SALT LAKE CITY — Utah musical artist Cherie Call can trace some of the origin of her recent Christmas extended play release titled "A Merry Little Christmas" to a children's album she previously collaborated on.
A two-time finalist in the prestigious Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk songwriting competition turned to crowdfunding in 2016 to produce an album of children’s songs titled “The Buddy System” with fellow artist Lyndy Butler.
“That album came about miraculously,” said Call, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I’d never wanted to write and record children’s songs before. I didn’t know Lyndy that well. We’d met a couple of times at events at which I presented. She contacted me about doing some co-writing with her, but I had a gut feeling she was going to ask me to do an entire album with her.”
As Call suspected, Butler asked her to work on the album as a duo. She said that the songs on “The Buddy System” contain messages that a mother would say to her child. There are also fun songs the family can dance around to, but they’re not Barney or The Wiggles dance-around type songs.
The Butler-Call songwriting duo earned the grand prize in the children’s category at the 2016 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for the song “The Astronaut and the Mermaid.”
That project worked so well that Call turned to crowdfunding again earlier this year for her Christmas release.
“What I love about crowdfunding is that I can offer people something in return for their willingness to contribute to the project," Call said. "A successful campaign like this allows me to recoup some of the production costs upfront.”
The four original songs on the upcoming release include one titled “All About the Baby” that espouses that love is the best gift anyone can give to Jesus Christ. “Christmas Crush” is a tune that sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1950s.
Yet another, titled “How It All Began,” is based on a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in 1976 when he was commissioner of church education, that points out that all the good things about Christmas were started with a small family in humble circumstances.
Call got personal with the fourth original song titled “Come Home.” Her husband, Joe, does sound work for Michael McLean’s “The Forgotten Carols” shows and is gone from home almost every day during the Christmas season.
“We love the shows,” she said, “but the kids and I are very happy and grateful when they finish because we get dad home in time for Christmas.”
She also has arrangements of “Away In a Manger” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
“The project’s actually called an EP,” Call said in a phone interview from her home in Utah. “It’s a collection of six songs, unlike an album, which has 10 to 12 songs.”
Call is no stranger to recording Christmas music, having released a holiday album titled “Gifts” in 2006. The songs from that album are played on Utah radio during the holidays, and she performs them live at local mini-concerts.
Call recorded three albums on the Shadow Mountain Records label from 2001 to 2004, including "The Ocean in Me," "He Gives Flowers to Everyone" and "Beneath These Stars." She has also released three other albums and personally funded some of her past releases.
Scott Wiley, Tyler Castleton, Ryan Tilby and Brett Raymond provided song arrangements. Most of the EP, which was released Nov. 8, was recorded at June Audio in Provo, with additional recording done at Titan Studios in St. George.
Call found she loves the freedom she’s found as an indie artist.
“I know the hard-copy CD is dying,” added Call, who, as a member of the band Lower Lights just wrapped a week of holiday concerts at Salt Lake's Kingsbury Hall, “but I figure there are still people who like to give something tangible as a Christmas gift.”
She said that if you’re a fan of local artists, crowdfunding might be the best way to keep them recording.Comment on this story
“This is the way music artists have to get it done now,” Call said of the trends she's observed in the industry. “People don’t buy music anymore. They don’t see the value in it because it kinda seems like it’s all for free. They don’t realize that it still costs a lot of money to make music these days.”
During her recently concluded crowdfunding campaign, Call offered house concerts and commissioned songs as rewards for contributing at certain levels. She also offered advice to music artists who are considering crowdfunding as a way to finance projects.
“Don’t apologize for turning to crowdfunding,” she said. “Understand that most people who know your music want to contribute. Remain positive throughout the campaign. Negativity has a tendency to drive potential contributors away.”