The Garden City Telegram
12/14/2013
SOUTHWEST LIFE

Local vocals

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Garden City singers come together to create 'Hometown Joy' music CD.

It's never too early to think about Christmas, not even in the dog days of summer.

While most people were sipping Country Time Lemonade, taking a dip in the Big Pool or planning a family vacation, Don Eves had something else on his mind.

"You know, I was just sitting around one day and thought to myself, 'what would it be like to have people in the community sing Christmas songs on a CD,'" Eves said.

So, Eves pitched this idea to David Miller, who has experience in theater and sings with a group, over lunch one day.

"I thought Don was absolutely nuts," Miller said as he laughed.

But the great Aristotle was once quoted saying, "No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness."

"I couldn't believe the idea, but when Don asked me what do I think, I said, 'I'm in.'"

And from then on, Eves went on to find six more talented locals from Garden City to feature on his CD project.

He found Neely Wasinger and Matt Allen at the First United Methodist Church, and he heard Deb Wharton humming in the hallway of another church. Eves then found Rich Taylor, who sings with Miller, and he heard 11-year-old Brayley Frazier in a Christmas music video, as well as Amanda Danahoe.

Eves said everyone picked out the songs they wanted to sing in early June, and then they all had different time frames to begin recording with Randy Wills, the owner of Exceptions Studio in Topeka.

They were done recording by Oct. 1, and hard copies were in hand by Nov. 1.

With the eight artists living in Garden City, Deb Huber titled the CD "Hometown Joy."

"Everyone did a phenomenal job," Eves said.

"It was so fascinating, especially for people who have never been in a recording studio. The community will be shocked to see the talent, and to see that they can sing," he said.

Eves has two songs of his own on the CD, "Colorado Christmas," a Christmas romance song that he wrote last year, and "Mistletoe Rock."

"That was a lively up-tune beat that was a little out of character for me," Eves said.

Eves first began singing when he won a song writing contest in Colorado, where he said he was "scared to death," but has been singing at churches, weddings and funerals ever since.

"Expect to hear a lot of heart when you hear this CD," he said. "A lot of them picked songs that mean something to them. You can hear it in their voice," Eves said.

Whether it was a reminder of family, a favorite song, or a tune they enjoy singing, a little something extra went into every word.

"It was my mother-in-law's favorite song, she was sick, and we were going to lose her," said Deb Wharton, who sang "Count Your Blessings."

"It doesn't matter where you are in life, you have to remind yourself how blessed you really are. It doesn't mean you have to stop dreaming or working hard, but it's about being content with where you are."

Wharton may sound familiar to you because she is the co-owner of Wharton's For Every Bloomin' Thing at 906 N. 10th St.

Wharton, who also sings at a church, said it was on her "bucket list" to record a professional song.

She recalled a time when she used to sing into her hairbrush as a little girl, knowing she would make a hit song and go to Hollywood.

"All of these people have been in my life since the beginning of the process, and now I have new friends that I didn't have before. It was wonderful to be together and hear each other's song," Wharton said.

Others also had sentimental values in their song of choice, like Taylor, who sang "Old Toy Trains."

"It was a song to my grandsons," said Taylor, who is also the owner of Office Solutions. "I dedicated it to them. I played with trains when I was little, and now, they play with trains."

"I was nervous in the recording studio, but it was rewarding and made me completely step outside my box," Taylor said.

The singers said they didn't see each other much while recording in Topeka because of their different time schedules, but they did admit they were not expecting to work as hard as they did.

"I won't stop doing my day job, that's for sure," Allen said, laughing. He sang "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel."

"I've never done anything like that before. I expected to show up and be there for five minutes and ended up recording for hours," Allen said.

One of the singers who embraced the long hours in the studio was Wasinger, who said it was a "no brainer" when Eves told her about the idea.

"It was just a wonderful experience, and I would definitely do it all over again," said Wasinger, who was inspired by Carrie Underwood by singing her version of "Oh Holy Night."

Wasinger has been in musicals, studied theater in college, and leads the worship at the Methodist church.

Miller, who was reached out to first by Eves, said he feels this project will give others the motivation to "do something amazing."

"It takes guts to put yourself out there like that," Miller said, whose song was "I'll Be Home For Christmas," a song his mother enjoys.

Miller pointed out Danahoe by saying she is the "equivalent of a hero."

"I have always been a singer, just not in public," Danahoe said. "I did choir in school and karaoke, but nothing more than that. Doing 'Hometown Joy' gave me the courage to join the church choir."

The youngest of the group, Brayley Frazier, 11, sang "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause."

"I was nervous, but when I heard it, I thought Randy did a great job," Brayley said. "I was very thankful Don asked me to do it," she said.

Each singer had to pay to have their song recorded in Topeka, but it was the message and the meaning of the CD itself that is priceless.

"Hometown Joy" is sold at the Corner on Main, Illusions Hair Salon, Wharton's For Every Bloomin' Thing, and Office Solutions.

"Right now, my favorite singers are the other seven singers on this 'Hometown Joy,'" Eves said. "I'm so proud of it. They had to overcome some fearful things."