‘Holiday Wishes’Written by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Since early August, I have been listening to holiday music. Not because my Microsoft Entourage calendar is ahead of itself; I have been working with scores of local artists to compile a CD to a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Jamie Farr, Alyson Stoner, Crystal Bowersox, Mannheim Steamroller, Pat Dailey and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra are a few of the contributors who have donated their talents to the CD, titled “Holiday Wishes: NW Ohio Artists Unite for Make-A-Wish.”
I have been thinking about producing a holiday CD of local artists for a couple of years, but had not seriously pursued it until late this summer, during a meeting with Eric Slough, executive director of Make-A-Wish’s Northwest Ohio Region. Slough mentioned his organization’s annual fundraiser, coffee mugs featuring art by a local Make-A-Wish child that are distributed in Panera Bread locations. As we were talking, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head and I pitched the notion of compiling a CD that would feature local artists; the art normally wrapped on a mug could be used for the front cover. Slough pitched the idea to Development Officer Ellie McManus and their board of directors; we met with Panera Bread; and in early September, we received a green light.
While I contacted artists and matched them with songs, Slough secured funding for the project from General Motors/UAW Local 14, ensuring there would be no costs charged to Make-A-Wish (and that 100 percent of the $9.99 retail price of the CD will go to Make-A-Wish).
My wife Shannon has long worked with Make-A-Wish, and I have seen firsthand the literal miracles the organization is capable of. Raising two blessedly healthy boys adds to my appreciation for the Make-A-Wish mission. That standard meant I would not compromise on the quality of the CD, and I set my sights on the stars.
Then, the first three artists I contacted turned me down. That initially shook my confidence and had me doubting I could make the CD a reality.
But immediately, Jeff Stewart, Kyle White, Kerry Patrick Clark and Ramona Collins all jumped in with great enthusiasm, and we’ve never looked back.
I have faced very few projects with such enthusiasm — and such ignorance. I had no idea just what I was asking of the musicians, producers and engineers, in terms of time and effort. There will be another time for a more thorough thank-you list, but it is important to note that without Christopher Stoll of Zeta Recording Studio, David Mariasy of Audio Matrix Recording Studio, producer Mighty Wyte and attorney Larry Meyer, who guided us through the licensing maze, this never would have become reality.
There will be two dozen tracks on the CD, ranging from a harp solo by Nancy Lendrim to a Stones-y blast through Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph” by Voodoo Libido. Dave Gierke of Toledo School for the Arts helped secure Tower Brass, the Toledo Jazz Orchestra and Crystal Bowersox. Many of our media friends — 13abc’s Lee Conklin, K100’s Harvey Steele, Clear Channel “Voice of the Rockets” Mark Beier and FOXToledo’s Laura Emerson & Shaun Hegarty — stepped up and contributed vocals to spoken word tracks. Chrys Peterson of WTOL 11 brought Graceland to Zeta Recording with Hepcat Revival and channeled Elvis on a blistering version of “Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me.”
I will not give away all the surprises on the CD, but mixed with classics recorded by Tapestry, Sheri LaFontaine, Kate Jordan, Chris Brown and Candice Coleman, and a chorus from the Toledo Museum of Art are original, newly recorded works by Reedius Maximus, Clark, Jameil Aossey and Charles Lane, and Rugby.
I was humbled by the lengths the artists went to. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra recorded “Sleigh Ride” during a September concert in Findlay, and captured a playful, majestic performance that redefines the song. Farr went into Marc Graue Voice Over Studios in Burbank, Calif., and performed a lively “Visit from Saint Nicholas” that will be cherished by many generations of Toledoans. Dailey and Sylvania native Chip Davis, founder of Mannheim Steamroller, generously and speedily donated tracks to the cause. Jeff Stewart recorded a Johnny Cash-inspired version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” then unselfishly opened the track to a singing chorus of local Make-A-Wish kids.
There will be a number of ways to purchase the CD. Regional Panera Bread stores will sell the album, starting around Thanksgiving. There will be a public kick-off concert at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at The Blarney Bullpen; those CDs will be signed by some of the artists, and special packages donated by Alyson Stoner will be available. If your company is interested in buying bulk copies as a corporate gift, please contact Eric Slough at EricS@makeawishohio.org.
The Thanksgiving issue of Toledo Free Press will contain a complete guide to the CD, with behind-the-scenes stories and photos from several of the recording sessions.
Since early August, I have been listening to holiday and Christmas music. People are asking me if I am sick and tired of hearing these holiday songs.
The answer is an emphatic no. I love every one of these songs, what they represent, and the kids who will be helped by them. I’m already thinking about 2012. I can’t believe no one asked about “White Christmas” this year, and I know exactly who I am going to ask to record it for next year …
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Email him at email@example.com.
Tags: Alyson Stoner, Audio Matrix Recording Studio, Blarney Bullpen, Candice Coleman, Charles Lane, Chip Davis, Chris Brown, Christopher Stoll, Chrys Peterson, Chuck Berry, Crystal Bowersox, David Gierke, David Mariasy, Eric Slough, General Motors, Harvey Steele, Jameil Aossey, Jamie Farr, Jeff Stewart, Johnny Cash, Kate Jordan, Kerry Patrick Clark, Kyle White, Larry Meyer, Laura Emerson, Lee Conklin, Lighting The Fuse, Make-A-Wish, Mannheim Steamroller, Marc Graue, Mark Beier, Michael S. Miller, Mighty Wyte, Nancy Lendrim, Panera Bread, Pat Dailey, Ramona Collins, Reedius Maximus, rugby, Shaun Hegarty, Sheri LaFontaine, Tapestry, the Toledo Jazz Orchestra, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo School for the Arts, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Tower Brass, UAW Local 14, Voodoo Libido, Zeta Recording