Welcome to the sixth party in this series and today my guests are the amazing William Price King, American Jazz singer, crooner and composer who has been providing the music content for Smorgasbord for over four years. Joining him today is friend but also new and very welcome collaborator, who has a background in broadcasting and music, Annette Rochelle Aben who will be writing her own Numerology column from the New Year. Also with a wonderful career in both publishing and the music industry, is my third guest, Jan Sikes.
All will be sharing their most cherished Christmas memories throughout today’s post.
My Christmas memories…
In early 1965 a film was released in the UK that was to be a turning point for me and the start of a lifelong crush on the lead actor. Christopher Plummer was 36 at the time that The Sound of Music became available to the general public and not just musical theatre goers. I was just twelve but I saw myself as Maria from that moment on. I saw that film three times in the next 18 months and I could rattle all the songs off at a drop of hat including The Lonely Goatherd with requisite yodelling.
My ardour did not diminish, and when we returned to Portsmouth in 1967, I managed to coerce a school friend into forming a double act. At age 14 we were encouraged to reach out to the community at Christmas, and undaunted by the prospect of performing publicly, my friend and I dressed ourselves in replicas of the film costumes. Actually my mother was missing a pair of old curtains, so we did not stray too far from the script…and we offered our services to three old people’s homes in the local area.
We would turn up after school in the weeks before Christmas and join the residents for a cup of tea and a piece of cake before performing our repertoire of songs from The Sound of Music. I must admit that a couple of songs in and there was a fair bit of nodding off…not to be outdone I would burst into The Lonely Goatherd and it served to enliven the audience who would look around bemusedly at the sound of a strangled cat in between the verses.
I did however have a ‘moment’ in my early 40’s. We were on holiday in the French Alps one summer and had hiked up one of the surrounding mountains. We reached a plateau that was dotted with alpine flowers and after we had consumed our packed lunch and with no one else in sight, I took my chance. I stood in the middle of the meadow and gave the title song as loud a rendition as I possibly could. I threw my arms wide as I finished and turned in a slow circle to receive the applause of my husband, only to find that a large group of Japanese tourists had just reached the edge of the plateau and were snapping photographs and clapping madly…I think they thought that it was especially laid on for their lunchtime entertainment. A quick descent was called for in the opposite direction.
As my first guest is William Price King it seems more than appropriate to get the party started with one of his own performances. We will meet him in person a little later.
My thanks again to Why Christmas for their detailed information on the traditions around the world. The Falkland Islands are in the South Atlantic Ocean about 300 miles from the east coast at the bottom of South America. They are a British Overseas Territory even though they’re about 8,000 miles away from the rest of the UK. There are only around 3,000 residents of the Islands with most living in the capital Stanley, and considering the land mass occupies around 4,700 square miles, it is hardly over populated.. But there 150,000 sheep.
It is summer in the Southern Hemisphere and being British the Islanders share many of the traditions with the UK. It is very windy which means few trees, but artificial ones are on display. As you might guess roast lamb is the most likely Christmas dinner and it is very expensive to fly turkeys in from South America.
As at home, pantomime is very popular and children on the more remote parts of the islands get their presents flown in from the capital. Carol singing takes place under a ‘Whale Bone Arch’ constructed from the jaw bones of two blue whales… and on Boxing Day the horse races attract punters and spectators from all over The Falklands.
Time now to meet William Price King and find out about his most favourite Christmas gift ever..His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour. You can find out more about William and his career in his latest Music Column
William shares his most treasured Christmas memory...
It was Christmas Eve. Before starting the day I called our youngest daughter who lives in Germany to wish her good luck for her performance as Rosina in “The Barber of Seville” that evening and to get confirmation that she and her boyfriend were still planning to celebrate Christmas at his parents’ home in Düsseldorf. She answered affirmatively and said that they were looking forward to it as they had done in the previous years. We spoke for a moment and then I wished her a good show and said we would call them on Christmas.
I finished decorating the tree and put the presents in place. Wakanda, our cat, took quick possession of her Christmas box and happily installed herself under the tree. In the meanwhile my wife and I continued preparing for the big day and began making the final touches, reminiscing over the good old days when we had the entire family at home for Christmas. Those days were gone.
Around midnight we went to bed happy that everything was ready for our Christmas celebration in anticipation of seeing the grand kids frantically open their gifts. Around 6 a.m. my wife woke me up and said that she heard someone walking in the house. I told her it must have been a dream, as we live alone. Plus, why would Santa be walking around in our house at 6 a.m. on Christmas day, right? My wife insisted it wasn’t a dream. She really was frightened and believed that someone had broken into the house. A bit annoyed I lurched downstairs, opened the living room door and there stood our opera singer with her boyfriend. “Merry Christmas!” they shouted gleefully. My mouth dropped in disbelief. I pinched myself to make sure it wasn’t I who was dreaming this time around. I knew that life could yield unexpected surprises but this one beat them all. It was the first time that she had come home for Christmas in 10 years, a gift from the stars, and the best Christmas gift I ever had.
Definitely a wonderful Christmas memory and I can imagine that the celebrations were fantastic.
I spent some time wondering what William might enjoy for his Christmas gift… and I hope that he will enjoy something from his home town. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with O Come O Come Emmanuel. Courtesy of Thomas Trimborn
The Sixth day (30th December) is dedicated to St Egwin of Worcester. Egwin was of noble if not royal blood and was born in the late 600’s and became a monk. Because of his lineage the royal court and hierarchy in the church pushed for his elevation to Bishop in in 693. He had strict moral code and was a benefactor for the poor and orphans. He was also very strict with worshippers and clergy alike and became increasingly unpopular when he began insisting that marriage vows should be taken seriously and that the clergy should be celibate… In the end tired of the resistance to his firm stance on these issues he took himself off to Rome to get the blessing of the Pope.
A number of ‘miracles’ occurred on the route and having received vindication from the Holy Father he returned to Evesham. He lived until between 917 and 920 bringing about many changes including founding Evesham Abbey which was one of the most important Benedictine Monasteries of medieval times. He died and was buried there but all was destroyed in the purges in the 16th century.
Six geese a laying – some say this symbolises the six days of creation but most assume it was a continuation in the bird theme from the Four Colley Birds, Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves and a Partridge in a Pear Tree…..
Time to meet my next guest, the delightful Annette Rochelle Aben – Annette has an attitude of gratitude that she spreads around on a daily basis… Annette’s Blog and also by interviewing authors on radio Tell Me A Story with Annette Rochelle Aben | The Magic Happens (TMH)
Over the years, Annette has been blessed with having both hobbies and jobs that required her to write. This resulted in her winning the admiration of peers and industry professionals alike. Publication lead to awards, which provided even more encouragement and now, Annette Rochelle Aben is a #1 Best Selling Author! These days, Annette writes poetry books, coaches others through the writing of their books, and edits articles for the digital magazine The Magic Happens.
In the New Year Annette will be joining the team here with her own column Universal energy – Numerology and I am delighted to welcome her to the blog.
Annette shares her most treasured Christmas Gift
Seventeen years ago, at our Christmas gift exchange, I opened the lovingly wrapped package from my nephew Danny, to find a statue of a black cherub sitting on a cloud. I choked back tears because I knew he originally planned to give it to my mother, but she rejected the gift because Angels couldn’t possibly be anything other than white you know.
As I drove home, I hit an ice storm and what would have taken me 45 minutes, took me over 5 hours. The whole way, that Angel sat on my dashboard. I made it home safely.
Very difficult after that very special memory to find a gift that compares for Annette, but knowing her love of angels and music.. I hope that she enjoys one of my favourite tracks In the Arms of an Angel by Sarah McLachlan
You can find all of Annette Rochelle Aben’s books: http://www.amazon.com/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY
Here is a selection of Annette’s books
A recent review for A Tanka Picture Book
Annette Rochelle Aben writes the most beautiful and heartfelt poetry, most frequently in the form of tanka and haiku verse. Annette bares her thoughts, feelings and soul to the world with her writing and enables you to experience her joy and delight at living with her. One identifying feature of Annette’s poetry is that she appeals to all five of the senses. I frequently find that poems focus on the visual, what the writer sees, but not that many poets manage to capture the smell, sound and touch of life in quite the way Annette does. One of the poems in this book that filled me with delight is this one: We found paradise Filled with rolling hills of green Houses so cozy Paths strewn with flowers fragrant Watercolor painted skies
Over the next few days I will be sharing some of the wonderful Christmas delicacies that appeared on Carol Taylor’s Vegetarian Christmas Menu
Ricotta, Blackberry and Walnut Toasts.
• 2 tbsp of maple syrup
• 150 gm blackberries
• 4 slices of your favorite bread I used sourdough
• 100 gm soft ricotta
• 1 tbsp toasted walnuts
• A few mint leaves
- Warm the maple syrup in a small pan and add the blackberries cook for 3-4 mins gently squashing a few blackberries with the back of your wooden spoon.
- Toast the bread.
- To serve spread some ricotta over the toast then spoon over the warm syrup and fruit, top with your toasted walnuts and a few mint leaves.
And now my final guest today who also has a wonderful life of music and love. Jan Sikes is an Award Winning Author, screenwriter and songwriter. She began her writing career as a young girl. Her first work was a gospel song. She had an uncle whom she loved dearly, but he was an alcoholic and his drinking caused such family discord that at times, resulted in him being banished from their home. So, she wrote a song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus. That is her first memory of feeling the passion deep down to her toes for writing and for music.
And here is Jan’s most favourite Christmas gift of all time
The best Christmas I can remember is 2003. Rick was just finishing the recording of his new music CD and he had a jacket monogrammed for me with the album cover on the back and my name in the front. I couldn’t have been more surprised or proud! That year all of our children, my mom and aunt came to our house for the celebration. There was an abundance of food, laughs and love. It is a sweet memory.
Another tough challenge to find a gift for Jan following that heartfelt memory… but I hope that this will make her smile and remind her of the first song that she wrote for her uncle. A wonderful Gospel Christmas.
Featuring the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra again with The Pointer Sisters and Adam L. McKnight..- Amen courtesy of Adam L. McKnight
You can find all of Jan’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Sikes/e/B00CS9K8DK
Website: https://www.jansikes.com/ –
One of the reviews for Home at Last
Almost Home is the third book in this series and every bit as exciting as the first two books! Mrs. Sikes lets us into their lives, finally lived together, and their love that continues to grow! Ms. Sikes has written each novel with such depth of emotion that I felt virtually every feeling along with Darlina as I was reading! I spent plenty of time with tissues in hand! The pace was very steady and my attention never wavered. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t reach the end of each book fast enough to move on to the next!
It was a mesmerizing story from beginning to end! The story of Darlina (Jan Sikes) and Luke (Rick Sikes) is a love story for the ages and fraught with challenges seemingly every step of the way. This series is made more poignant for me by the fact that it is the true account of two people, fictionalized for the benefit of the author! I give Almost Home by Jan Sikes five cups of steaming hot Room With Books coffee and I highly recommend you read it!
Now time for something to drink…..Whilst it is customary to see cranberries in a sauce on the Christmas Dinner Table, you can also enjoy in a cocktail during the holiday period. Cranberries have a great many health benefits…. which might be slightly diluted when adding alcohol.. but here is a video that will give you a recipe to try.
Thank you for dropping in today and tomorrow my guests are Jessica Norrie and Marjorie Mallon… I hope you will join us.. thanks Sally