Holiday Wishes: All-star lineup records ‘Yes, Virginia …’ trackWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kaylee Halko rolled up to Zeta Recording in Holland in a black car. There was no entourage, just a driver.
Waiting outside for the producer to arrive, Tim Halko, one of her personal chauffeurs and father, asked if she wanted to go over her lines.
“Where are the cameras? Where’s the microphone?” the 8-year-old asked her dad.
The talent was waiting for the recording light to go on, as well as the paparazzi.
She’s familiar with the spotlight, thanks to appearances on “The Dr. Oz Show,” TLC’s “6 Going on 60” and a “20/20” special with Barbara Walters. All the programs profiled Kaylee, who has progeria, a rapid-aging disease.
For her recording debut, Kaylee sported a tank top with sparkling butterflies, a black and pink plaid shirt, black jeans, gray sneakers and a white cap with a pink ribbon.
In the waiting room, she made herself at home; the confident star sat back and propped her feet up on a chair until it was showtime.
She opted to get the publicity photos out of the way first.
Then the Monclova Primary School second-grader put on the headphones and was ready.
“Testing: Yo, yo, yo, what’s up?” she said in the recording booth.
Excitement was evident among a few fans who gathered that September day to see Kaylee, who was reciting two sentences for the track “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” for a Make-A-Wish Foundation CD fundraiser project, “Holiday Wishes.”
The red light went on and Kaylee said, “Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Please tell me the truth: Is there a Santa Claus?”
There were immediate smiles and nods in the control room.
“That was great, Kaylee,” said Chris Stoll, engineer at Zeta Recording, which donated studio time for the project. “Let’s do it again a little slower.”
Kaylee recited the lines as requested.
“Holy mackerel!” Stoll said. Tim beamed.
“OK, one more time, Kaylee. This time a little slower and be dramatic,” Stoll instructed.
The kid nailed it.
“Unbelievable!” Stoll said. “We’re done.”
“Peace out,” Kaylee said and started rapping, following less than three minutes of work.
In the control room, she lip-synced as the playback rolled, much to the delight of a couple of young fans.
Her voice opens the track, which also features Crystal Bowersox and Alyson Stoner along with local media personalities Lee Conklin of 13abc, Harvey Steele of K100 and “Voice of the Rockets” Mark Beier.
Steele said he was familiar with “Yes, Virginia,” a newspaper editorial written in 1897 by Francis P. Church.
“I’ve been around a while so I remember it as a kid as a newspaper editorial. However, I’m not as old as that editorial!’ Steele said. “We have worked with Make-A-Wish on many occasions in the 30 years I’ve been in Toledo, including their Sports Auction. We started a car show that benefited Make-A-Wish for several years and in fact my nephew was a Make-A-Wish child back in Illinois.”
Stoner, who has starred in such films as “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Step Up” and who voices Isabella on “Phineas and Ferb,” said she has also worked with Make-A-Wish.
“I have been affiliated with Make-A-Wish for years, participating in various fundraisers and one-on-one meetings at children’s hospitals. My family and I befriended a young boy, Dylan, whose wish was to be in a movie — (he screamed ‘Snake!’ in ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’) — and we’ve since stayed in touch and followed his journey.”
Stoner said although the text is more than 100 years old, modern technology aided her performance.
“The beauty of recording is it becomes the actor’s responsibility to build the imaginary world around them and experiment with different tones and inflections. I usually gather as many clues as I can from the director and production team. Then I read the material multiple times to find key words that hint to the character’s train of thought and personality. Thankfully, with digital capability, I can submit 10 takes in a work file and let a professional editor piece it together. I hope the story we’ve painted is accurate, sincere and absolutely heartwarming.”
Toledo Free Press, General Motors Co. and Panera Bread produced the holiday disc, from which 100 percent of proceeds will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana, Northwest Ohio Region. The $9.99 disc is available at local Panera Bread restaurants.
Back outside, Kaylee hung out with a few fans. One asked her, “What’s your favorite holiday song?” She replied, “Jingle Bells,” and launched into the version that mentions caped crusaders.
Walking to the car, she reminded her driver about stopping for ice cream at a local shop that offers a “Kaylee Cone.”