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$6,780 pledged of $12,500 goal
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By Liz Huff
$6,780 pledged of $12,500 goal
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About this project

 How we got here:

Hey, y’all! I’m making a Christmas album! Which, for me, begs the question, how did I get here?! Short answer: Singing at the wedding of one of my best friends and a plane ride. The longer answer is a little more complicated and I hope to answer that with the video and what you’re reading right now. And the complete answer? Well, that starts when I was maybe two. Will have to check with my parents on that one, to see when I started singing and making music, but I know it was early on. 

Singing at wedding in Silver Lake, October 2014
Singing at wedding in Silver Lake, October 2014

Setting the Scene:

I’ve just sung Gershwin’s Love is Here To Stay in a fairy tale setting in Silver Lake, up in the hills of Los Angeles. Spanish house, tiled courtyard with twinkly lights, handsome couple, lovely guests, a magical evening in early October. I’m sitting on a couch, when another guest joins me, and seemingly out of the blue, he asks, “Do you have a Christmas album?” Me: “uh, no?” (buh?) He went on to say, “You should! I’d buy it!” Hmm. Tucked that thought away for later, sang some more and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Site of wedding, hillside on left, courtyard on right.
Site of wedding, hillside on left, courtyard on right.

Thinking about it:

Fast forward to about 36 hours later, our flight home. In-flight movie, Begin Again, starring Mark Ruffalo as down-on-his luck record producer and Keira Knightly as fledgling singer/songwriter who just needs a break. They meet, and as luck or serendipity would have it, record an album on the run, guerilla-style, in locations all over NYC. I’m watching this movie/scenario unfold and then pause to look at the sky, “Okay, universe, I get it! Gotta think about this Christmas album thing.”

Realizing the dream:

Back home in Cleveland I start thinking about the idea, wondering if I’m crazy, but – I used to work at a record company, so I know how that part of the business works. I *am* a trained musician and pretty decent, if I say so myself. I am blessed with lots of friends who also happen to be musicians, and with whom I’d dearly love to collaborate on a project like this, not to mention I really like the idea of creating paying gigs for fellow musicians and other artists who’d be involved in the project.

Why Christmas music, why now?

Having gotten to the notion that I really liked the idea of making an album, thought harder about the idea of it being specifically of Christmas music, and came up with a resounding "Yes!"  Why? Well! Let me tell you:  I love Christmas - I love the decorations, the music, the parties, and yes, the sentiment of wishing for peace on the earth, good will to men. (For men, women, Whovians, all of us, yes, I like that idea! Oops, let my nerdy side show, there.)

Christmas Party!
Christmas Party!
Yours truly: enjoying myself to pieces, laughing at a Christmas party!
Yours truly: enjoying myself to pieces, laughing at a Christmas party!

The Music:

So - imagine you've supported this project and then one day a cd magically arrives in the mail and you open it, and - what do you find?

Not one, but TWO kinds of Christmas music!  I am enamored of both jazz-flavored Christmas standards and Celtic-flavored, sparser styles, and thought, "Let's do both!" but not all mushed together, as that'd be a little weird. We're doing a Side A/Side B thing; one half more jazzy, the other a little more Irish.

Where You Come In:

Most amazing and wondrous to me: every time I’ve said these words out loud , “Hey, I’m thinking about making a Christmas album,” the person I’m talking to says, “Great/that’s cool/that’s awesome AND, I’d buy that!” Which is fantastic, cuz it’d make me super sad to put this cool thing together only to have it languish on one of my dusty bookshelves….

That’s where you, lovely people, come in! I’ve mentioned collaboration – absolutely necessary to make music and a joyful thing, and necessary to make this dream come true! I can’t make the music alone, and I can’t make the project happen alone either. I’m asking you to take a chance on this dream with me by supporting the project here on Kickstarter. Take a chance on our dream, and I’ll make sure you get something wonderful and sparkly marvelous back! 

So, how about it? You in?

Tiny Christmas tree my parents gave me in college. I still have it. :)
Tiny Christmas tree my parents gave me in college. I still have it. :)

 The Details:

Cool people involved include the following:

Jordan Cooper on piano, also music director for this shindig. Jordan’s amazing – he was pianist and music director for The Light in the Piazza at Lakeland Civic Theatre in 2014. Piazza is one of my favorite shows I’ve ever done, largely due to the cast, director, and people like Jordan!

Linda White, flute – an amazing player and really cool person, check her out here: Linda White.

Bob Gruca, guitar – also an amazing player (really, all of these people are) and he cracks me up. Bonus! Robert Gruca.

Ariel Clayton Karas, violin - more awesome sauce. Check out Ariel here: Ariel!

Mister Joe Barone, pianist and my official Overseer-of-Things. Joe keeps an eye on things and makes sure it all runs smoothly, with the occasional wise-crack or five.

Lindsay Krause Wissman, video – Linds made the fantastic video you’ve been viewing. She also makes cool knit stuff, what! Check her out at Etsy: Running with Sharpies.

Marshall Griffith, piano - one of my theory teachers whilst at CIM, now a colleague and friend: Marshall!  

Justin Hart, drummer - worked with Justin on The Light in the Piazza  at Lakeland, very happy to have him on board!

Tim Keo, upright bassist extraordinaire  - woot! 

• Other musicians and other cool people to be named – we’re finalizing the line-up very soon!

Budget, or, Where’s This Money Going?

• The recording studio! I want to make this album sound the best it can, the best WE can, hence working with Audio Recording Studio (they work with the Cleveland Orchestra and smaller groups, how lucky am I?) This starts with two days in July, then more in August.

• The musicians! See above 

• Making the CDs! 

• Making the little sleeve/box things the CDs come in! And cover art, let’s not forget that!

• Mechanical licensing and rights to songs 

• Photography - also creates work for local people, yay! Beth Segal does gorgeous work!

• Christmas ornaments for the Super Deluxe version of the album

Over and beyond the goal:

Monies above and beyond our goal would help us improve some of the things listed above, such as more money for cover art, photography, etc, and allow us to do things like have a CD release party and do more to promote the album once it’s done. Every little bit helps!

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenges to making this project happen:

1) Something happens to one of my collaborative partners/fellow musicians. Solution: I went to the Cleveland Institute of Music (have both Bachelor and Master of Music!), and so have an extensive network of musician friends from there and many other places that I can call on. I would hate for that to be an issue, but if it becomes one, there are plenty of people available to help.

2) I get sick and have to postpone recording. Solution: facing reality, that *would* be a problem! Happily I’ve had a lot of practice in keeping myself healthy and believe me, will be doing my best to remain so over the next few months! If we do have to postpone recording, will still do our very best to get things done in a timely fashion so that the album is ready for the holiday season. If there’s really a huge problem, it’ll be available for Christmas 2016.

We are planning for this project to have a Side A and Side B, old school style – one half leaning toward traditional jazz standard type Christmas tunes, the other half leaning toward Celtic-influenced songs. If necessary, we could deliver the album in two parts.

Other challenges might include needing to find other options for album artwork or a recording studio (unlikely, but you never know). I have connections to several recording studios, my day job is in the visual arts, and I used to work for a record company, so I have a fairly good sense of what it takes to make a record.

And if lightning strikes and melts all the cds, well, we’ll make new ones!

It’ll be an adventure!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Every dollar counts! A huge smile next time I see you.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Digital download of the album. Will make available as soon as the music's all ready! And love and gratitude!

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Digital download of the album.

    AND: a one-of-a-kind polaroid-style photo (Fujifilm Instax) from the recording sessions, mailed to you - each one will be unique!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The Christmas Album!
    You will get a signed physical copy of the Album, plus the digital download and unique studio photo. We plan on having the actual cd available ready by mid-October, will keep you posted. And we will include your name in the thank you/liner notes!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The Christmas Album - Super Deluxe!

    You will receive a signed physical copy of the album with your name in the thank you/liner notes, plus the digital download and unique studio photo, AND a Christmas ornament.

    This makes, you guessed it, a great Christmas gift!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The Christmas Album - Super Deluxe! (version 2)

    You will receive a signed copy of the album, your name in the thank you/liner notes, the digital download and unique studio photo, AND two dozen homemade Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    The Christmas Album - Super Deluxe! (Version 3)

    You will receive a signed copy of the album, your name in the thank you/liner notes, the digital download and unique studio photo, AND two dozen homemade decorated Christmas cookies!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A signed copy of the Christmas Album - Super Deluxe with your name in the thank you/liner notes, digital download, unique studio photo AND a Singing Telegram! I will call and serenade one person of your choice, on a mutually agreed upon time/occasion.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A signed copy of the Christmas Album - Super Deluxe with your name in the thank you/liner notes, digital download, unique studio photo, AND an Improvised Blues Tune, made up especially for you.

    You provide the inspiration (a word or idea), we'll create it and record it, then you'll receive a digital copy that's all yours!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A signed copy of the Christmas Album - Super Deluxe with your name in the thank you/liner notes, digital download, unique studio photo, plus a personalized blues tune, inspired by and made up especially for you.

    AND! A Singing Telegram IN PERSON- I will show up and serenade one person of your choice, on a mutually agreed upon time/occasion (provided they live within 50 miles of Cleveland).

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A house concert!

    I will provide a private musical performance for your friends and family at a location of your choosing, on a mutually agreed-upon evening. I will handle travel expenses if you live in or close to NEOhio.

    And, of course, the Christmas Album-Super Deluxe, your name in the thank you/liner notes, digital download, and unique studio photo. :)

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Funding period

- (28 days)