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Born in Rochester New York, raised, baptized and confirmed in the Missouri Synod and Evangelical Lutheran church, Miss Lewis attended a private Catholic high school in South America and continues to pursue her faith from several angles. Miss Lewis has worked in various capacities within the media, both electronic and print. Artist, marketer, business owner and writer, the past ten years have been spent working on increasing understanding between Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
In addition to the Storybook Advent Calendar Series Miss Lewis has also written Laid Off Now What?!? Thriving Financially through Unemployment, two adult fiction compilations, over 1000 articles on current events, politics and human rights for a number of publications under her name and others and her latest project is the LEEP Calendar: Lewis Event, Editorial and Promotional Calendar.
Through her work, Miss Lewis has spent time living in the Middle East and the UK. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Illustrations, photography and original art for Storybook Advent were created by Miss Lewis.
Her LinkedIn Profile is www.Linkedin.com/in/lauradawnlewis.
Born and raised in Southend, Essex, Michael played a large part in the Southend music scene, working in bands that played around Essex and London as well as venturing out solo. He had a musical staged and set up his personal recording studio from which he worked with solo singers and produced music for short films. After a move to Devon he got back into live music and toured the UK, Holland, Belgium and Ireland. It was while on tour in Ireland that he decided to move there and now resides in County Donegal. He has composed many songs in many styles - rock, pop, country, ballad - as well as musicals, instrumentals, music for film, electronica and choral pieces.
"There is something about Christmas Carols that evokes a completely different feeling and emotion to other music. They stir up waves of nostalgia and happiness, and instil a sense of peace and goodwill that comes with the season. In studies, it has been found that the Mozart Effect makes children more intelligent, perhaps we should play Christmas Carols every day to make the world a better place.
When I came to arranging the carols, I wanted to play them in such a way that they could be used in a variety of settings: to be able to sing to them, to be able to sit down and listen to them or to have them as soft background music. So, they couldn’t be too busy, couldn’t be too simple and couldn’t be too intrusive.
There was also the imagery to bring across, as many carols paint pictures in the mind. My experience in writing for film and stage paid off in this sense.
I needed to capture the essence of the carols, the message and meaning in each one, as well as consider variations on the tunes. Some have many verses, and to play a verse the same over and over may make for good singing but not necessarily good listening. This all involves the moving of the tune though the octaves and crossing of hands and other little tricks of playing. I was asked if I had double-tracked the recordings, but no, they were all played straight.
Then there was the challenge of making them sound contemporary but keep a feel of their origin, and with the ages of the carols spanning over many centuries, I needed to keep within the boundary of their style, be it Gregorian, Elizabethan, Victorian, but combine soft jazz with them, or a certain style of playing, to bring them ‘up-to-date’.
It was an exciting challenge to record forty carols. Even trying to name forty carols is a feat in itself, so I had to research to make up the quantity. For Volume 1, my partner in creating Storybook Advent Laura D. Lewis played a large part in putting together the list since I wasn’t that aware of the carols that are popular in America, and it is surprising how different they are from English traditional carols.
Michael Brech, the artist on the Storybook Advent Carols Collections.
For Volume 2, I concentrated on English and European carols. Discovering carols from France, such as Patapan and Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella, was a delight, as well as finding a very overlooked English carol, Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning. In my opinion, this carol is every bit as beautiful as Oh Holy Night on Volume 1. Again, a carol that is very popular in America, but hardly known in England.
For the one American carol on Volume 2, Away in a Manger, there was the thought of swapping with the version on Volume 1, the Murray composition being more popular in America, but it is becoming widespread in England and I felt that it introduced something just a little different to the ‘English’ version of the Storybook Advent Carols. Not only that, but also the Kirkpatrick version fits so perfectly on Volume 1 and delivers a touching, emotional moment.
I am certain you will enjoy these carols as much as I have enjoyed arranging and performing them, and that they will bring a gentle warmth to your Christmas."