As we prepare to embark upon another Christmas season, leave it to the artistry of singer/songwriter Jennifer Naegele, coupled with her genuine enthusiasm for the true spirit of giving that crowns this sacred holiday, to create an outstanding new musical collection of original Christmas songs, while showcasing their premier at what promises to be the definitive live family concert experience happening this holiday season.
Honored for her talents as both a vocalist and songwriter as the recipient of numerous REVIEW Music Awards, Naegele has just released her newest CD of original material titled Summer Snow Christmas Collection, which was recorded with producer & musician Andy Reed in his Bay City studio.
Featuring sparkling and effervescent takes on traditional songs such as Joy to the World, which segues into a mash-up with the Three Dog Night hit of the same name; to Little Drummer Boy, which features the surprising embrace of a kettle drum rippling below a heavenly articulated vocal chorus - the true surprise and magic of this release are the original songs such as Noel, the Christmas Elf, Cottonwood Trees, This Time of Year, and Noisy Christmas Song, with each of them proving to me that Naegele was blessed with fairy dust instead of ink rolling out of her pen when she wrote these songs. Indeed - when is the last time you’ve heard a new Christmas song, let alone an album featuring half a dozen of them?
In order to properly release this epic collection, Jennifer has pulled together the Makin’ Spirits Bright Christmas Concert & Summer Snow Christmas Collection Album Release, which will be happening on Saturday, December 4th at The State Theatre in Bay City from 7:00 - 8:30 PM. Tickets are only $10.00 with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the charity Girls on the Run Saginaw Bay; and best of all is the fact that Jennifer will be joined by the stellar talents of Loren Kranz, Jake Priest, Andy Reed, Leah Raymond, and guitarist Scott VanDell backing her up. Collectively, the arsenal of this musical line-up will surely charm you with their unabashed love of the holidays and the music that defines it.
When asked about the impetus and inspiration behind her latest musical project, Jennifer explains how in many ways, it’s the story of a lifelong journey. “My Mom always made Christmas really special and magical in my family,” she reflects. “I have a lot of fond memories and music being incredibly woven into each of my holiday experiences. Our Christmas cookie making tradition always began with the same song each year, and I remember all that music from that time with immense fondness as I passed on into adulthood and perform it now with the little ones - it’s a tradition that grows stronger and gains new life as it evolves.”
“I started releasing a holiday single every year beginning back in 2017, she continues. “And when I started thinking of working on a follow-up album to my last release, I felt compelled to capture that magic in the music and share it more wildly, so all-in-all I’ve recorded eight new songs.”
The austere beauty of Jennifer’s Windowpane Song as it transforms into Silent Night, with simple bells and tempos that delicately ratchet up the magic into a sing-a-long round is yet another example of the memorable tracks that populate this release; a quality that Jennifer attributes to the talents of her producer.
“It’s so amazing to record with Andy because I’ll go into his studio with these songs and they become this whole other thing when he is finished,” she explains. “This was such a joyful project to work on and I feel blessed to have him, along with Donny Brown handling drums on several of the tracks. Most of the recordings are just me with my plunkie guitar and the rest is all Andy - each song exceeded my expectations thanks to him. Also, my husband Jake Priest sang harmonies on four of the songs, along with my niece on the third one.”
As for the upcoming concert performance, Jennifer says it dates back go 2019.
“Basically, when I comes to pastimes I have two loves: one love is music and the other is Girls on the Run, which is a non-profit charity that I’m deeply involved with. I’ve always thought it would be cool to weave the two together, so my goal was to release a joyous album and then have the proceeds benefit the charity. Once I got this idea I talked with Mike at the State Theatre, but back in 2019 I was also planning a wedding at the same time. Then the Pandemic hit in 2020, so we moved It out another year, and consequently this concert is actually two years in the making ! Bug whether you are 8 years old of 88 this show will have something for everybody, including audience participation and sing-alongs.”
For those unfamiliar with the Girls on the Run Charity, Jennifer outlines is objectives. “Girls on the Run is a positive youth development program that inspires kids to be joyful and healthy and confident and uses curriculum that incorporates running and walking and physical activities with trained volunteer coaches. They act as guides over a 10-week period during the school year and its designed to make girls a force of good in the community and forge healthy relationships. They focus on the 3rd to 8th grade window when girls confidence starts to decline and they tend to experience bullying during that period. Physical activity also starts to decline around the age of 10 for many girls.”
“Basically, they have a program for girls in 3rd-5th grade and 6th-8th grade and each lesson carries a different topic,” she continues. “We may start with a conversation of the day, such as how to stand up for yourself or others; and then we’ll weave a walk in creatively with the topic. I’ve been involved with this since 2011 and each year we average around 300 girls a year that we serve. We’ve added a spring session and have a fall session, and are also expanding from Saginaw Bay into Arenac, Tuscola, Huron, and Midland, which is a quite a large area.”
Apart from her CD release and upcoming concert, Jennifer continues to perform regularly around the region as both a solo artists and with her husband, Jake Priest, as a duo. “That’s brought a whole new life to the experience of performing live,” enthuses Jennifer. “Jake is an incredible singe and musician and now as a duo it opens up the overall experience to new dimensions.”
To purchase pre-orders of Summer Snow Christmas Collection or purchase tickets to the ‘Making Spirits Bright’ Christmas Concert on December 4th, go to the State Theatre Box Office or Eventbrite.com. $10.00 Tickets will also be available at the door.
16th November, 2023