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The season's sweet sounds
Christmas in June? Nothing new to Julieanne Marie Fry.
The Sequim-based artist found a way to turn that sunshine into Christmas tidings not just once, but twice.
Fry's recently completed, full-length album, "Fireside Christmas Classics — The Complete Collection," started off as an EP in 2011, but after selling out all 200 copies, she decided to complete the full album in 2012.
"It was supposed to be this (full album)," says Fry, who goes by simply Julieanne Marie when she's performing. "I got sick … and I ran out of time. This year was way better."
Fry went back to Sequim producer Jeremy Cays of Cays Productions to fill out the 13-track album that features a number of guest musicians, including Cays himself, Kristi Niclas, Soren Olsen, Sam Yadon, Dillan Witherow, Jason Taylor, Brenda Williamson and Anna Cays.
"I just put (the project) before the Lord and said, 'Do you want me to do this?'"
Classics get a new spin, as Fry adds a chorus to "Joy to the World" while "Away in a Manger" has a new treatment via Cays' spin on an arrangement by Yadon, who originally did the arrangement for guitar.
The new version got Yadon's approval, Cays says.
"It's always good when you use someone else's arrangement and they love it," he says.
Cays, a multi-instrumentalist, filled in many of the parts on the album while concurrently producing each track, but often used his connections with local musicians such as Taylor, a Sequim native and bassist, to add more musicianship to the songs.
"A lot of times I'll get it done if I can and we'll go with that," Cays says, then plays a track from Fry's album. A thumping, acoustic guitar starts "Angels We Have Heard on High" rolling. That, Cays notes, is Soren Olsen, another Sequim native, providing the intro.
"He (Olsen) has a very distinct style that I love," Cays says. "It's always nice to have other musicians to collaborate with."
The pair used Sequim's John Himmelberger to master the new tracks and remaster songs from the EP.
As for a favorite, Fry says it's hard to pick just one. "O Holy Night," she says, is special because it was a challenge to take on, she says.
"It's such a huge song — I'm not Celine Dion," Fry says. After recording the vocals numerous times, Fry got a bit tired of the track, but adds, "Now I love it."
The album as a whole transitions from melodic ballads ("O Come, O Come Emmanuel") to upbeat, groove-based tracks ("The Christmas Song"). "Some Children See Him" is a piece arranged by James Taylor and performed by Emily Funston, Cays' cousin. The final track is an instrumental arrangement by Brenda Williamson of "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus/Be Thou My Vision."
"Fireside," the full version, came together in bits and pieces since June and now both Fry and Cays say it's a joy to listen to — even for those who made it.
"I didn't think about whether it's a good album — I was too busy putting it together," Cays says.
"I like it a lot," Fry says.
The best feature of Julieanne Marie's voice, Cays says, is her distinct falsetto.
"That's where it's at," he says.
That's what the two hope people get a chance to hear as they host a CD release party, scheduled for for 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Joyful Noise Music Center, 112 W. Washington St., in Sequim.
Fry grew up in Sequim but now lives in Federal Way to be closer to her job at World Vision, an evangelical relief and development organization.
"I love it," she says of her work. "Mostly, I talk to people who love what we do."
When it comes to music, Fry says she truly enjoys her Christmas album — but is ready to develop an album with her original songs in 2013.
"I write songs out of life experiences, mostly tough experiences," she says. The hope, she says, is that her listeners can relate on some level and that the music will "lift them up."
In Sequim, "Fireside Christmas Classics — The Complete Collection" is available at The Good Book, Hurricane Coffee and Alder Wood Bistro, and in Port Angeles at Strait Music.
Also, find Julieanne Marie online at iTunes, Facebook and reverbnation.com.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.