Saturday, December 13, 2008

Daniel Beck: King of Song

A few years ago I bought my first Liken the Scriptures DVD,, Ammon and Lamoni about Ammon’s mission to the Lamanites. I was surprised how entertaining these somewhat campy little musicals were that my kids absolutely LOVE, but mostly I was impressed with the high quality music, lyrics, and vocal production . . . especially the voice of the man playing King Lamoni…Daniel Beck At once his voice stood out in its beauty and pure tone and, like so many other listeners, I couldn’t help but compare Daniel’s voice to Josh Groban’s.

While Dan, as he’s known by, sings slightly higher than Josh, there is no mistaking that his voice is just as fabulous. In an earlier article I wrote about Jessie Clark Funk’s latest album, Everything Speaks His Name found at, I mentioned her duet with Daniel Beck singing David Foster’s The Prayer being “magnificent”. Having just attended Dan’s first concert for his breakout album Love Like That, where he sang The Prayer with Jenny Jordan Frogley, INCREDIBLE is all that is left in my vocabulary. Jessie Clark Funk had her baby the day before Dan’s concert, so Jenny was asked to do the duet with Dan. She was an awesome matchup with Dan making their duet absolutely electrifying especially when Dan broke into Italian. Few people can sing Italian as gorgeously…Josh Groban and Andrea Boticelli come to mind…and yes I dare put Dan Beck in league with them. We are so blessed in the LDS music world to claim Dan as one of our own and hopefully the world will soon get to know him as we have.

I absolutely recommend a visit to Dan’s website, where you can read Dan’s musical biography and hear samplings in the music section of some of his best recordings from past projects; like “You Raise Me Up”, found on the 2007 EFY CD POWER IN PURITY, I Used to be Like You from Liken the Scriptures DVD David and Goliath where of course he is playing King Saul, and his beautiful duet of The Prayer with Jessie Clark Funk on Jessie’s latest album Everything Speaks His Name.

So what does Dan’s future hold? Well I asked him that recently.

Dan I thoroughly enjoyed your first concert promoting your breakout album Love Like That. What can we expect from you in the future as far as performances and will we possibly be hearing from you in future Liken the Scriptures productions?

I’ve just booked guest spots on “American Idol,” and “Dancing with the Stars,” gigs on the AMA’s, Grammys, and we’re filming my PBS special next week. Nah, just kidding, but we can dream can’t we? More realistically, in the coming months I hope to be able to do more concerts locally as well as in many other states to introduce people to the music on this album. There will be an even bigger marketing push for the album for Valentine’s day being an album of love songs and all. Jessie Clark Funk and I are currently working on a big Valentine variety show that we’ll be doing at the Rose Wagner Theater (that place is becoming my second home) on Valentine’s day. I sure have loved working with the good friends at Liken the Scriptures and they’ve just announced auditions for their production of “Jonah and the Great Fish” that will be filming next year. I’m planning on auditioning so I don’t know yet if I’ll be involved or not, but even if I’m not cast, hopefully they’ll give me a job as a page or something like that just so I can be a part of it again.

I was impressed with your loving expressions for your family. How do you go about balancing the need to be husband and father as well as entertainer?

Well, the family is definitely first and tops for me so there’s not a huge contest here. I think of it more as a dad who happens to be a singer/performer as well. My family is such a huge part of who I am, so when I’m performing, I just try to be real and who I really am, and when I’m doing so, they are there with me. That definitely makes it easier to just be dad and a real person both while performing and when the show is over. After the show it’s back to life I love so much as a husband and father and really couldn’t be more ordinary and that’s the way it has to be, for me. There is a bit of a balancing act when it comes to still working full time at a day job and performing on the side. I still have to make sure that the family has the time that we need to be together and to just be, and that it’s not crowded out by shows or concerts and the like.

However great Daniel Beck’s voice is, without doubt his greatest asset is his family and his devotion to them. Throughout his concert he mentioned his family many times; especially his wife who you could tell was the real sparkle behind Dan’s eyes. I found Dan charming and approachable as an artist who cares about his audience and enjoys engaging them in his concert. We all had a great laugh, including Dan, when he completely forgot the opening lyrics to one of his songs. He finally got it on his third try and you could just see him doing all he could to contain his laughter as he sang the rest of the song without a hitch. Truly a fun and funny entertainer, and of course FABULOUS singer, so I highly recommend attending one of his concerts in the future, and don’t forget to buy your copy of Love Like That.

© Julie Keyser

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Lawyer with Soul

Sometimes I just love this little job of mine. I go through a myriad of new and known LDS Music artists on the LDS Jukebox listing, (many of whom I know already but so many I have yet to meet), and decide who I’m going to interview next.

Having recently returned from Hawaii I was trying to get my bearings back when I found my first “Friend” request on the LDS neighborhood sponsored site I recently joined called Neighborhood and Friends. As I clicked on “Accept” Jay Young, Jay’s fabulous voice began singing gospel favorite, The Way He Came written by Mark Harris, in the background. The song is just one of ten featured on Jay’s debut solo album One More Stone which came out in 2008 to rave reviews.

So it was, in that moment of sweet memories of my Hawaiian musical paradise I had recently left, that I was suddenly taken to gospel glory (kind of like a City of Enoch experience but more down to earth), and knew who I had to interview next…my new music friend in the “Neighborhood” Jay Young.

Reading the numerous articles and bio on Jay’s website at I learned a lot about my new music friend.

#1 While Jay is a successful lawyer and partner with Marquis and Aurbach law firm out of Las Vegas, Nevada, at his core he’s really a gospel singer. Although he’s only had about six months of formal vocal training and doesn’t read music, he is a featured soloist in Sister Gladys Knight’s Grammy winning choir Saints Unified Voices…the ultimate SUV of gospel music!

#2 His wife has an awesome name…Julie of course, making this amazing musical duo (Julie is an accomplished pianist and also a member of the SUV choir) one of the coolest music pairs born of the 60’s.

#3 Jay and Julie (that has such a lyrical ring to it) have four children about the same ages as my own, and

#4, This to me is the most amazing of all, Jay had so many ear infections as a child that he suffered about 60% hearing loss in his left ear and a less profound loss in his right ear… yet he sings… beautifully!

His story reminds me in part of another great singer I met a couple of years back at a songwriter’s workshop I had put together. This young man suffered a vocal paralysis soon after winning a major TV network talent show yet went on a few years later (this past season in fact) to come in second place on American Idol…that would be David Archuleta…in case you hadn’t heard of him. Which leaves me to beg the question?

“If these two men can sing so incredibly despite the difficult physical challenges that would normally set back a music career…why can’t I sing that well?”

Okay, this article really isn’t about me whining again about my lack of vocal talent…well sort of it isn’t…but not really…now back to Jay.

So what can I say beyond “I’ve become a BIG fan of Jay Young’s gospel music”, other than encourage you to go to and learn for yourself what makes Jay’s voice and debut album “One More Stone” so full of the gospel! Okay, beyond that, maybe just have Jay himself answer a couple of questions that might not have come his way before.

Jay your story is so inspirational and amazing on so many levels, from being partially deaf and not a professionally trained vocalist, to becoming a featured soloist in the most amazing Gospel Choir lead by numerous Grammy award winning artist herself, legendary Gladys Knight. Looking back on your unexpected musical career how do you feel the Lord has blessed you, and helps you keep your life (particularly your family life) balanced, despite the tremendous sacrifice of being a member of the choir and a lawyer?

My single greatest asset in this life is my wife. She IS my balance; whenever one aspect of my life overburdens the rest, whether it is work, church service, or music, she knows how to pull me back and make me look at things in a way that I want to make those little adjustments we all seem to need from time to time. She is the one who has always encouraged me to make music more a part of my service to God. I have always felt the love of the Lord and feel blessed that I can express that love through music. It is such a joyful medium that has the capacity to touch a heart in ways that a spoken sermon or written word cannot. I have always expressed my emotions – good and bad – through song. It gives me joy when others tell me that one of my songs helped them through their day, helped them deal with troubled times, or allowed them to rejoice in God’s goodness.

Is there any special missionary moment or event you would like to share in regards to music?

The Saints Unified Voices choir is a missionary choir. Bringing souls to Christ through music and testimony is our sole purpose. My favorite memory of using music as a missionary tool is from some presentations in the Atlanta, GA area in 2005. We happened to be performing in a stake where I served as a young missionary in the 80s. Just a few short years removed from the revelation on the priesthood, missionaries struggled mightily in efforts to teach and retain our African American brothers and sisters. Sometimes, we struggled even more getting the existing members to accept these new converts and wondered at whether the early saints gave similar resistance to Peter’s revelation allowing the word to be taught to gentiles.

I remember rejoicing as I walked onto the stage to see the congregation filled with as many dark as light skinned faces. I was overcome with emotion, though, as we sang a particular song where choir members one by one stand to show their unity in the gospel message. As we stood, one by one, members of the audience stood with us until all present were on their feet showing a unity in our faith in the same God. I had only dreamed as a young missionary of a day when an LDS church in Atlanta would be filled with people of different color in harmony. I remarked to the Mission President that night that I thought we were part of something that made a bigger difference in two nights than I did as a missionary in two years. He corrected me and said that it made more of a difference in two nights than his entire mission hoped to make in two years. We have since heard of hundreds of baptisms resulting from those firesides where neighbors introduced friends to the Spirit of God. I love being able to do missionary work with the musical gifts God has given me.

© Julie Keyser

Return to the Neighborhood.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sara Bethany Ham - Wanna be Brave

Is the only good uplifting LDS music available found on Sunday radio programs? Is there anything out there with a good beat that isn’t preachy? ABSOLUTELY and you’ll find a ton of it featured on The Neighborhood Jukebox.

One of the great new artists featured on the site is Sara Bethany Ham, and you can catch her awesome new song, Awake, off her debut album, Wanna Be Brave, in the pop/rock/alt section of the neighborhood jukebox.

Greg Hansen sent me an e-mail a while back introducing me to his first artist, Sara Bethany Ham, with his new label “Eagle Springs Records”. I was really excited about her sound and voice.

An excerpt from Sara’s website bio, gives us this bit of background:

Even though Sara has been singing her entire life, she discovered her love for music at the age of 14 when she joined a mixed choir as a freshman in high school.

After graduation in 2004, Sara attended an enjoyable first year of college at BYU-Idaho…Late in her first semester, her mom, who says she is Sara’s biggest fan, called from Southern California and told her about a vocal competition to record on Jenny Phillips’ 2006 Young Women’s album in Utah. Sara flew to Salt Lake City and competed with 130 girls for the chance to record “I Call Your Name” on Jenny’s Arise and Shine Forth album. Sara won the competition, was chosen to record the song and felt very honored to have her picture put on the cover of the CD. Sara was then invited to join the prestigious Jenny Phillips’ fireside Group and it was here that she realized she had found the right path.

Wanna Be Brave” is an upbeat and truly contemporary album with songs full of energy and positive messages teens will love. And that is just who Sara is trying to reach…teens.
As Sara told me “The reason I made the album…when I’m performing, for the youth especially, the main point I want to bring out is the youth can be who they are and still be cool. The youth don’t have to lower their standards to fit in.”

And she should know, barely past her teen years herself, Sara survived those crazy confusing times strong in faith and determined to help other youth stay on a positive course. “Wanna Be Brave”, the title song of her new album, is all about being brave enough to be true to the faith in this world of temptation. And Sara has made it her life’s mission to inspire the youth of today to reach higher and “Be Brave”.

While her first album is a major accomplishment she is even excited and proud of her upcoming wedding to fiancé Kimball Mack. They first met during a High school choir festival in Las Vegas then met again at BYU after Kimball’s mission. Best of all…he sings too! I have a feeling that music will be playing a great roll in their life together and hopefully continue to bless the lives of others.

So do yourself a favor and check out Sara Bethany Ham at The Neighborhood Jukebox or at and find out for yourself what great contemporary LDS music is all about.

Till I write again,
Julie Keyser

Return to the Neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hilary Weeks Workshop with NSAI

Have you ever juggled your aspiring music career with the pulls of your family? Ever said to your spouse “Honey if I can just get this one song to be picked up by an artist it will be worth the cost of the demo.” Or “If I can just perform out enough I can build a fan base” and yet in the process feel torn by the needs of your family and the restraints of your budget? HELLO…you are not alone.

So when the idea was presented to me to have Hilary Weeks give a workshop for the Utah chapter of NSAI, (Nashville Songwriter’s Association International of which I recently stepped down as head coordinator), I thought great! But I wanted her to present something that was unique for the group. My co-coordinator, Cami Morrison, came up with the perfect thought. How to balance your music career with your family life.

Who better than Hilary Weeks? Hilary has a family of her own, travels year round to concerts and speaking engagements, and is very popular with Deseret Book’s “Time Out for Women” events. Just take a look at her schedule on her website at and see for yourself.

Is her life a bit hectic? Yes…but she has a wealth of information to share about how she manages her own journey in the crazy business of music. This is a unique opportunity for those of you seriously looking into a songwriting/music career or who are trying to make it right now in the business and feel that constant tug and pull between family and finance like I do. After Hilary’s presentation we will allow our NSAI members, along with a few non-NSAI members, to have a short group evaluation of a song. Hilary will be participating in the song evaluations.

Refreshments will follow.

Hilary is a much sought out speaker and performer and she has offered our NSAI group, since we are a not-for-profit organization, a special rate so we are able to offer an incredible intimate evening with her for only $15.00 for NSAI members and $20.00 for non-NSAI members on Wednesday October 8th from 7:30-10:00 pm. The location is the Piano Gallery at 650 S. State St. in Orem. Please e-mail me, Julie Keyser, at if you would like to attend.

Over the last few years the Utah chapter of NSAI (Nashville Songwriter’s Association International) has been privileged to host some of the best songwriters in the country, several of whom live right here in Utah.

NSAI is committed to helping aspiring and independent songwriters craft songs which are commercially marketable and give them the tools to move forward with their music careers. NSAI does this by offering monthly workshops; through it’s over 100 chapters worldwide, where songwriters come together for one hour lessons, developed by any one of NSAI’s pro-songwriters, followed by an hour of individual song evaluations lead by a trained coordinator.

So if songwriting is in your blood, as it is mine and thousands like me, do yourself a favor and check out NSAI and see what we can do for you.

Until next time,
Julie Keyser

Julie Keyser ©Sept. 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Jennifer Griffiths: Inspiring others with “A Song and a Prayer”

Just the other day I received this invitation from my good friend Jen Griffiths via e-mail:
"I share my music with people online again, but with a little different approach than I did last time. So, Jen Griffiths Music is officially online! My site has a free weekly 5-10 minute podcast called "A Song and A Prayer." Each podcast has an inspirational message followed by an original song. Let me know what you think!"
So...I checked it out, like any good friend would, not realizing what a difference it would make in my life by just listening for a few minutes. But before I go into what a difference it made for me that day let me get you caught up on Jen Griffiths the person, the singer/songwriter extraordinaire...the friend.

I first met Jen through the website. She was looking for a co-writer and I answered the call. We found out afterwards that we lived less than ten minutes away from each other. Our first co-write attempt was the song "Tempted" found at the pop/rock/alt section and while it turned out to be a great song, and has had a few labels and artists seriously consider it, it hasn't gone farther than the demo stage at this point...however, the best thing that came out of that first co-writing experience together was a lifelong friendship.

In time we became part of a foursome of singer/songwriting women that included Jen, myself, Lindy Kerby and Stacilee Whiting. We performed our original inspirational music at Relief Society Enrichment Night gatherings and even the state prison. Our theme was always the same: "Don’t be so hard on yourself for not being perfect. The Lord loves you and we are all human and make mistakes." We gave this message in our own inspirational and somewhat corny way but hearts were always touched.

Jen always sang one song in particular called "Forgive Yourself" that really addressed the theme of our musical mission as a group. It's a light pop song with a deep message. In our first performances I would play backup on my guitar to her keyboarding while she sang the song. We felt like such our own highly toned down Mormon Mom sort of way. But only this past weekend did that song effect me at the level it was truly intended.

When I got Jen's request to check out her site I was dealing with some personal issues and feelings of discouragement. As I listened to Jen's story and prayer that went along with her song "Forgive Yourself" I started to feel the Spirit and then as the song played I became deeply touched by the words...
"She'd been told she was beautiful, but each time she looked in the mirror she saw a thousand flaws appear. It's an age-old story of which we've become a part by expecting perfection from all we are."
Then the chorus hit me hard
"Every tree has hidden scars. Every sky can turn gray, but the bird still loves the old oak's branches and we still pray for rain. If we can look beyond life's imperfections then why not our own...forgive yourself your human."
I couldn't get through the song without the floodgates of my tear ducts opening up...thank heavens I was by myself.

Well okay, my writing of the words does this song no justice at all, so do yourself a favor go to Jen's website at and discover for yourself the powerful healing effect of Jen's beautiful pop vocals blended with her incredibly inspirational lyrics. The website isn't perfected yet so be patient with the downloads cause it's definitely worth the wait.

And now, so you can get to know this great musical talent, Jen Griffiths, better I've included her bio from off of her website and asked her to answer a few questions for me as well.

Jen Griffiths is a singer-songwriter, originally from Northern California, and has been writing music for almost 20 years. Jen has performed her original music in numerous venues and has been mentored as a writer by some amazing music industry pros. She currently resides in Utah County with her husband and three children.

What was the underlying inspiration behind your new website theme of a "Prayer and a Song"?

Well, that's exactly what it was--inspiration! The idea for the podcasts and the title "A Song & A Prayer" just came to me all at once. When you get those kinds of ideas (that are whole and complete) you know they are not something that originated with you, but rather from a Greater Source. I had all these songs that I had written and all these experiences that I could share with other people and I knew I needed to do it, so I acted on that inspiration.

What do you hope to accomplish in the hearts of your listeners?

My greatest hope for my listeners is that they will feel a renewal of hope, an uplifting of spirit, and a measure of peace when they hear the messages--that they will reconnect with the Source of all strength and joy, which is God.

Where does your inspiration for each song you write come from?

I find inspiration everywhere--life, people's, trials, celebrations, phrases I hear people speak, stories--everything has the potential to become a song topic!

Will you be performing again anytime soon so we can hear your terrific music live?

On the FAQ page of my website I answer the question "Are you available for presentations?" The answer is yes. The page gives more specifics on how to go about that, but interested parties should email me at to check availability.

Until next time,
Julie Keyser
© By Julie Keyser

Return to the Neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LDS Musicians Festival 2008

Getting our peculiar groove on.

As I write this I’m recovering from six months of planning, organizing, and near stomach ulcers from helping put together this year’s LDS Musicians Festival for 2008 sponsored in part by and and several other great sponsors.

Our group, of die-hard internet musician friends at, has been together and growing since 1999 when folk singer and founder Brad Thompson first put out a call to the World Wide Web in search of other LDS Musicians. The first to answer the call was LDS hard rocker Mark Hansen. Since 2000 there has been a yearly gathering of some of our members to share music amongst ourselves and the community almost every year.

This year, with the help of and many other great sponsors like, a few of my favorite online music friends were able to meet face to face and share an inspiring weekend of music at the Springville Arts Park and at Showtime Utah,, in Pleasant Grove Utah. Everything from rap to soft Sunday sounds was heard as we came together for our annual fest. Most arrived in spirit though since our members, nearly five-hundred, are spread around the world via the internet and getting to Utah to attend is expensive.

Friday night was dedicated to the youth, a first for our group, and while the numbers were small (note…text messaging among teens is the best advertising…try it next year) we showed the teens of the Springville community that came that you can rock hard, like Mark Hansen, with positive songs or dance to great beats and clean lyrics with the help of DJ Shawn Phillips of Movin’ fm 100.7 in Utah and hip-hop artist Arythmatik from Arizona.

Arythmatik is a Mormon hiphop/rapper who focuses on positive and clean living messages for the youth with his very urban sound. My teenage son and nephew totally loved his style and had a great time when he performed, especially when he had my nephew get on stage to show off his break dancing skills.

My nephew also loved break dancing on stage with Alex Boye Saturday night at the end of our headliner concert featuring the great folk/jazz/singer/musician Sam Payne and Alex Boye fabulous pop artist and Mormon tab choir member. The concert opened Saturday night with power house singer Jen Marco Handy and her group “Shine” and blues man Neil Bradley Owen. It was a great concert on a gorgeous summer evening with only a few crazy sound blips due to wind. Thanks to the support and efforts of the sound engineers with London Sound we were able to have the best sound, overall, our fest has ever had.

Saturday, during the day, was filled with a chance to meet and hear the music from new and old friends of our group like children’s songwriter Annie Bailey, members of the beautiful harmony group “Musically Inclined”, Mark Hansen, Sam Payne, Steve Brown (this year’s Fest President), Neil Bradley Owen, and many more including some we’d never heard of. They came in from the community to hear the music and wound up sharing their own during our open mic.

This year we celebrated one more first that everyone agreed was great fun…The “Green Jell-O Awards”. A clear plastic fancy swirled trophy with a picture of a bowl of green Jell-O in the middle and a little green plaque below telling what the award was for. A homage to the early fest’s days when a few bigwigs of the LDS music industry referred to the fest gathering as a ward talent show on steroids and a “Green Jell-O” event. Our founder took that as a complement as we are the music of the people…but hey, as they say “We’ve come a long way baby”. And as Greg Hansen, of Sounds of Zion noted when he joined us this year “I can’t believe how much talent is in your group?”…Yup, indeed we’ve got that covered. Our awards were few but fun with such areas of achievement as “Longest Poster”, “Most Encouraging Member”, “Farthest Traveled”, etc. with our first “Life Time Achievement” going to Mark Hansen.

Since I had been so busy preparing the fest behind the scenes, and taking care of my family over the last few months, I had only briefly noticed that I had been put on the “Songwriter’s in the round segment” for Saturday afternoon. Songwriting rounds, often seen in Nashville bars and clubs, are where a few selected songwriters share the stage and take turns sharing the songs (often well known ones) they’ve written. The songwriters generally don’t make them famous, the singers do, but there’s nothing like listening to the heart of a songwriter as they sing a popular radio tune the way they first played it out on their acoustic guitar.

So when it was time for me to get up there I wound up on stage in between two very well seasoned performers Sam Payne and Neil Bradley Owen (who not only write their songs, but make them popular by singing them in concerts often) along with Mark Hansen who’s usually heard singing his songs to a rockin’ minus track. I felt so unworthy, especially considering I’d hardly had time to practice and was the only one up there of the four of us without an album. But it was a blast to perform again, nervous as I was, and be the one who could be counted on to humor the crowd with my inability to remember my own lyrics.

Sunday was the culmination with our music devotional held at the Showtime Utah theatre in Pleasant Grove. Joan Peterson, who is known in Utah for hosting the “Sounds of the Sabbath” on KOSY 106.5 every Sunday, graciously allowed us to use her theatre for free. It had a great sound system and we were able to hear from such terrific singers as Jen Marco Handy, Lindy Kerby, Musically Inclined, songs by Annie Bailey with her young guest artists Hannah Ford, Natalie Gale, as well as Jen Marco Handy singing with her sweet daughter. Award winning songwriter Steve Brown endeared the crowd to his wonderfully funny folk style when he sang his hilarious song “Sister Hathaway’s casserole”. Nicole Sheahan with her beautifully unique vocals, Mike Weingarten, Jen Marco Handy and Lisa Harris with the group “Shine” also shared some amazing songs. The evening ended with the powerful and soulful vocals of Hope Goshurn and Kavita King singing “When You Believe” from the musical “Prince of Egypt”. Punch and cookies were served afterwards in true Mormon style.

So now, that months of planning are done and my life is slowing down again, I’m left with the wonderful memories of another fest, ideas on how to make it better next year, and plenty of leftover pop and snacks that didn’t sell…a near year supply of junk food which are making great fillers in my kid’s lunches.

Take care, till I write again and I hope you will join our LDS Musicians fest next year and discover some great new artists in person.

Julie Keyser

Return to the Neighborhood.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

You're Invited to the LDS Musicians Festival

To all my Musically inclined Friends, family and associates,

Your friends at LDSMusicians would like to invite you to attend the annual LDS Musicians Festival, sponsored in part by yourLDSNeighborhood.

I'm excited to let you know of a three day music festival coming up August 15-17 in Springville, Utah. I've been helping with the committee for the LDS Musicians festival over the last several months and we're so excited with the entire weekend's programs . . . and it's this next weekend.

Friday night will be a youth dance for ages 18 with DJ Shawn Phillips of FM 100.7 and a fashion show put on by Modest by Design as well as live entertainment.

Saturday is the main portion of the LDS Musicians Festival with opportunities for all kinds of musicians, singers and songwriters to share their stuff, and,

Saturday night, will be hosting Sam Payne and Alex Boye in a fabulous concert. Saturday night is a music devotional that will be held at the Showtime Utah Theatre in Pleasant Grove.

Both Friday night's dance and Saturday's concert are paid events. Everything else is free.

Please check out Arhytmatik, LDS Fest 2008 or Showtime Utah for more details.

Also, for those of you living in Utah you can catch one of two interviews that Sam Payne, Lindy Kerby, along with me, are doing to promote the fest on KOSY 106.5 with Joan Peterson.

Monday, August 11th at 9:00 am on KJZZ TV(channel 14) we'll be interviewed by Julie De Azevedo about the festival and using the internet for music in general. Hope you can catch one of those shows and hear Sam Payne's music, since the first portion of Joan's interview with us has already taken place and they played Lindy's gorgeous song already.

Also, if you can, please spread this invitation across the internet and to all family and friends. Since we are a group of musicians who meet via the internet we rely on sponsors and word-of -mouth to help us spread the word for this event every year.

If you have youth ages 14-18 who would like to attend the youth dance we would love for them to text the details to their friends . . . with your permission of course.

Thanks so much,
Julie Keyser
Co-Coodinator for the LDS Musicians Festival 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

yourLDSNeighborhood Wins Rights to 2008 Especially for Youth Music wins distribution rights to 2008 Especially for Youth™ music CD; The disc will be available for sale starting August 23; Popular artists include Jessie Clark Funk, Dan Beck and Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band

Salt Lake City, Utah (August 5, 2008)

The 2008 Especially for Youth™ CD, featuring the songs of local recording artists such as Jessie Clark Funk, Daniel Beck and Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band, will be available for commercial sale beginning August 16.

yourLDSneighborhood, which was awarded distribution rights to the popular CD, announced that the disc will be sold through its web site and at retail music stores along the Wasatch Front. The CD is a compilation of songs chosen to support the theme and focus of this year’s program “Steady and Sure” and has become a vital part of the EFY™ tradition. EFY™ is a summer program sponsored by the Church Educational System of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and held in locations through the U.S. and Canada.

Gaylen Rust, president and founder of, said the commercial release edition will contain an additional track not available on the CD distributed to EFY™ participants and feature more robust instrumental accompaniments.
“Music is an integral part of a young person’s life and the songs on this CD really speak to the everyday challenges and exhilarating experiences that youth encounter. It’s uplifting and inspiring but also the kind of music that’s fun to listen to anytime. It’s also a way for teens unable to attend EFY™ to catch the spirit and joy of the whole EFY™ event.”
The “Steady and Sure” CD features 12 tracks including
  • “Steady and Sure” – the title track on the disc by Jessie Clark Funk, as well as
  • “Amazing Grace,” by Daniel Beck,
  • “A Woman’s Heart,” by Felicia Wolf,
  • “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” by Mindy Gledhill and “
  • Dream Big,” by Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band
Other artists include Ben Truman, Megan Flinders, Greg Simpson, Hilary Weeks, Terry White, Tim Gates, and a group song “Hurrah for Israel,” by Daniel Beck, Megan Flinders, Jessie Clark Funk and Dan Kartchner. is a new virtual neighborhood launched in November, 2007 where a wide variety of goods and services are sold from clothing and jewelry to sports, scrapbooking, travel, and things of interest to home and family. Visitors can stroll through the neighborhood, stop and browse at retail stores, purchase merchandise, or stop at newsstands to chat with more than a dozen bloggers, read timely articles or listen to audio interviews with newsmakers and hometown heroes.

At the Neighborhood Jukebox, a new music feature in the neighborhood, visitors can listen to hundreds of new tunes and download them. A music directory lists dozens of musicians who are available for family reunions, concerts, weddings and other occasions.

Besides the virtual neighborhood, produces an informative lifestyle newsletter four times a week delivering thought-provoking and inspiring ideas, and offers special marketing opportunities for artists, musicians and authors – as well as those interested in buying artistic works.

Return to the Neighborhood.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sam Payne: Father to Son

The 1970’s was probably the best all around era for the singer/songwriter and out of that came some amazing greats. Like Don McLean , Jim Croche, David Gates of Bread, Carly Simon , and the list just goes on and on. The gift each of these amazing artists shared was not just their voices, but their lyrical artistry, some of the best the 20th Century produced.

Out of this same era of music sprang another great, but lesser known singer/songwriter named Marvin Payne and from him was born, what I truly believe to be, the greatest poetic lyricist of the 21st century thus far…Sam Payne!

From his website, we learn a little more about him:
Sam Payne was born in Provo, Utah and raised in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains. The son of folk singer and actor Marvin Payne, he grew up to serve a mission to Argentina, after which he returned to marry Kristie Lott, his high school sweetheart. He studied jazz and theater in college, which took him to stages from West Coast Universities to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Brother Payne served as a full-time Seminary teacher from 1995 to 2006, teaching most recently at Tuacahn (pronounced “TOO-uh-con”) High School for the Performing Arts. He holds a degree in English from Weber State University, and a Masters of Education degree from Southern Utah University. Brother Payne writes books for elementary school students, and has recorded a growing catalog of original music, which he performs before audiences large and small. Brother Payne hosts “the Sounds of Sunday,” a popular weekly inspirational radio program, and clients of his radio writing include Glenn Beck, the popular syndicated radio and television host. He and Kristie, together with their four boys, live in Lindon, Utah.
“Like father like son” in so many ways musically yet, there is something about Sam that is entirely different and has made him completely unique. Is it his incredibly cool rectangle shaped glasses or his amazing ability to “scat?” Only you can decide, but there is no doubt in my mind Sam is the ultimate contemporary Jazz musician, singer/songwriter, entertainer…bar none!

Not since Ella Fitzgerald, in my humble opinion, has there been a better scat artist and it’s this truly unique vocal ability of his that Sam fans love to hear the most. Well that, and of course, his terrific voice melded into his incredibly rich poetic lyrics that weave tales of adventure, heartache, triumph, and the joy of our human journey.

Maybe that’s why so many of his fans were begging him for the album with “the stories on it”. So now the totally cool album “Father to Son” is found for sale on his website …a compilation of song, Sam’s musical followers will rejoice over. This album is Sam; with his band the Sam Payne Project, singing to an intimate audience while filling in the blanks between songs with his remarkable story-telling. I invite you to find out for yourself why so many have become “Sam Fans.” Two men in dark suites and white shirts will not try to knock on your door and convert you to his music, but…your I-Pod might!

While you're at Sam's website, check out his upcoming concerts. We, at your yourLDSNeighborhood especially invite you to join us on Saturday, Aug. 16th at the Springville Arts Park, in Utah Co., as Sam Payne and Alex Boye headline this year’s LDS Music Fest put on by, and yourLDSNeighborhood, Find more information about the weekend fest at LDSFest 2008.

Enjoy discovering yet another great LDS artist till I write again…or we meet up at the LDS fest in August. (hint, hint)

Until next time,
Julie Keyser

© July 2008 by Julie Keyser

Monday, July 21, 2008

Most Common Mistakes Made by Independent Musicians and How to Fix Them

By Guest Blogger: Producer, Greg Hansen

You’re a singer or songwriter. You have talent, but what do you do with it? Let’s assume you have managed to get funding for an independent recording-what pitfalls do you want to avoid?

Here are 6 tips to help you as you embark on your journey as an artist.

Mistake #1: Not listening to your audience when writing your material.

Solution: Think of THEM, not YOU. Know why you are writing, and to whom. Write to uplift people, and not for selfish-expression. If your work requires substantial explanation, you have missed the boat. Know your audience and take them where they (or you) want them to go with your talents. You are already unique, use that for other’s good.

Mistake #2: Making your recordings unperformable in a live setting.

Solution: It is possible to adapt even the most sequenced techno hip hop tune to a live setting, but making it absolutely unperformable will be like shooting yourself in the foot. Though this requirement should not limit you in taking advantage of the array of digital possibilities available, bear in mind that, if it is good, someday someone will want to perform it.

Mistake #3: Getting stuck in production. Endlessly tweaking vocals, changing arrangements, experimenting in the studio on the 5% that will only matter to you, and not your audience.

Solution: This is a huge problem. Is it better to spend extra money on special mastering instead of promotion? Not if your funds are limited. Have a budget and stick to it. Realize that 95% of what you do will work, and that extra 5% you spend diddling around will not matter to the audience.

Mistake #4: Bad cover art.

Solution: Your CD cover is the first line of advertising for your work. It should reflect tastefully what the album is, and why it should be bought, at a glance. It should be professional and compelling. Instead of using Aunt Jane’s cousin who draws well, get a designer with a track record in the music industry. A good starting point can be found by looking at the list of winning designers on

Mistake #5: Not getting distribution.

Solution: Distribution comes in two formats: digital downloads and physical cd’s in stores. You need both. For people to buy your album, it should be readily available. More outlets mean more sales. Get into as many outlets as you can. If you can’t get distribution, you may have one of two problems-your album is not marketable, or you haven’t found the right distributor for your work.

Mistake #6: Getting distribution but not budgeting for promotion.

Solution: Putting your music on iTunes and in stores is meaningless without promotion. Promotion and touring are the holy grail of music. It does no good to have your work in many outlets if you are not driving people to them.

Budget for promotion. Maintain an active e-mail list; buy promotion and advertising from reputable companies. Look for the most bang for the buck. Then perform, perform, perform-anywhere you can. Keep in touch with your fans. Get radio and internet presence if you can. Send your cd to media outlets and follow up. Most of all-don’t give up! Keep doing it long after the first release. Eventually, it will pay off.

Greg Hansen is an award-winning record producer and arranger. To learn more about Greg, visit Greg has endorsed as an excellent promotional tool for independent musicians.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fiddlesticks: From Sea to Shining Sea

Maybe you’re one of the unlucky people who’ve never heard of FiddleSticks. The amazing Award winning family Celtic band who’s performed all over the world, including the 2002 Olympics, and put out eight albums since 1998. Well let me tell you what…once you’ve seen them perform live you will never forget them!

You can catch a small sampling of their Award winning Celtic Style on the yourLDSNeighborhood Jukebox, in the country/folk and inspirational sections, or buy their albums online at (for the best deal) or at,, and

From their website we learn a little more about their background:
FiddleSticks is the Davis family folk group that performs folk songs and traditional tunes from the Celtic lands, from England, and from America. Our band is made up of three sisters, Rebecca, Kathryn, and Elizabeth, and their dad Marco Davis. Marco's wife is Andi. Featured instruments include fiddle, flutes, cello, bodhran (Irish drum), guitar, and vocals.

We've made eight recordings, "A FiddleSticks Sampler" (1998), "Playing Favorites" (1999) and a Christmas CD called "Cold Fusion" (2000), "Time and Again" (2001), "Cat and the Fiddle" (2002), "Return to Nauvoo" (2004), "Ampersand" (2006), and "Farewell to Nauvoo" (2006). Our music is a mix of traditional dance music, together with original pieces by the group's young composer (Kate), as well as plenty of "storytelling" songs of life, love, and laughter. A typical performance also includes a few set of Klezmer (Jewish), continental European, and Mormon Pioneer music.

We got our start playing at the Maryland Renaissance Fair in Annapolis under the direction of the girls' mother, Kira. We have performed for various festivals, concert series, civic organizations and private parties throughout throughout the Mountain West, California, Maryland and New England. We did a vacation/concert tour in Holland and Italy in summer 2000. In 2003 we did a reverse pioneer trek concert tour from Utah back across Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa, ending with a week long engagement in Nauvoo, Illinois. 2004 took us to Japan for concerts around Toyko and Nagoya, and to the Pacific Northwest. In spite of school and work we still manage to do over fifty public performances a year, including concerts and school programs for the 1998, 2000, and 2002 Utah Performing Arts Tour.

~ Fiddlesticks

FiddleSticks is the combined talents of Mark Davis (guitar and “Bodhran” (or Irish drum) and his three daughters Liz (cello), Katie (fiddle and vocals) and Rebecca (flute, whistle, recorder and vocals). From time to time the talents of Mark’s wife Andi, who plays the hammer dulcimer, and any one of the instrumental talents of Mark’s three son-in-laws can also be seen joining in when they perform.

It can be hard to catch them live anymore, since the four of them are living from “Sea to Shining Sea” quite literally, from Hawaii to Boston and in between. Their live shows are limited to one or two annual “reunion concerts” nowadays. But their recorded music remains as popular as ever, and they’re even planning some new records. Currently they are working on two very cool album concepts.

First though, it helps to know that since Liz is currently enrolled at the “Berklee (yes that’s spelled right) College of Music in Boston” she will be mixing the separate tracks submitted by each family member sent to her all recorded wherever they are currently living. I just love modern music making.

The group’s current recording project, being spearheaded by Liz, is to collect pioneer lullabies and other storytelling poems, and write and arrange music in FiddleSticks old-time and Celtic Style. Becca is collecting (or writing) the lyrics, Liz will write the tunes, and Katie’s in charge of arrangements… though they’ll probably all do some of each. They’re interested in any old favorite pioneer era poems or lullabies people might have – if you have any ideas, let them know!

Rebecca meanwhile has been talking about producing a FiddleSticks album that fuses their classic Celtic style with many of the traditional musical sounds reflecting where in the world they have lived including Hawaii, where Becca now lives, South Africa, where Katie recently served an LDS mission, Netherlands, where Liz was born, and possibly Appalachia, since Katie’s now living in Tennessee. I can’t wait for those albums to be made!

I remember the first time I ever heard them play live. It was at their home the day after Christmas for their annual “Boxing Day”. No, we didn’t spend the evening watching a boxing match between the likes of Tyson and Holyfield. “Boxing Day”, Mark taught me, is traditionally the day after Christmas when the English would “box up” the food from the night before and give to their servants along with the servant gifts. However, at the Davis home it’s when FiddleSticks shares their gift of music with their guests and where the guests can share their musical gifts as well. My favorite part of the evening was Katie singing “Devil Went Down to Georgia” in between her screamin’ Fiddle licks…AWESOME! Maybe not your traditional Holiday song but I’ve never had more fun the day after Christmas in my whole life. It sure beat fighting the crowds at the after Christmas sales.

I also remember when FiddleSticks, received their Pearl Award for “Best Contemporary Instrumental Recording” because I was a fan in the audience screaming with excitement. However, Mark remembers it, not just for the excitement of winning but since he hadn’t really planned on taking home an award…he wore flip flops with his Tuxedo! That meant of course a slightly embarrassing walk for him to the stage, but no worries…I didn’t notice and I seriously doubt he started a new grunge fashion trend.

So, make sure to check out their wonderful Celtic sound and consider adding their music to your growing collection. Do as Mark’s daughters do as soon as they get a new album…rip it onto I-Tunes, or do as Mark does and enjoy looking at the album cover to cover, but either way you won’t be disappointed.

Till next time,
Julie Keyser

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Barry Hansen: Writing the Songs of Life

Most know Barry Hansen, for his wonderful voice, which is featured on numerous albums as well as his own album “My Soul Hungered”, but few know him as “Barry the songwriter”. Yup . . . just like me, he is in the class of slightly sanity deprived human beings who thrive on . . . not just the written word . . . BUT putting together words that rhyme just to tell a story in four and half minutes or less while set to music.

So, other than the fact that Barry has a wonderful voice and is a Pearl-award nominated recording artist…and I’m NOT, we have a lot in common…when it comes to songwriting anyway.

Here's what I pulled from his website about him:
"Barry Hansen grew up in Northwest Washington and studied voice at Brigham Young University, also singing with BYU's Vocal Jazz Ensemble. As a studio vocalist, Barry is featured on several inspirational albums, mostly from the Inspirational Music Showcase record label. As a songwriter, he has recorded two songs co-written with his brother, record producer Greg Hansen. A member of the Faith Centered Music Association, Barry was a 2004 FCMA Pearl Award nominee for Studio Vocalist, and a 2006 nominee for Male Vocalist of the Year. He performed in the televised 2003 and 2004 Pearl Awards broadcasts. As a freelance graphic designer, he is also a four-time Pearl Award nominee for Album Design, winning the award in 2004. Barry recorded his first solo album, My Soul Hungered, in 2004. He hopes to release a follow up album in the summer of 2007. Barry frequently performs locally and around the country, singing both inspirational and contemporary ballads. He has traveled throughout the United States both as a singer and a public speaker. "
Both of us, I found out, began to take seriously the craft of songwriting in our 30’s while raising our kids…he has eight! We grew up in the same era, so we were both inspired by the great songwriters of the 70’s. Going back to college was not an option for either of us and so learning through other mediums, outside the walls of higher academia, became a must. But as Barry told me, even though it’s the longer way of learning the craft we have “a lot more life experience to draw from in writing songs!”

You can listen to one of my favorite Barry Hansen songs, co-written with his brother Greg, called One Step Closer in the country section of the yourLDSNeighborhood Jukebox. He’s got other great songs you can listen to and vote on as well in the jukebox.

So now, without further adieu, please read below the enlightened answers to a few questions I asked this truly gifted songwriter.

Tell me, what it is that has drawn you to songwriting?

Well, I've always appreciated memorable songs. I listened to John Denver, the Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel, Bread and others when I was young. I had a companion on my mission who wrote music and I wrote lyrics to a few of his songs. I took a poetry class at BYU and enjoyed the way words could have double and triple meanings and nuances. I was attracted to advertising while at BYU partly because I enjoyed great headlines that were clever and had multiple levels of meaning. Writing songs was always in the back of my mind, but I didn't start until around 1999.

When I moved to Utah and started singing professionally in 2001, I was around a lot of great songwriters and began to think more in terms of "that would make a great hook" when I'd hear or think of a catchy phrase. Five or six years ago I was designing an album cover for Let Us Go Forth, a missionary-themed album for Sounds of Zion. As the designer I was privy to the song requests that went out to songwriters.

One day while driving on I-15 a chorus started coming to me, both words and music at the same time. I wrote it out and took it to my brother, Greg, who added his magic and made it a real song. We recorded a demo and it ended up as the title track on the album.

Since then I've started dozens of songs and even finished a few of them! I've read books, listened carefully to great songs, attended classes and followed the advice of my more-experienced co-writer (Greg) to try to learn the art of songwriting. Something that really motivates me to write is the desire to be more than a singer; to create something that is uniquely mine, not just my interpretation. My first album had only one original song on it; half or more on my next album will be original.

How do you go about the process for yourself? Are you the 'plunk a tune down and write to it' type or 'lyrics first tune second' (more my style) type?

I haven't yet settled into a certain pattern. I've written both ways, and sometimes come up with both lyrics and tune at the same time. The chorus comes first, starting with the main hook idea and building out from there. Most often the lyrics come before the tune, although I do have a tune to which I haven't written lyrics yet. I'm stronger at lyrics than tunes, which works well because Greg's the other way around. Sometimes I only write lyrics and Greg writes the music, but usually we both work on both. I find it easier to come up with verses if I have a tune in mind, even if Greg changes it later.

Sometimes a song will come quickly, especially if it's based on real experience. I have a lot of stories I share when I present to youth and other groups, and I've been taking those stories and turning them into songs. But sometimes songs are really hard to crank out. It requires a lot of time and that's hard to come by with a full-time business and eight children. So my process is usually too slow for my liking. But I'm getting faster.

Your brother obviously has had opportunities to work with some pretty big names in the industry, are there any people in the commercial music world that you've enjoyed working with and why?

I've enjoyed working with all of them. A whole new group of friends opened up to me when I got into the business. I'm constantly in awe of those who started much earlier in life than I did and whose talents and skills far exceed mine. I've especially enjoyed traveling and performing with the artists from Sounds of Zion's Inspirational Music Showcase. Steve & Johanne Perry, Tammy Robinson, Tanya Barkdull, Dave & LaRene Tinney, Michael Dowdle, Jessie Clark Funk, Todd McCabe, April Moriarty, and Rebecca Lopez have all been great to work with. I've also enjoyed working with songwriters and new artists both in the role of studio vocalist and as album designer. Engineers such as Steve Lerud and Guy Randle have been great to work with, as well as Earl Madsen and Doyl Peck at Sounds of Zion, and of course my own relatives, Greg and Bev Hansen. The FCMA has been wonderful to be a part of. I've never met more friendly, generous, down-to-earth people than those in our area's music business. They've all been helpful and kind to me as I've tried to learn the ropes in the music business, and their level of talent is amazing.

Who is your "songwriting Idol"? Mine is John Denver because he could paint such a wonderful picture both lyrically and musically. I have about a third of his talent though...if that.

He's great. I don't have one single idol. I really like some of the songs Michael Bublé and his co-writers are putting out lately. I like Brad Paisley. I've admired Steven K. Jones' work for the CES program (he wrote the lyrics for the title track of my first album, My Soul Hungered). Sam Payne, Cherie Call, Kenneth Cope and Hilary Weeks have influenced me a lot. Of course, I feel silly naming great songwriters because I'm such a newbie at it. But I hope to be closer to their level someday.

Since school is not an option right now for you, in what ways are you gaining more education for yourself when it comes to songwriting? And finally, what would you suggest for those who are in similar shoes as yours when it comes to increasing their skills as both a writer and musician without formal schooling?

In my late thirties, when my wife told me to stop dreaming, move to Utah and get serious about music, I knew I had a lot to learn. I'd visited Greg and accompanied him on a few recording sessions, so I had an idea of the skills real professionals have. I considered going back to college to study MDT (Music Dance Theatre) or Media Music, but that wasn't a realistic option. One major weakness was theory, something my voice teachers at BYU had always tried to teach me, but I was only interested in singing then. So I started with theory/piano lessons for a year before we moved to Utah, and then when we were here I took voice lessons from teachers who taught BYU's MDT students. I studied theory from the big book that all Tabernacle Choir hopefuls use to pass the theory test that's part of the audition process. I listened to the radio and analyzed what made songs great. I interviewed a songwriter and listened to or read interviews of other songwriters. I've attended FCMA (Faith Centered Music Assoc.) workshops by Rob Honey and Lowell Alexander. And of course, I've tried to write as often as I can. I've written for album song requests, a songwriting contest, and for my own album. Having a record producer/composer/arranger for a brother has been a big help. I pay attention to his feedback. I'm interested in looking into songwriting associations such as NSAI (Nashville Songwriter Association Int.) I can only squeeze in so much, which is frustrating when I think of the progress I could make if I had the luxury of being a full-time student again. But now I've got two kids of my own at college and several still at home, so I have many demands on my time and resources and I have to be careful with both.

At the end of the day, I've found that much of what can be learned in college can be learned privately. The same teachers, the same books and the same workshops are available to anyone. It just takes longer.

And there endeth the interview with Barry Hansen. Take Care 'til we meet on this blog again!

~ Julie Keyser

Sunday, June 22, 2008

From Producer Greg Hansen to Fellow Musicians

Fellow Musicians,

After my 30 years in the music business, we FINALLY have something that is EXACTLY what songwriters and singers need, to be heard and get opportunities. has sponsored an idea fostered in the FCMA (Faith Centered Music Association) by Jeannine Lasky and Staci Peters, -it’s called the Neighborhood Jukebox. It’s just that-a free online jukebox player. (

Singers and songwriters can upload demos and songs, and get them heard by producers and voted on by the public. Established artists can get more exposure for their albums. By encouraging your family and friends to go listen to your songs on the Jukebox, everyone benefits from the traffic. It’s free to listen and vote. It’s the go-to place for producers to find new songs and singers for upcoming albums. It even links to your site or your album for purchase. The Jukebox is heavily advertised on BYUTV, billboards and radio.

To contribute songs to the Jukebox, you must be a member of the yourLDSneighborhood Music Directory-the yellow pages of LDS musicians. A $75 a year fee gives you the benefits of basic advertising, as well as making it possible to upload your songs to the Jukebox for $5 a tune.

Professionals such as Jason Deere, Jon Schmidt, Jessie Clark Funk, Michael Dowdle, Alex Boye, Dallyn Vail Bayles, Dan Beck, Sam Payne and Steven Kapp Perry have all joined the Jukebox and Directory. After only two months of operation, two new people are already negotiating record deals as a result of being on the Jukebox.

But it gets better! At the end of the year, the songs and singers with the highest views and votes will be considered by a committee of professionals, to have their songs produced at no cost to them on the Best of the Neighborhood Cd.

This is such a no-brainer great deal for every musician, I have gotten completely behind it. It's a total, everybody-wins, and everyone-can-be-included thing with no downside.

Please go to the Jukebox and sign up. You can push the Contribute to the Jukebox button to pay your $75 fee and upload your songs. Instructions are on the Help button.

If you want to just listen, push the category button, then the song button, and listen. To vote and comment on songs, follow the directions given on the Join the Jukebox button.

If this all just sounds too hard, simply email me and I'll get you signed up and all set.

Remember: the greatest song ever written does no good without an audience.

Greg Hansen

Monday, June 16, 2008

Performing Opportunities Abound for Musicians

by Greg Hansen, Visiting Blogger
yourLDSNeighborhood -- Music Block // Jukebox

Many singers and musicians wonder how to get opportunities to perform, but a little effort and research will turn up more possibilities than ever before.

As an example, a simple look at magazine reveals a host of events, contests, classes, venues and locations with chances to perfom for those with a good act or presentation.

The In the News column of the magazine lists five recent music and dance contests that had open auditions, resulting in national exposure or cash prizes, and those who won them.

Check your local paper: for example, The Utah Valley Event Calendar has four pages of activities going on, many that include open audition performances, and even some paying gigs.

There have been four open calls for songs in the last two months found on PositiveMusicandArts. Last week, a BYU student won $1000 for his song about the march of the Mormon Battalion.

By using a little initiative, musicians will realize that every city has their festival week and needs performers, there are artists who sing but don’t write songs themselves, and there are more performing contests than ever before, due to the spread of reality tv.

Look for city festivals, fund-raising dinners for charity, and the educational performances, dance concerts, non-profit venues and arts festivals in your area. Just by entering, and having a good presentation, you can get as many gigs as you want.

Summer events, winterfests, Christmas events, and holidays all provide occasions needing entertainment.

Those who are willing to do a little homework can go as far as their talent will take them.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more.

Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here.

Return to the Neighborhood.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lindy Kerby—One of God’s Great Instruments

Have you ever been so thrilled by the unexpected that it puts you to tears? I recently was by my good friend Lindy Kerby. I’ve known Lindy for several years as she was one of the foursome, along with myself, who performed together as the “Perfect Mother’s Society”. I thought I knew Lindy’s music and style better than just about anyone, but at BYU Women’s Conference, held the end of May…Lindy totally blew me away!

Sitting in the DeJong Concert Hall at BYU I probably bragged just a little too much to the sisters sitting next to me about my good friend Lindy’s amazing musical talents. She was performing at the end of the “Women of God” workshop we were attending. I can’t describe what a thrill ran through me as I saw and heard Lindy perform her original duet “I’ll Stay with You” with the fabulous actress/singer Jessica Perry. I was overcome with the spirit during their incredible vocal performance as they acted out the parts of Naomi and Rachel from the Old Testament. It felt like we were watching the climactic scene of a Broadway theatre piece. Everyone was brought to tears and when it was all over I turned to the gal next to me, as we were wiping our eyes, and said “Didn’t I tell you she was good?”

The song “I’ll Stay with You” can be found on Lindy’s newest CD “Thy God, My God”. While this album only contains three of Lindy’s original songs it also includes the background tracks to all three allowing you to sing along if you want and perform them yourself. Plus it includes one of Lindy’s beautiful original piano medleys as a bonus track. Lindy has used three wonderful vocalists, besides herself, on this album…Jessica Perry, Angel Howlett, and Rebecca Lopez. You can go to The Neighborhood Jukebox at and listen to a full length recording of “Living Water” sung by the gorgeous vocals of Rebecca Lopez.

I know how many years this has been in the making for Lindy and I’m so happy to see her dream finally start coming to fruition with the release of her first album of her original songs. Her first album, of just her beautiful piano medleys is called “Little Miracles” and can be found at

So do yourself a favor and check out Lindy Kerby’s music and see why she is an inspiration in my life and will be in yours!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Jukebox Hero

“With stars in my eyes”…I’m sending you to Okay, in your kids' eyes, you have to be older than dirt to know I started this blog out in reference to an “Old” Foreigner song…but how could I resist since the “Jukebox” is such a cool new part of to visit?

Of course I’m totally partial to the since I’m a songwriter and, YES, you can check out a couple of my songs on the Jukebox. Although I’m listed as the artist, I’m really just the writer of the two songs I have on the Jukebox: “Toward Zion” is sung by Jen Handy and “Tempted” is sung by Jennifer Griffiths, who was also my cowriter on that song.

But enough about me…check out Dylan Jackson or Michael Squires with their cool sounds and vocals. You’ll love Michael’s tongue-in-cheek version of "LDS Piano Man." And if you’re a rocker, you’re going to “Bang Your Head” for joy to the heavy guitar sounds of Mark Hansen. Mark’s music proves the spirit works (lyrically anyway) through rockers too…though most of his songs will probably only get mom’s approval for play Monday-Saturday. Mark does NOT do easy-listening, help-you-unwind-on-the-Sabbath-day, kind of music.

If you want a cool pop or country sound that doesn’t require the sub woofer blasting to get the full effect of the song, then you’ll enjoy the music of Jennifer Lerud and Jeannine Lasky. Also there are more artists, songwriters, and composers to discover—some you probably already know, such as Barry Hansen, who sings a great Christian/country song called "One Step Closer."

Best of all, if you happen to be an LDS musician, or a musician who is LDS, or even an nonLDS musician looking to share your positive music with a growing market, you can become a member of the music registry for only $75.00 a year. With your membership you get the neighborhood’s basic advertising, AND you also qualify to add your music to the Jukebox for one low fee per song. You can also add a link for each song that sends listeners to purchase your music. Plus you can receive feedback and ratings from listeners. As the Jukebox concept becomes known, over time you will see many more artists sign on. Be one of the first to join and get DISCOVERED!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Alex Boyé…He’s Got SPIRIT!

Have you ever dreamed of being on stage, singing your guts out as the next American Idol finalist or for anyone who would listen? Okay, maybe you’re only brave enough to sing your guts out in the shower when no one but your dog is home to hear. Either way, I have good news for YOU!

Alex Boyé (, entertainer extraordinaire, recently started conducting workshops ( ) tailored to teach you how to be a much better stage performer. His workshop will help you “be brave” on stage AND give you the secret for selling twice as many CDs.

Recently, I saw Alex and Jessie Clark Funk perform together for a Valentine’s concert sponsored by I was Amazed at his performance, especially considering he did all his singing, dancing, and comedy while sick. He lives by the actor’s motto “The Show Must Go On,” and with Alex, the show is never disappointing…no matter what state of health he’s in.

For those of you who don’t know much about Alex and his amazing accomplishments, let me just share this snippet from his personal bio with you: “Alex Boyé was born and raised in London, England. Alex became the lead singer in the European boy band Awesome and signed a recording contract with Universal Records in 1996. The band had hits in more than 15 countries, selling over half a million CDs and has performed alongside such artists as N'SYNC, The Backstreet Boys, Missy Elliott, Bryan Adams, Mary. J. Blige, the Smashing Pumpkins, and George Michael to name a few. Alex has since received the 2005 Male Artists Listener Award by the LDS Booksellers Association for his album entitled Testimony, and he also received the 2006 Spirit of Heritage Award for his notable work with youth, an honor also given to Senator Hatch, NBA star Thurl Bailey, and Elizabeth Smart in previous years. Additionally, Alex is the winner of two Pearl Awards from the Faith Centered Music Association.”

How Alex left his band and growing success behind and eventually wound up in Utah is an inspiring story he’ll have to share, and you’ll have to hear one day from him…as I could never do it justice.

So…back to making your dreams of stardom come true. I was fortunate enough to attend Alex’s very first stage performance workshop (, and I came out of it on fire! In it Alex shared his surefire performance plan—a “script” as he calls it—that guides you on how to rate each of your songs, choose the order to perform them in (or how to choose the right song if you can only sing one), and what you need to know about an audience.

As I listened, I remembered the times I performed with a group called the Perfect Mother’s Society and wished I had attended this workshop back in those days. One of the things I noted, with my past performances in mind, is that our most successful gigs (where we communicated well with our audience) were the ones where we had actually followed the steps (without us knowing it) that Alex outlines. It was AWESOME to get that kind of information on paper and learn how it has worked in Alex’s career. So, check out Alex’s website,, or right now, and find out how you too can attend his next workshop and become a STAR on STAGE! And, while you’re checking out Alex’s website, make sure to find out how to purchase his terrific new soulful CD Spirit.

If you live in Utah, go to in Centerville for information on the production of Big River that Alex will be starring in from the end of February through March.

Oh! And I forgot to mention…Alex is a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir too! Check out his solo, with full choir back up, at the link below. (NOTE: Drag the cursor to 18mins 46 seconds to get the video going.)
Watch the video now

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Calling All Angels

Have you ever had a connection with a song or a singer’s voice that just hits you hard…maybe even hard enough that the tissues come out? Well let me share with you one such event that happened recently: My first time listening to (and several times since) Jessie Clark Funk’s new album “Everything Speak His Name” found at

You see this summer will mark my oldest daughter’s 18th birthday. However, my Jessica won’t be blowing out candles or eating the cake and ice cream with us. We won’t be watching her walk, with hundreds of other classmates, to receive her high school Diploma in June or see her off to college. Jess lived only three weeks in her short life. I have spent the last nearly 18 years watching others her age live life, wondering to myself “What would she look like now? What boys would she like? Who would be her friends? The questions are endless.”

So…as not to depress you all, I share my very personal feelings only briefly as a way of helping you understand just how much Jessie Clark Funk’s latest album “Everything Speaks His Name” has touched me…comforted me.

Sadly, Jessie and Jim Funk also lost a baby girl this past year. And so it is no surprise that Jessie’s latest album is filled with songs that deal with struggle, grief, and loss, but always with a sense of Hope. Hope that comes from the promise and comfort the spirit gives to us that we will indeed see our loved ones again, who have passed on, because of the great sacrifice of our Savior Jesus.

I entitled this interview not after her album’s title, but after the song I love the most from it. The one that reaches me the deepest is written by Jessie’s husband Jim and co-writer Scott Van Orden, Calling All Angels. Maybe only a mother, who has known the loss of a child, could fully appreciate this song, but it is so simple and so expressive of how a mother feels about losing her child. Jim’s ability to actually “feel” the heart and thoughts of a woman, especially in this song, has always impressed me. Few men are in touch enough (including my own husband who has given up trying to understand me) to write a song like Calling All Angels or Kenny Rodger’s #1 hit Buy Me a Rose as Jim Funk and co-writer Eric Hickenlooper were able to.

Mostly though, I’m impressed with whom Jessie is at her core and the incredible way she is able to express the feelings of each of the song writer’s on this album. This is why Jessie is a multi-award winning vocal artist. Her ability to interpret and express the heart of the songwriter and bring the canvas of their words to life is truly legendary within the LDS music industry. You can hear some of her wonderful artistry, as well as that of fabulous entertainer/singer Alex Boye, and other talented guest acts, this coming Saturday, Feb. 16th, in a special Valentines Concert sponsored by your friends at Check out Jessie’s website at, or Alex Boye’s at for concert details.

I wanted to find out from Jessie, after getting her terrific album, what inspired her choices of songs. Her reply “Nature songs really appealed to me” as well as positive hopeful songs. Songs like Again and The Prayer (which she sings magnificently as a duet with my favorite tenor, Daniel Beck) brought her comfort and she just loved No One Knows My Heart. All these songs speak to one going through trials but with the understanding, as Jessie states, “that we have trials for a reason”. She said to me that this “latest album represents me the best, and I hope people give it a listen.” I sure hope people do too, because some albums you listen to once in awhile and others more often. I listen to this one quite often!

As for that never ending balancing act of career and family I asked her how she manages. I was so impressed with her answer as she said she loves to do so many things “but, I have to say ‘no’ to a lot of things”. Jessie sets limits for herself, allowing herself only to do a few music things a month, as she doesn’t want her daughter to feel she comes in second place behind music. Personally…I needed to hear that, as I often allow my writing to come before my children. “Mom, when are you getting off the computer?” is unfortunately a cliché in our home.

Now, if there is one thing I learned about Jessie Clark Funk while doing this interview, it’s that she has her priorities right. I had read that she had signed a contract and went to Florida, but I had no idea that the contract was with an independent label associated with Sony Records. They were grooming her to be huge and gave her the lavish lifestyle she had always dreamed of. If she had continued with them, no doubt by now the entire world would know her too, and the fame and wealth she once wanted so badly, would have been hers. But, after only a few months of living in such worldly splendor, she felt “a heaviness…darkness” she’d never felt before. She was surrounded by a lifestyle that was against everything she’d been taught growing up. So she left it all behind her and went back to Utah putting her trust in God that he would lead her. She didn’t even know, until she came back to Utah, that there was a music industry in the state…one that focuses on the LDS market. Now she is at the top of that market and blessed with greater wealth than the world could offer…her beautiful family.

So, if you can make it, don’t miss a magical moment this Saturday to catch Jessie Clark Funk, in song. I’ll be there too. If you catch the concert, be sure to reply and give some feedback on “Your Music Notes” blog site and…I’ll see you there!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sadness and Song

A journal entry from Alex Boyé

Last night, while in the Tabernacle rehearsing songs for President Hinckley's funeral, President Mac Christiansen (Chairman of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) made a surprise announcement. He informed us that we were to cut our rehearsals short tonight, as we had been requested by the invitation of Elder Hinckley, (President Hinkley's son) to join with him and members of his family for a private viewing of President Hinckley. What an honor! We were instructed to bring our hymn books, in the likelihood of being asked to sing for the family. As we made our way through the halls to where our beloved prophet was laid to view, President Hinckley's son addressed us for a few minutes. He told us that his father found much pleasure, enjoyment, and pride in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and that he was happy with the choir. He told us that as we viewed his father's body, it may be a seemingly sad occasion to us, but that it was not. After his short address, he thanked us for our service in the choir, and told us we could stay here as long as we liked, but asked that we might favor him and his family with a few songs. Let me say this: I have performed many songs in my short lifetime in many venues across the world. I have performed in stadiums filled with thousands of people and sung on TV shows broadcast to millions of people. But to be in that room gathered around the Presidents casket along with over 300 choir friends, singing God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again, was the most amazing experience for me. That night, I witnessed a special outpouring of the spirit, and felt the presence of our beloved prophet in the room. We all did. Needless to say, there was not a dry eye in sight. This single event will go down as the most significant, and most memorable performance of my life! How blessed we are to have been alive during the tenure of President Hinckley! During rehearsals last night, one of the choir members put it in a nutshell when he said to me, "Not only have we lost our spiritual leader, but it also feels like we lost our grandpa." I suppose that's the way we all felt about him. How blessed we are to have been alive during the tenure of President Hinckley, and to have witnessed the incredible growth of the church under his divine leadership.

I testify to all who are reading this entry, that the man I sang to last night was a Prophet of God, who held all the necessary keys and authority to lead and direct this church as the Savior would, if he were here himself, and that through his teachings and counsel, we are surely better people as individuals and as a Church, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Interview with Greg Hansen

Several years ago, I attended my very first Faith Centered Music Association (FCMA) workshop. I was so excited to attend and be taught by some of the best in the LDS music business. As I got out of my car in the BYU parking lot, I noticed a really tall guy (at least in comparison to my short self) get out of his car and head in the same direction as me, walking just a few feet ahead.

While attending the workshop that day I soon discovered that the really tall guy was none other than Greg Hansen—the inspiration behind the Sounds of Zion record label and one of the most successful producers of LDS music ever.

A lot of the detail stuff about Greg I’ve learned over the years and not all at that workshop, but I really learned the most about him just this past week when I was privileged to interview him over the phone.

Like many of you, I am familiar with the wonderful albums Greg has produced with Sounds of Zion in conjunction with amazing artists, such as Jessie Clark Funk, Tammy Simister Robinson, Barry Hansen, etc. But I’m ashamed to say that I just barely learned this past week that Greg is just as successful outside of the LDS market, having worked with such greats as David Foster (also known as the man who gave us Josh Grobin and Michael Buble—see, Sony Music (Nashville), EMI Records (New York), Bob Hope, and the list just goes on and on. Check out his website ( so you can see his long history of amazing musical achievements for yourself.

During our conversation I not only found Greg to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever talked to in the music industry, but…Greg Rocks! Well okay, maybe not incredibly hard since he’s a jazz musician at heart, but he started his label, Eagle Springs Records, for those music artists who don’t quite fit the mold of “LDS inspirational,” which is what is mainly produced through Sounds of Zion. It was this wonderful discovery about Greg that really got me excited, because like me, he has a vision of a day when LDS music won’t just be known for what you can hear on Sunday radio programming, but will include uplifting music of all genres.

Greg also has a mentoring program he runs through his website for those who are trying to get in the business, either as songwriters or artists or both. To get the instructions on how to submit your music, go to Greg’s “Latest News” section, scroll down to the “Mentoring” section, and then click “for more information.”

Check out Greg’s web music store,, where you can download songs from independent and signed artists whose songs reflect a positive message no matter the genre or their religion. And for all you independent musicians and writers out there, you can also sell your songs one song at a time through this great new site as long as they fit Greg’s high-quality production standards, which are the highest in the industry. And for those of you who want to buy or sell your own original LDS sheet music, check out

Okay, I’ve made this blog a bit longer than normal, but what can you do when your subject matter is as influential to the LDS music industry as they come and offers so many new exciting ways to break into the industry…give him your attention!
So with that said, I’m posting a little excerpt from Greg Hansen himself about Sara Bethany Ham, one of the newest artists he is helping develop through his new Eagle Springs Records label, so…read up!

Sara Bethany Ham
A New Voice with a Firm Mission
by Greg Hansen

A New Voice
Sara Bethany Ham may be one of the first truly new artists to hit the LDS market in years. Youth and parents who've heard her debut album, Wanna Be Brave, seem to bubble up adjectives like a fountain: "youthful, fresh, vibrant, sincere, upbeat, and wholesome—just what we've been wishing for.”

Sara, now 20, has been singing for years, and has always wanted to perform music that would uplift and inspire people. She was featured as a soloist on Jenny Phillip's theme albums, and toured with Jenny's group. Sara's warm, sincere, and youthful voice is slightly reminiscent of Christian artist Nicole Nordemann. Memorable tracks include the title cut “Wanna Be Brave,” “Bring On the Rain,” “Awake,” and several new never-before recorded songs by noted LDS songwriters. It breaks the mold on what has gone before, yet is never inappropriate.

A Firm Mission
“I wanted young people to know they can still be cool without lowering their standards,” says Sara, who grew up in California. Her album is positive, motivating, and filled with powerful messages of faith, testimony, and courage, with a sound both youth and parents will love. Look for it wherever LDS music is sold, online or in stores, or visit her website,

A New Label
Wanna Be Brave represents the first release of the new positive music label, Eagle Springs Records, owned by multi-award winning producer Greg Hansen and Pearl Award-winning engineer Steve Lerud. Eagle Springs produces music that is positive, refreshing, and multigenre—not necessarily tied to any single religion or sound. It is the next step of progression in music that appeals to a broad values-based audience. The label's mission is to “create music that is excellent, edifying, and entertaining, leaving the listener better for having heard it.”

Copyright Julie Keyser, December 2007