O Holy Night
Last summer, I spent some time living on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I was there to better know and understand the newest project of my husband's organization, Simply Smiles. (For those of you who don't know, my husband, Bryan, runs a not-for-profit called Simply Smiles that works to provide bright futures for impoverished children.) On the reservation unemployment hovers around 90 percent. Winter temperatures reach negative 50 degrees. Our Lakota friends living there are plagued by depression, suicides, substance abuse, and a soul crushing lack of hope. One evening, after a community barbecue we were hosting, I put on an impromptu concert for the families. When I finished singing, I was shocked by the response. Before I could even set down my guitar, I was swarmed by curious children with unending questions...How did you write that? Who taught you to play the guitar? How do you hold a guitar pick? Do you know the names of all of the notes? Smiles lit up their sweet faces, and their previously distant eyes suddenly seemed bright and engaged with curiosity. All this from just a few songs. In that moment, music had helped those children transcend their harsh realities. I had a wonderful mid-western upbringing, but it was in that very moment that I saw myself in each of their expressions. I was overwhelmed by the thought of the little kid who is like me. As a five-year-old, I begged to take piano lessons. Since then, music has been my life and my passion. What if I had never had that opportunity to learn, to practice, to get lost in the power of music? The idea to run free music focused summer camps on the Reservation was born. This summer I will be working with Simply Smiles to share the joy of music with children on the Cheyenne River Reservation. This CD is a Christmas gift for you, my faithful fans who have supported my music for over ten years. And it is also a gift to my new Lakota friends who have touched my heart so profoundly with their daily struggles and yet innate hunger for music... Proceeds from this CD will fund the camps. So please, enjoy these Christmas songs knowing that doing so has helped put a guitar in a child's hands for the first time, and that each strum will create a smile. Music enriched my life as a child, and I can't wait to share that joy with these kids. I truly believe that music has the power to cut a path to the bright futures that all of these children deserve. As always, thank you for your support, Kristen.