In December of 2013, producer Billy Smiley contacted me asking if I would be interested in recording with him. At that time, I didn't pay much attention because I thought it was not financially possible for me to record new music right now. But, after listening to some of his musical ideas, I began to dream about making a new Christmas CD. (its been ten years since Christmas Presence came into being!) I also had a deep desire to record some original worship songs...something I had never explored. So, I dreamed and prayed and asked, and by February, I was beginning to see a vision and a way to make it happen! Somehow, I had peace that God had made the connection with this producer for a reason, and that He would provide the necessary funds for me to fulfill this vision.
And so THE SOUND OF HEAVEN PROJECT was born. A worship CD and a Christmas CD would allow the 'sound of heaven' to be accessible to both the Christian and the secular music world. What a wonderful opportunity to reach hearts with the sound of God's love! Recording two CD's instead of one also made great business sense. Once musicians are hired, it is easy to add a few songs and keep costs reasonable. For me, that means more music that I can make and more product that I can eventually sell to help fund my ministry.
Those who know me know that my heart is not to make money or be famous. Music is one way God communicates His love to the world through me. My mission statement is to 'bring the sound of heaven to earth', and right now it burns in my heart to sing as much as I can, for as long as I can, to reach as many people as possible!
Over the past month, I have spent about two weeks in Nashville, writing, singing, and laughing for joy as I watch this project take shape! The sound is new...all acoustic with great live players adding their unique artistry to my ideas. The people God has connected me with are incredible!!
Billy Smiley, producer: As a founding member and producer of White Heart, Billy Smiley has also helped A&R, discover, develop, produce, and write for such artists as The Newsboys, Steven Curtis Chapman, Susan Ashton, The Normals, Aaron Shust, Margaret Becker, Clay Aikens, Johnny Cash, Petra, BeBe & CeCe Winans, Geoff Moore & the Distance, Rachel Rachel, The Gaither Vocal Band, 4 Him, and Michael English. As a songwriter for Curb, EMI, BMG, Warner/Word, Brentwood/Benson he has co-written 25 no. 1 songs, and over 50 top 10 songs. He has produced more than 100 albums, and 30 No. 1 songs. He received 5 Grammy Nominations, one producing the Grammy nominated song “Silent Night”, recorded by BeBe & CeCe Winans, and co-produced with Dann Huff the Grammy nominated album, “WhiteHeart”. His production credits also include the Grammy nominated album “Tales of Wonder”. White Heart went on to tour worldwide through 1998, selling over 2.5 million records, with 17 no. 1 singles, and 23 Dove nominations. His formal training includes a bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and Composition from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California.
The most amazing surprise so far has been Phil Keaggy's involvement in the project. Two weeks ago, I had an idea in the middle of the night...in my mind I heard myself singing the song "Do You Hear What I Hear" with Phil Keaggy's incredible guitar playing surrounding my voice. I recorded the idea for the arrangement and sent it to Billy never dreaming that just a few days later the real PHIL KEAGGY would be playing my arrangement, and I would actually hear what I thought I heard!!!!! So the song 'Do You Hear What I Hear' now has a whole new meaning for me! Many people consider Phil to be the greatest living guitarist, and I am so privileged to have him create some music just for me! I can't share it with you quite yet....but it is AMAZING!!
Next in the line up is drummer Steve Brewster.
What a blessing to meet Steve! Steve has recorded with artists including Bob Seger, Jewel, Deirks Bentley, Chicago, Michael W. Smith, Faith HIll, Sara Groves, Amy Grant, and Richard Marx. I loved Steve's heart for the Lord and his energy and humor!!
Matt Pierson is my bass player. What a great guy! He made me feel right at home and didn't even make fun of my 'cheesy demos'! I was honored to have this outstanding musician (and horse person) on the team!
Billy insists I play my own keyboard parts, but when I need help, we call on Sal Oliveri and Blair Masters who both have credits too long to list. (google them!) They are amazing. Love their creativity and artistry!!
Ken Lewis is blowing me away with his skill on percussion. What an honor to meet him and listen to him create! His credits are extensive, but my daughters were most excited to find out that he played percussion for The Civil Wars! When they found that out, nothing else mattered!
Some of the songs require a more sensitive acoustic sound, so we called on acoustic bass player Byron House to help us out! Amazing artist and lots of fun!
There will be more musicians added to the mix, including some Irish instruments and Jean's violin!! More pics will follow as the project grows.
We should be finished with the recording process by the end of April. Then it will be time for editing, mixing, and the actual printing of the CD's. Expected release date of the Christmas CD is October 2014. The worship CD will be released sometime after Christmas.
Music is such a powerful vehicle to touch hearts, heal hearts, and change hearts. I am honored to be able to use that vehicle to communicate God's love. I hope that sharing in this musical venture with me will bless you in some way. You get to be part of the miracle!
Risks and challenges
The greatest challenge for me in creating this project is simply financial. Whatever I have to pay towards the cost of production, manufacture, artwork, photography, travel, etc, etc, simply puts a burden on the ministry which provides the bulk of my income. I desire to be in a place where I am not hindered by any debt and can give away as much of my ministry proceeds as possible!
The total cost of 'The Sound of Heaven Project' is projected at approximately $40,000 which includes all expenses from start to finish. Kickstarter is a great way to raise funds for projects like this, but if I don't raise the whole $14,000 that I am asking for to help me, I get nothing! Kickstarter will help me meet as many of those expenses as possible so I can focus on MINISTRY, not money! :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (23 days)