozario and my father, saxophonist, Dick Kastel.
During the recording sessions, Miles would bring his friends and colleagues by the studio. He was so like a proud father. This was his baby. He loved this project. His favorite song was 'Over the Rainbow' and 'My Funny Valentine'.
Miles had the funniest sayings, but I always understood him, eventually. He had strong opinions and he was brutally honest because, as he said, "If I don't tell you, who will?"
I loved his honesty and he made me feel special. That was his way. I can picture him doing the same thing with his huge roster of clients back in the 80's and 90's, when he was booking groups 24/7. I believe he could see into the heart of an artist and dig out the potential hidden inside.
He has been an inspiration to me and I felt blessed to get the benefit of his advice; but he was more than a manager to me, he was a mentor and a good friend, and I feel his spirit will live on in those whose lives he touched, like mine. He will be missed.