Local talent abounds on new Christmas CD

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 30, 2002

This year’s CD collection of Christmas songs by local musicians is titled, &uot;Christmas at Home Again,&uot; and features 25 songs performed by over 100 local musicians of all ages and musical styles. David Sutton is the CD’s producer for MN Homegrown Music.

The CD is available, while supplies last, at Andersen’s Hallmark and Hy-Vee Foods of Albert Lea.

The Tennis Sisters sing &uot;O Magnum Mysterium&uot; on the CD.

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&uot;I can remember, as little girls, getting together and singing with Dad,” said Becky Tennis Hanson, trying to explain why music has such a special meaning to her as she listened to the recording she and her sisters performed on the new local Christmas CD. Their parents, Phil and Edith Tennis, also sing on the album, as part of the Hayward Lutheran Congregation accompanying Betsy Paulson on her song, “A Night of Silence.” Upon first hearing that recording, Becky literally needed to wipe the tears from her eyes, “Never mind me; I get like this. This music brings back such special memories of singing together with our church. Hayward is a community with a strong musical tradition and a long line of excellent musicians,” mentioning families such as the Skaars, Frydenlunds, Paulsons, and Schermers.

The Tennis sisters got together over the Christmas holiday last year to practice and record their song for this year’s CD. Barb now lives in Colorado. Mary lives in Duluth. Cindy Tennis Gaudian lives in rural Albert Lea, and has performed in Albert Lea Community Theatre productions. Cindy’s children, Caleb, Laura and Emily Gaudian also perform on the CD on Hollandale Christian School’s rendition of &uot;Go Tell It on The Mountain.&uot; Becky Tennis Hanson is active at Grace Lutheran Church in Albert Lea, where the song was recorded to take advantage of its beautiful acoustic environment.

Two years ago, on the first local Christmas CD compilation, “Christmas at Home,” the Tennis sisters sang the jazz pop song, “Mr. Santa.” This time, they wanted to perform a sacred song, one which has been popular for centuries. “0 Magnum Mysterium” was written during the Renaissance period. It is an extremely challenging piece, sung entirely a capella.

Betsy Paulson is currently involved in concert choir, chorale, caroliers, show choir, and played Gertie Cummings in the fall musical “Oklahoma!” at Albert Lea High School. After Christmas, she plans to work on music with her choir director for a solo/ensemble competition that is held in the spring.

&uot;I love being able to express myself through my singing,&uot; Paulson said. &uot;Every time I open my mouth it is like God is touching me and I thank him for giving me this gift.

&uot;Being able to create beautiful music is truly a gift from God. Creating and sharing this gift with people makes it very special and brings people together.&uot;

She said she chose to sing &uot;Night of Silence&uot; because when she heard it for the first time, she was so moved it literally gave me chills up and down my spine. &uot;I wanted to see if I could instill those same emotions to other people that I had felt. I just thought it was a very beautiful song and being able to involve my church congregation in the recording made it so much more meaningful,&uot; she said.

A member of ALHS Class of 2003, Paulson plans to attend Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. She hopes to pursue a career in music therapy and music education.

Dorothy Justesen is a retired elementary teacher. She said she has been &uot;blessed with talented family members and teachers through the years. I love music’s universal language to unite people.&uot;

Justesen said she chose to sing &uot;Welcome to Our World&uot; after Mary Peterson of The Bible Book Store suggested it as a pretty solo. &uot;I loved the beautiful song with a message of hope in a troubled world,&uot; she said.

Justesen, a retired elementary teacher, and her husband Erik have two grown children and a grandson. She’s had seven years of voice lessons and has sung solos for church, funerals, weddings and choirs and has also sung on television and radio. She also writes poetry, some of which has been put to music.