River of starsWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
The local Make-A-Wish Foundation has more than 90 pending wishes to fulfill, which means it’s time to step up and help this inspirational and invaluable organization. Christmas may be more than 130 days away, but it’s time to start listening to holiday songs that will help the kids depending on Make-A-Wish Foundation.
For Christmas 2011, Toledo Free Press produced “Holiday Wishes,” a CD of holiday songs performed by Northwest Ohio musicians. The CD was a 25-track compilation that raised more than $25,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was underwritten by Toledo Transmission and UAW Local 14, so every dollar raised, through sales at Panera Bread locations, went directly to Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Although Toledo Free Press had produced two previous CDs, one collecting historical recordings and one from a Toledo songwriting contest, neither approached the scale or complexity of “Holiday Wishes.”
The 2011 CD collected 25 tracks, with contributions from such Northwest Ohio stalwarts as Pat Dailey, Jamie Farr, Mannheim Steamroller, Sheri LaFontaine, Candice Coleman, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Crystal Bowersox and Alyson Stoner. It also featured new recordings from Kerry Patrick Clark, Jeff Stewart, Kyle White, Ramona Collins, TAPESTRY, Chrys Peterson & Hepcat Revival, Voodoo Libido, Mighty Wyte and Jameil Aossey, among several others.
With tremendous media support from the late, lamented FOX Toledo, WPOS, 101.5 The River and many of our media friends, the CD sold out in its Panera Bread locations, and even before 2012 started, we were thinking about a second volume.
Rather than start in late July, as we did last year, the 2012 compilation process started in January. Lexi Staples gave us a copy of a track her father, the late radio personality Dennis Staples, recorded of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” That required tracking down permission from Random House Publishing, Warner Bros. Studios and the estate of Dr. Seuss. With all those rights now granted, it will be a great honor to include that track on this year’s CD.
Pat Dailey has also generously granted use of another track. “River of Stars” is a gorgeous, soaring song that, while not strictly about the holidays, touches on many elements of the season’s most universal themes of spirituality, connection and unbridled hope.
LaFontaine has allowed us to include “Toledo My Hometown” on this year’s collection. It is a contribution that raises the bar for all the participating artists. “Toledo My Hometown” is a seasonal staple on The River, and it is an honor to have it on this year’s Make-A-Wish holiday project.
There are several artists returning from last year, but we’re keeping the collaborations and song choices under wraps until the recordings are complete. I will say that if the plans come together as hoped, we will be able to offer a CD that will raise the bar for future efforts. Suffice it to say that Stewart, White, Coleman, Peterson and our friends in Voodoo Libido and Hepcat Revival are among those talking to us about this year’s CD, and there are some exciting things on the way.
We are also working on a couple of historical surprises; if we do this right, each year’s CD will serve as an archive of Toledo’s musical history, even as it captures year-by-year changes in bands and styles.
This year’s CD will include a number of exciting new artists, from young country singers to veteran rockers. I am honestly not sure how we’re going to contain all this music on a single disc; it’s a wealth of riches.
Not that every wish comes true; we were hoping to include a track from Weezer’s 2008 EP “Christmas With Weezer,” but although bassist and Northwest Ohio native Scott G. Shriner was receptive to the idea, we were turned down by the group’s management.
The best news for the project is the return of three people who are behind the scenes, but are integral to the process; indeed, without them it would not have happened last year and would not happen this year. Chris Stoll, engineer at Zeta Recording, donates studio time and his finely attuned ears to the project. Matt Fehr engineers the CD and ensures the disc is produced to the highest standards of quality. Larry Meyer navigates the legal and publishing issues to make sure every t is crossed and every i is dotted.
My friend Eric Slough is no longer with the local Make-A-Wish chapter, but development officer Ellie McManus is a dream to work with and is a constant inspiration and reminder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s mission.
To that end, there is always room for more support. If your company is interested in making this year’s CD bigger and better, contact me or McManus at email@example.com. Our area Make-A-Wish kids try to retain the hope and inspiration of the holiday season every day of the year. It’s a blessing and privilege to be able to contribute to their dreams and at the same time spread the joy of the holiday season.
It may be the heat of August, but if you pass my car in Toledo and hear Christmas songs, you’ll know there are scores of people working on a project to benefit some of our region’s most remarkable kids.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: 101.5 The River, Alyson Stoner, at Dailey, Candice Coleman, Christopher Stoll, Chrys Peterson & Hepcat Revival, Crystal Bowersox, Danny Thomas, Dennis Staples, Dr. Seuss, Ellie McManus, FOX Toledo, Holiday Wishes, Holiday Wishes II, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, Jameil Aossey, Jamie Farr, Jeff Stewart, Kerry Patrick Clark, Kyle White, Larry Meyer, Lighting The Fuse, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mannheim Steamroller, Matt Fehr, Micheal S. Miller, Mighty Wyte, Panera Bread, Ramona Collins, Random House Publishing, Scott G. Shriner, Scott Shriner, Sheri LaFontaine, Tapestry, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Toledo Free Press, Toledo Transmission, Tony Thomas, UAW Local 14, Voodoo Libido, Warner Bros. Studios, Weezer, WPOS, Zeta Recording