Monday, December 17, 2007

My Latest Discovery...Sara Lyn Baril

I love discovering things! Among the many courses I took in college I seriously looked into becoming a geologist, paleontologist, or an archeologist like my grandfather. Yet, after several classes in those fields, I found I really didn’t have a great mind for details. Try remembering 300 different fossilized shell species and not only naming them, but looking at them up close and personal and listing them for your final exam. So okay…I moved on after that geology class. None of the classes I ever took in college led me to where I am today in the music business, but they guided me―by default―to where my heart has its strongest yearnings…music. So now, after years of working the business as a songwriter, I’ve been blessed to come to know some of the great writers, artists, and musicians of the LDS music world. This past week I made a new…DISCOVERY!

What’s my great new discovery you ask? It’s Sara Lyn Baril (, the creator of the brand-new sacred recording album Thy Healing Hands. Before my interview with Sara, the only thing I knew about her was that she is a composer and songwriter; however, noting who produced her album (Greg Hansen with Sounds of Zion/Inspirational Music Showcase) and the incredible lineup of top-notch LDS artists on the album, I knew Sara had to be special. What a great new talent I’ve discovered this past week; and now I get to share a bit of her incredible story with you.

Sara’s new sacred recording album, Thy Healing Hands, is her first and the culmination of years of inspired composing and songwriting. Listening to the title soundtrack, “Thy Healing Hands,” sung by the beautiful voice of one of my favorite new LDS artists, Rebecca Lopez, one is truly brought to a place of peace and healing. The inspiration behind this particular song, and the album as a whole, comes from Sara’s deepest desire to help those who are suffering from whatever trials they are facing to find comfort and peace through the Savior.

As a fellow songwriter I was deeply moved by how Sara described her songwriting process. She said to me, “I try to put myself in Jesus’s shoes. What would He do to comfort people?” After writing each line of verse, Sara asks the Lord if it is right and quietly listens to the whisperings of the spirit: yes or no…change this or that. Can there be a better cowriter than the spirit? No, especially when it comes to sacred songs where the Lord works through His musical artists for His purposes.

I believe, in Sara’s case, the Lord has used her open and contrite heart by guiding her well-practiced composing and songwriting skills to touch the lives of many of His suffering children.
The title song, “Thy Healing Hands,” is sung every week in a small room in a Catholic church by a group of women taking part in post-abortion healing sessions. It has been a powerful help to the women of these sessions, for both the attendees and the counselors.

Years ago Sara was encouraged to send sheet music of her songs to Greg Hansen; however, she was a young mother and not feeling adequate enough to get the courage to―even after she talked to Greg himself, and he asked her to send her music for him to review. Eight years later and after more than 15 unsent, crumpled-up letters, she finally felt impressed that now was the time to submit her sheet music. As she put her letter and music in the mail she said a simple prayer, and her prayer was answered with a phone call three weeks later.

Unless you’ve sent a song demo to a publisher or producer and known rejection, you cannot truly appreciate just how amazing it is that the stars lined up for Sara, both in Greg Hansen’s total excitement in her work and the financial miracles that allowed for the album to be produced. As I spoke to Sara she confessed she’s still in awe over the whole thing and can’t believe how things have worked in her favor this past year to make this album come to fruition.
Greg Hansen and his team of amazing vocal artists and musicians have once again produced an album of gorgeous orchestration and peace. With the help of wonderful LDS inspirational artists like Tammy Simister Robinson, April Meservy, Barry Hansen, Dallyn Vail Bayles, and Sara Bethany Ham, your spirit will be lifted to a higher plane as you are reminded of the Savior’s love and filled with the peace of His spirit.

In the words of one of Sara’s fans, "Each song contains an inspiring and individual mini-sermon that reaches the very core of one's heart. The simple and beautiful melodies make these messages impossible to forget… a truly inspired work."―Naomi C., Alberta Canada

So take the time this week to hear sample songs for yourself from Sara Lyn Baril’s new album Thy Healing Hands at, and make your own new…DISCOVERY!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


By Julie Keyser

If there is one thing I am in this world…it’s passionate! I was born a strawberry blond, who ferociously holds onto what little red highlights I have left, for a reason. One of the things I’m most passionate about, besides my husband and family, is songwriting and all things musically inclined. My family would argue that they come in second behind songwriting as my passion…okay, so I am at times neglectful when lost in music stuff.

This passion lead me to become the Utah chapter head coordinator for NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), a nonprofit organization aimed at helping aspiring songwriters. I’ve been blessed through NSAI, and various other musical organizations, to get to know many amazing artists, musicians, and songwriters. Some, many of you are familiar with, but many…really most, you are not. And so, through, I’ll be bringing many of these amazing musical Mormons to light. And for those musical artists you are familiar with, hopefully you’ll gain more insight into who they are and what makes their music so appealing.

And so it is…with great pleasure, (drum roll please), that I introduce to you our first featured artist, singer-songwriter Gary McCallister.

A bit unknown to most outside of his home state of Colorado, but to those of us who know him, a wonderfully original musician, song writer, and oh…BTW…BISHOP! That could change anytime though because as long as I’ve known Gary he’s been a bishop.

Gary lovingly refers to himself as the “One-Man Mormon Blues Band,” as he is quite certain he is the only blues guy in the church. I doubt that… but I have yet to meet another one. His voice is deep and has a bit of a haunting feel to it, like a really deep version of Enya or Art Garfunkel...without all the vibrato.

He kindly sent me his newest CD called Mary Christmas (yes, he has others you’ve never known about and need to check out at I LOVE the title of this album because it is such a great play on words and gives you a clue into what you are about to hear. It’s really an album that needs to be listened to from beginning to end while reading the insert, which has a small storyline that goes along with each song. Each song is an original Gary wrote and composed. The story and music of course, have to do with the mother of Jesus…Mary.

The music is simplistic and has a folksy feel for a reason, with just a little bit of an avant-garde twist in the composition from time to time. While it could have easily been produced to a much grander and contemporary degree, Gary chose to keep it simple for the heart of what the songs have to say. Jesus’s family was simple, and he lived simply. Gary’s songs and accompanying music pay tribute to that. You won’t find in this album a bunch of Christmas chimes being used in the grandness of descending scales heralding the birth of our Lord, instead you’ll hear instruments you don’t hear very often any more…like the Mandolin, played beautifully by Gary himself. It is, in my mind, his signature instrument. Not the instrument of most blues guys, but the one I most associate with Gary.

So take a listen on Gary’s website of his song samples, especially his Mary Christmas. Gary can also be found on the LDS Outlet Block in the Music Studio, where you can order a new Christmas music tradition to add to your Christmas music collection just in time for this beautiful season, and…MERRY CHRISTMAS to all!