ST. GEORGE — As the end of a difficult year draws to a close, Grace Bestowed, a group of musicians through Calvary Chapel Hurricane Valley, has released a holiday album to lift spirits and spread joy when people need it most.
“A Christmas Offering” is a collaborative project that took nearly two years to complete and features classic carols like “Silent Night,” as well as original and re-envisioned tracks.
“We just really wanted something that we could enjoy – that our church, family and friends could enjoy,” Gael Freezer, who plays flute and sings on the album, told St. George News. “It was meant to sound like your family playing and singing with you, so when someone puts on our CD or listens to the MP3s, we really hope that it feels like they’re sitting in the living room with us on Christmas Day and we’re just singing favorite songs.”
Freezer is joined by six other local musicians on the album, including her father, Danny Fox, who plays guitar and harmonium. The CD was recorded, mixed and mastered by Freezer’s husband, Mark, and his friend Jimmy Power, who collaborated from England. The album was originally meant to be released last Christmas, but the group felt it was unfinished and needed more time. The result is something that will be new for most people.
“It’s not your cookie cutter Christmas album,” Fox said. “First off, because Gael lived in England for several years and her husband is British, she picked up on a lot of the British aspects and brought that into the album, so it’s more of, I’d say, a British style of the type of music.”
The album’s second track, “Away in a Manger,” is one of the songs done in the British style, Fox said.
Track five, “Tonight,” is the only original song on the album. It was written and sung by Stephen Michaud, who also plays piano and harmonium on the album. Michaud’s brother Michael sings with him on the track.
“‘Tonight’ is the gem,” Fox said. “It’s just one of those songs that had to be recorded, and I think that was one of the main reasons we wanted to do this – we wanted to put that in there.”
Freezer, Michaud and their families have been singing many of the songs on the album together for many years, including at the Calvary Chapel Hurricane Valley’s annual Christmas Eve service. The process of recording the album was challenging, Freezer said, but added that she enjoyed the challenge because it pushed the group to practice and fine tune everything. Michaud agreed.
“It was a blessing to be able to do, for sure,” Michaud said. “There’s something really beautiful about the album because there’s something familiar, like you’ll get your ‘Oh Holy Nights’ and ‘Silent Nights’ and things like that, but it also has a departure where you’re going to lean in just a little bit more because there’s something unfamiliar and it’ll make you listen.”
All of the proceeds from the album will be donated to the Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian movement under the umbrella of the Free the Oppressed foundation that aims to bring help, hope and love to those affected by conflict in Burma, Iraq and Sudan.
“Working alongside indigenous pro-democracy groups, FBR trains, supplies and coordinates Ranger teams to help provide emergency medical care, shelter, food, clothing and human rights documentation,” the organization’s website states.
“A Christmas Offering” is available for purchase and listening here. The community is invited to join Grace Bestowed at the free hour-long Christmas Eve service at the Hurricane Fine Arts Center on Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. For more information, contact [email protected].
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