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I'm making a classic collection of Christmas songs called "Unto Us." Support this campaign & I'll donate my lullaby album to hospitals.
I'm making a classic collection of Christmas songs called "Unto Us." Support this campaign & I'll donate my lullaby album to hospitals.
2,089 backers pledged $81,071 to help bring this project to life.

About

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JJ Heller's FIRST Full-Length Christmas Album

$81,071

2,089

THE SHORT VERSION

Break out the hot chocolate and candy canes! I'm making a timeless & gorgeous Christmas album called "Unto Us," and I'd love for you to be a part of it! 

We passed my full album budget of $60,000!!! I would still love your support to help me promote this album. Every additional dollar you contribute will help me as with publicist fees, advertising and radio promotion. Thank you for your AMAZING support!

 ... AND in keeping with the tradition of giving that Old St. Nick started all those years ago ... I will donate a copy of my lullaby album, "I Dream of You," to a hospital for every $15 we raise in this campaign. To learn more about how my music is already being used in hospitals, please watch the video at the bottom of this page. 

Because of your support, over 4,000 "I Dream of You" CDs are headed to hospitals!!! 

This is what 2,000 lullaby CDs looks like! The stack has more than doubled because of your pledges!
This is what 2,000 lullaby CDs looks like! The stack has more than doubled because of your pledges!

 THE LONG VERSION

I'm amazed how just a few notes of a familiar tune can transport me back to wonderful scenes from my childhood, and fill me with nostalgia. 

Most of my favorite Christmas music has a timeless quality. Think of Bing Crosby's crooning voice on the soundtrack to the movie "White Christmas," or The Vince Guaraldi Trio's beautiful interpretations of the classics on "A Charlie Brown Christmas." My husband, Dave, loves the beautiful boys' choir and orchestral arrangements on Amy Grant's "Home For Christmas." It was a staple in his family's CD player during the holidays. We wanted to somehow capture a bit of that magic too. So this summer I've been working on what I hope will become one of your favorite Christmas albums. 

While researching other Christmas records, I noticed how I was repeatedly drawn to the familiar old classics, and how I'd frequently reach for the skip button when an artist's original song began to play. Because there's so much nostalgia surrounding Christmas, "Unto Us" is stuffed like a stocking full of songs that you already know and love! 

I asked my long-time friend, the incredibly talented Ben Shive to take the reigns on this project and drive this crazy Christmas sleigh. When Ben heard our vision for the album, he suggested we invite another friend of his to help too - the one and only Brown Bannister! I'm thrilled that Brown agreed to help make this album a reality since he's produced many amazing records over the course of his Grammy-studded career, one of them being Amy Grant's "Home For Christmas!" A Christmas coincidence? I think not!

Me with Brown Bannister and Ben Shive. I'm the one in the middle ;)
Me with Brown Bannister and Ben Shive. I'm the one in the middle ;)

My $30,000 goal for this campaign only covers half the budget for the record. If we reach it quickly, I'd love to keep going so we can cover the full cost of the album. Elf labor doesn't come cheap these days. Hopefully we can cover the cost of radio promotion, a publicist and music video production. There are also some additional rewards for backers too! 

STRETCH GOAL #1 • $40,000 (REACHED!!!) - Since we reached this goal, every SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE ($15) backer (and higher) will also receive a free digital download of my lullaby album, "I DREAM OF YOU." As long as we're donating a physical CD on your behalf, I thought you should enjoy the songs too! 

NEW STRETCH GOAL #2 • $45,000 (REACHED!!!) - If we reach this new goal, every DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? ($25) backer (and higher) will also receive a custom 5x7 paper print featuring the design from our wood plaque. 

Doesn't it look nice?
Doesn't it look nice?

STRETCH GOAL #3 • $60,000 (REACHED!!!) - If we reach the full budget of the album, all Kickstarter backers who contribute over $10 will receive alternate versions and acoustic demos of several songs from the album. This goal will also provide critical funding to help me pay for advertising, publicity and other radio promotion for the project.

NEW ADDITION TO STRETCH GOAL #3 (REACHED!!!) - All $25+ backers will have their name printed in the album credits.

STRETCH GOAL #4 • $80,000 - I'll hire a video crew to record performances of four of the songs on the album. I'll make 30-second previews of all the songs on the album, and Kickstarter backers will vote on which songs are filmed. Backers will also be the first to see the footage before it is posted to social media.

STRETCH GOAL #5 • $100,000 - I'll make an official music video for the most playful song on the album. It's called, "Oh, To See Christmas," and it's super catchy! Kickstarter backers will be the first to see the footage too!

STRETCH GOAL #6 • $120,000 - Here's a reason to be jolly! I'll hire a full band and we'll live-stream a Christmas concert to your living-room this December. 

In addition to all the new music I've been cooking up, I also prepared some lovely Christmas-inspired rewards for your generous support. 

Some of the rewards include ... 

• GET THE NEW ALBUM, "UNTO US," BEFORE ANYONE ELSE! The album artwork hasn't been designed yet, but I promise it will look as lovely as it sounds.

• CUSTOM-DESIGNED LASER-ENGRAVED ORNAMENT WITH ORIGINAL LYRICS. 

Size: 4"x4" and 3mm thick
Size: 4"x4" and 3mm thick

• BEAUTIFUL LASER-ENGRAVED, HAND-PAINTED (not by me) WALNUT PLAQUE.

Size: 8"x8" and .75" thick. I already have one on display in my living room. I LOVE IT!
Size: 8"x8" and .75" thick. I already have one on display in my living room. I LOVE IT!

 

Lyrics: Wonderful Counselor • More Perfect Than We Could Dream • Bringer Of All Good Things
Lyrics: Wonderful Counselor • More Perfect Than We Could Dream • Bringer Of All Good Things

• HAND-COLORED (by me) CHRISTMAS POSTCARDS.

I colored these cards in the studio during the making of the album. It was hard work, but so worth it!
I colored these cards in the studio during the making of the album. It was hard work, but so worth it!

• VIP CONCERT TICKETS AND HANG TIME WITH ME.

• COFFEE (OR HOT CHOCOLATE) WITH ME.

I took this photo myself, and I'm very proud of it :)
I took this photo myself, and I'm very proud of it :)

• YOUR VERY OWN CONCERT FOR YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY. 

I haven't done a Kickstarter campaign for any of my music before, so you probably have a few questions for me. Let me try to anticipate a few of them with some answers.

Why are you doing a Kickstarter for this project? This campaign is your opportunity to pre-order and support this effort. With the rise of streaming services and the decrease in album sales, we're turning to fans like you to invest in projects you believe in. Also, while most albums can be sold all year long, Christmas albums are only sold for one month each year. We would love to manufacture the correct amount of CDs to meet the demand for this album - our garage is already full of several thousand copies of my other CDs! 

WHY $30,000, AND WHERE WILL MY MONEY GO? The current goal is actually less than half of the final cost of the album. We'd love to exceed our goal and raise our entire budget (approximately $70,000 since Kickstarter/Payment-processing takes 9% of funds raised) so we can not just cover all the costs involved in making the record, but also let the WORLD know about it. That means paying radio promoters, publicists, and advertising on social media. 

My husband is a conservative man, and since we don't get anything if we fail to meet our goal, he talked me into keeping the initial goal low. However, if we quickly (or not-so-quickly) hit the $30,000 mark, please DON'T STOP SPREADING THE WORD! A lot of the success of this campaign depends on your help.

The majority of the funds will go directly toward the production of the album. In addition to paying Brown and Ben, we used FIVE different studios, paid multiple studio engineers, a mixing engineer, a mastering engineer, session players (a drummer, two bass players, and an electric guitarist), a trumpet player, a youth choir, and an 8-piece string section. Here's the way the budget breaks down:

Yes, this pie chart was designed to look somewhat like a candy cane.
Yes, this pie chart was designed to look somewhat like a candy cane.

It's always really hard for me to ask people for things. Most of the time, I'd prefer to keep my dreams small so I don't have to experience any disappointment (like a cotton-headed ninny muggins), but I believe in this album so much that I'm willing to push through my discomfort. Christmas is worth celebrating, and this record does just that. We're doing our best to fill these songs with beauty, magic and wonder, and I can't wait for you to hear it! 

It'd mean the world to me if YOU chose to support the making of this record because you believe in it too. I would love for this album to make its way into the homes of thousands of families, and one of the best ways to make that happen is to join forces with people like YOU!

I'm so thankful for you, and that you're willing to consider investing in me and my campaign. It would be a dream come true for me if these songs become a part of your Christmas traditions for years to come.

Merry Christmas (in the middle of the summer)!

*jj

P.S. Don't forget for every $15 we raise in this campaign I will donate a copy of my lullaby album, "I Dream of You," to a hospital! If we raise $100,000 together, over 6,500 families will be comforted by the album during a very stressful time in their life. The video (below) documents my recent visit to a children's hospital in Nashville to donate some CDs to patients and families: 

Please read these testimonials from a music therapist and fans (like you). I love hearing how "I Dream of You" is making such a difference in hospitals and homes across the country! Feel free to share your story with me at contact@jjheller.com

One little boy who was recovering from a major surgery was needing non-stimulating soothing [music] to help keep him still so his pain wouldn’t increase. I put the CD on and it was truly the only thing that calmed him while his mother had to step out.

Caroline Love, CCLS • Certified Child Life Specialist • The Children's Hospital at Tristar Centennial

NOTES FROM LISTENERS

• My son is 2.5 years old [and has a] Sensory Processing disorder. The only thing that makes him happy when he's having a bad day is your [JJ's] voice. He loves your "I Dream of You" CD and we take it everywhere.

• My 6 month old, Samuel, struggles to fall asleep and fights it as much as possible until I put on his sound machine and press play on your album. Within seconds, he is sound asleep and sleeps peacefully while he hears your soothing voice. This album, in particular, is so sweet and brings me to tears when I allow myself to really engage with your lyrics. Every word is my mama's heart that I just can't seem to find the words to adequately express. 

• Love this CD. My son has it in his CD player and it plays all night every night. My son was born with a heart defect and has had three open heart surgeries. While in the hospital after the first surgery we discovered music was the only thing that would lower his heart rate and blood pressure.

Risks and challenges

We've made several albums in the past, and have a pretty decent handle on how this thing goes. We don't anticipate any difficulty in getting these songs to you in time to share them with those you love this Christmas season.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    A MERRY little CHRISTMAS

    My gratitude and an air high five for being a WONDERFUL supporter of this project. Even the largest Christmas tree gets decorated one ornament at a time :)

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    Pledge US$ 2 or more About US$ 2.00

    THE little DRUMMER BOY

    A digital download of an original song from the album called “Christmas Is Here.” I think it's really good, but I may be a bit biased since wrote it. Jason Gray likes it too, but he also helped me write it.

    We’re currently recording, so I’ll send a download link your way once the album is finished.

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    TEN LORDS A-LEAPING

    Download the album and a PDF of the artwork two weeks before everyone else. Impress all your reindeer friends!

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    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE

    Download the album and a PDF of the artwork two weeks before everyone else and I'LL ALSO DONATE AN "I DREAM OF YOU" CD to a hospital.

    Thank you for spreading Christmas cheer!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

    An autographed physical CD delivered to your mailbox by a card-carrying member of the United States Postal Service (Santa not available at this time).

    Also includes SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE reward tier.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    WE THREE KINGS

    Gold, frankincense and myrrh are on backorder. Instead, you'll get three autographed CDs of "Unto Us" for your gift-giving pleasure.

    Also includes DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? reward tier for you!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    FRIENDS ARE CALLING, "YOO HOO!"

    I'll record a short personalized video wishing you (or the person of your choice) a very Merry Christmas. Just provide a valid email address, and it'll be waiting for you in your inbox. It's like a virtual sleigh ride together with you :)

    Also includes WE THREE KINGS reward tier.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    DECK THE HALLS

    I'll autograph a beautiful custom-designed, laser-engraved Christmas ornament (now everyone is going to want one). Our good friends at Hand Lettering Co did an amazing job making these.

    Also includes FRIENDS ARE CALLING "YOO HOO" reward tier.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    FIVE GOLDEN RINGS

    Here's a question: What's better than jewelry?
    Answer: Five (5) total autographed copies of "Unto Us" of course! Put them in your friends' stockings this season.

    Also includes DECK THE HALLS reward tier.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    OH CHRISTMAS TREE

    These leaves are never changing! This reward features a laser-engraved, hand-painted (not by me) walnut plaque with song lyrics from the title track. Plaque is 10 x 10 inches, and would look perfect in your house. Trust me.

    Also includes FIVE GOLDEN RINGS reward tier.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    I'M DREAMING OF A COLOR CHRISTMAS

    White is out and color is in!

    You'll receive a beautiful Christmas postcard that I personally hand-colored (with fancy pens) in the studio while making the record. I did my best to stay in the lines, and I chose only the good colors :)

    Also includes OH CHRISTMAS TREE reward tier.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME ...

    VIP tickets for you (and up to 4 friends). Hang out with me backstage before a concert when I'm coming through your area (you take care of your own travel plans/costs). Get autographs, take photos, drink some hot chocolate, and eat fruitcake (except don't really eat the fruit cake).

    Just email to let us know which show you want to attend (through 12/31/17), and we’ll take care of the tickets.

    Also includes I'M DREAMING OF A COLOR CHRISTMAS reward tier.

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    Pledge US$ 1,500 or more About US$ 1,500

    PASS AROUND THE COFFEE & THE PUMPKIN PIE

    Join my husband, Dave, and me for coffee or (hot chocolate) if you're ever in Nashville, or if I'm in your neck of the woods. Our treat!

    We'll spend an hour talking music, pastries, and who's your favorite reindeer.
    (Redeem before December 31, 2017)

    Also includes THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME ... reward tier.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN ...

    ... and he's a JJ Heller fan.

    My Entire 10 CD Catalogue!

    For you collectors out there, we’ve saved a couple copies of each of my CDs (going all the way back to 2006). We’ll leave all the albums in shrink wrap so you can keep them in mint condition if you wish, but I'm also happy to sign them. Just let me know :)

    Includes: Only Love Remains (2006), The Pretty & the Plain (2007), Wake Up The World - Christmas EP (2007), Painted Red (2008), When I’m With You (2010), Deeper (2011), LOVED (2013), I Dream of You (2014), Sound of a Living Heart (2015), Unto Us (2016).

    Also includes THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME reward tier.

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    Pledge $4,000 or more About $4,000

    ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

    
Now we’re talking! This is way better than two measly front teeth :)

    If you are among the five special Kickstarter supporters at this tier, you'll receive personal updates from me via email.

    You'll also receive demos and alternate versions of songs (this includes versions no one else will get to hear), see album artwork concepts and photos, get a page of handwritten lyrics (torn from my songwriting notebook).

    If you’re ever in Nashville, TN, or if I'm in your area, my husband, Dave, and I will visit with you at a local coffee shop. Don't worry, we'll buy your coffee. You’ve done enough for us!

    Also includes THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME reward tier.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

    You just sealed the deal. You're totally on
    "The Nice List."

    I'll play a concert for your family/community (anywhere in the continental US) as long as my schedule permits. I’ll bring my husband and another talented musician to play a concert in your home, church, or other appropriate music venue (we’ll agree on the location in advance).

    This pledge amount includes all travel and lodging. Feel free to team up with your community to make this happen!

    This event can take place as early as December 2016, and the offer is good through the end of 2017.

    Also includes ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS reward tier.

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Funding period

- (30 days)