A Killarney Christmas
Performed and recorded by Killarney Star in Gainesville, FL.
Mixed, mastered and produced with Logic Pro X and a bit of stardust and sandpaper, by Killarney Star.
All songs Public Domain except Star Come Down, written and composed by Robin O'Donovan, ©2021 Killarney Star Music, ASCAP; and Home For Chirstmas, written and composed by Anita Breen, arranged by Robin O'Donovan, ©2021 Killarney Star Music, ASCAP. All rights reserved.
Cover photo and design by Killarney Star, with assistance from Christopher Tucker.
Thanks to Accusonus, Plugin Alliance, iZotope, Vladislav Goncharov, and Techivation, for magic plugins that saved me from that crappy mix I was working on lol.
My deep gratitude to my VIP Starlings for believing in me and for financing this album:
Mary Adams, Doug Burton , A. Claypool, LC Christine, Dawn Lock, Marianne McBride, Christopher McCracken, Silvana Mejia, Bill O'Donovan, Melissa Oliveri, Tammy Payne, Stefanie Schmid, Christopher Tucker, Jean Virnig
THE STORY OF THIS ALBUM AND THE SONGS...
In this music I set out to capture the original spirit of Christmas, with a nod to my Irish heritage... my goal was to share, through my own gifts, the light Jesus brought to the world. The First Noel was my improvisation/ meditation on self forgiveness for a very difficult year from start to finish. I needed to play a lullaby to my inner child who was hurting so much for all the terrible mistakes I made this year. I told her... in a sense, we are all new here. Every day is a First Noel, because Jesus brings forgiveness and healing. We are all learning. Forgiveness is love.
Star Come Down is my first original Christmas song. My dad always told me I could be a famous musician if I wrote a hit Christmas song. Here's to you, Dad. :) The song was inspired by Sting's Gabriel's Message* and the old Appalachian Christmas tune I Wonder As I Wander*. I tried to create a simple folk melody and stage it played by minstrels in a castle banquet hall. I had a thought one day, what if the Star of Bethlehem was actually not just lighting the way, it WAS The Way? The song's dark beginning welcomes the Star (Jesus) to today's world where we seem to be destroying ourselves as fast as we can... but still holding out hope. By the end of the song (as with all my songs), we have met our higher selves and stepped up to the task of saving humanity - inspired by the light of Jesus. I had fun placing Charlie's angels (my three backup voices) at the end so they are echoing from all sides. Another fun note: I tried to emulate the magical shimmering cavern of harp music evoked in Down to the Moon*, a fantastic New Age piece and album by Andreas Vollenweider, an album I've loved since high school.
2022 BONUS TRACK - Home For Christmas - Last year, in 2021 when I put out this album, I completely forgot about this piece I had recorded and released to family-only at Christmas 2020. My mother, Anita (who passed when I was 7), wrote this song when she was young. My aunt Patricia, her eldest sister, asked me to record it. It's a very simple song, and I had so much fun arranging it into a choir piece with harp and strings. I sang all the parts, even the highest soprano ones. Not sure my voice can do that today, it has changed a bit these past couple years. This song evokes Gratitude and Love, the highest frequency feelings, which have the power to change our molecules and heal sickness, doubt, and even war. This is the true spirit of Christmas, and I hope you will celebrate the blessings of your life year-round, including "a loving family, and a house that's good and some firewood."
Cantique Noel / O Holy Night has its roots, again, with the memory of my beautiful, musical mother. Her favorite Christmas alum, and mine, was Joan Baez's Noel*. Joan sings an amazing version in French, and I am incredibly proud that my version stands up to hers. When my mother was little, she and her sisters would gather together and sing Christmas carols, notably O Holy Night, where my mother would literally fall to her knees at that line, for dramatic effect, and set everyone laughing.
The last five songs comprise one of my now "famous" improvisational Christmas mashups. Ever since I was six years old, I'd sit at the piano during December and string together carols and holiday favorites completely by ear. I'd write a list of them and go from one to the other, perfecting the arts of the medley, of improvisation, of variation on a theme, of artful transitions like modulations and capitulations. My dad and my new mom, Bonnie, were my only audience, and they always made me feel like a rock star with their praise! For the past several years as I’ve grown my social media following, I began to play my mashup live online every Christmas. It’s always different songs and always an improvisation, completely by ear. I’ll practice the songs a couple times through to be sure I know the chords and what key I want to play each one in, then I’ll jump into it with joy and see what comes out.
This 5-song mashup was recorded in just two takes (I went with the second one, the first one was like a warmup). It's infused with ethereal mystery, Irish turns and embellishments, Americana and blues riffs, and general joyful mayhem toward the end. It plays like a movie end credits piece, especially the last two songs.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Coventry Carol are mysterious folk pieces that I tried to take to another dimension. Go Tell It On The Mountain is always popular live and an homage to another of my favorite Christmas albums, A Charlie Brown Christmas* by the incomparable Vince Guaraldi. The Holly and The Ivy I play every year much in the style of George Winston’s absolutely magical improvisation on it on his epic album, December*. But this year I wanted to do my own spin on the song, and like Cantique Noel, I have to say I’m extremely proud of how it stands up to his. Joy to the World is the song I have played in every Christmas mashup since I was a kid. I love to add octave scales as "bells" pealing in joyful celebration. In 2021 year it took on a whole new level of meaning, my hands and heart ran away with it. It is my celebration of my triumph over the most difficult year of my life.
* You can hear a lovely playlist of all the songs and music that inspired A Killarney Christmas right here. It’s a fun Spotify Christmas playlist to listen to, in and of itself.
This project was, without exaggeration, the most challenging thing I've ever taken on. Having never professionally mixed or mastered my own music, with a budget of less than $200 and no help (except a few words of very helpful advice from Coco and from Fabio, mentioned above) I learned professional music production on the fly and completed the album in a little less than 12 weeks, while under several enormous deadlines for other things. I am beyond grateful that God gave me the time and the incredible amount of energy needed to work 5-18 hours a day on it (yes- I did) nonstop until I got it right. As right as I could before Christmas.
TIP: For the very best listening experience, click the FREE button to download each song and play in iTunes (in order) with your best headphones or ear buds. ;) This website isn't designed for high-quality streaming like Spotify or Apple and there's a bit of distortion, but if you don't have iTunes it's still good.
For the inspirations, behind-the-scenes stories, and "Easter eggs" of this album, follow me on Instagram: @killarney_star
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