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Father's delight: New 'Lullaby' piano CD combines musicians' love of music and family

Published: Sunday, June 21 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

They are all musicians; all new-age piano men extraordinaire who have delighted listeners around the region and the country for years.

But they are also fathers, which, as Paul Cardall says, "is one of the greatest things God has given to us."

"Nothing gets in the way of being a dad," Jon Schmidt notes. "That is more important to me than anything."

"Being the father of four children has brought me the greatest joy in my life," David Tolk adds. "No amount of musical success can compare with the happiness that comes through my relationship with my children."

Because they see themselves as fathers who are also musicians, Michael R. Hicks says, they know the power that music can have in the lives of their children. "Music can create emotions that last a long time," he says. "We have always utilized it as a unifying force for the family. It creates wonderful bonding moments."

So, it is natural that the men look for opportunities to combine love of family and love of music, which is exactly what they have done in creating a new CD of piano lullabies.

The four produced another CD called "Piano Portraits" several years ago. "That was a lot of fun," says Hicks, who was the instigators of the project." Shortly after that, the Hickses had their first baby, and as the child got older, "it was my wife's idea to come us with a CD that would help everyone wind down and relax at the end of the day. I ran it by the others, and they were all excited."

"Piano Portraits Lullaby" was born. "This," Hicks says, "is music that is soft and peaceful and beautiful, and it's supposed to put you to sleep," he adds with a grin.

The musicians all have somewhat similar styles and, as masters of the same instrument, might seem like competitors, but "we are all really good friends," Schmidt says. "We have a great chemistry."

The men each chose a popular lullaby to arrange and then added a couple of their other songs that fit with the mood and style of the CD.

Hicks chose "Rock-a-Bye-Baby." "We have two children now, and that's one of their favorites." He also did an arrangement of "All Through the Night," a song "that my grandmother sang to my mother when she was first born. I have a mental image of them with my grandmother holding her baby and singing that song."

He also wrote an original song, "Her Mother's Eyes." "I've always thought my wife had beautiful eyes; Leah, our firstborn, has those same beautiful brown eyes. She's 5 now, and she understands that when she blinks those eyes, she melts her father's heart."

Cardall did an arrangement of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," which is one of the songs his daughter loves. He also chose "Jenna's Dance," from his "Christmas Box" CD, "because I always see a little girl dancing to that," and "Embraced," another song that expresses his gratitude for family.

Schmidt arranged "Long, Long Ago." "My parents were German immigrants, and I grew up with that song." His other songs are "Solace" and "Cherished Moments," which also seemed to fit the spirit of the CD, he says.

Tolk did an arrangement of "Brahms' Lullaby," because, "to me, that's the most famous, magical one of all. We had to have it on the CD." His "Whose Woods These Are" is a tribute to the Robert Frost poem and is "peaceful, reflective music." "For Lisa" is a tribute to the mother of his children "and has a nice lullaby feel as far as meter and instrumentation."

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