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.