The year 2010 started with the release of Point of Grace’s first-ever full-length country music album No Changin’ Us and was then followed by a fantastic cookbook called “Cooking With Grace” that was then followed in the late fall by the trio’s first country Christmas album, Home For The Holidays. To say the year was anything but busy would be an understatement.
The women of Point of Grace - Shelley Breen, Denise Jones and Leigh Cappilino - have enjoyed every moment of the experience, particularly making Home For The Holidays, their third holiday album and first since becoming a trio. In this exclusive interview Shelley, Denise and Leigh discuss the album and how much fun it was to create with Stephanie and Nathan Chapman. (Note: Click on the album covers to read reviews).
Matt Bjorke: I last was able to talk with Shelly about No Changing Us earlier this year. How has the reception been to that album since it was released?
Shelley Breen: It’s been really good and we just got off the road and I was reminded how much of a great collection that we have of songs to play in our live shows. We’ve been around long enough to know that what really gives you longevity is your live show and how you connect with the audience so we’ve really enjoyed singing all of these songs and we really don’t feel that there’s one song on the album that’s a throwaway. We also sell lots of CDs after shows so that’s usually a good thing.
Matt: Yeah, that’s always a great thing. Along those lines, you recently won the biggest award at the ICM Awards. How does it feel to win awards like “Entertainer of the Year?”
Leigh Cappilino: Well, that award was quite a real special award for us. Because it’s the country industry embracing us and the music that we make, so this was kind of a pat on the back and maybe a hug around the neck to say ‘we love what you’re doing and we think it’s working.” The other thing that occurred to me the other day was that we’ve been on the road so much the past 18 months or so and it’s as if they wanted to tell us how much they notice that we are working.
Matt: How much fun was it for you to go into the studio to record Home For The Holidays?
Denise Jones: Oh, we had the best experience. We did it a little different than we have ever did before, so we had so much fun. We were thrilled that Nathan Chapman would be producing it but we were even more thrilled at his suggestion to have his wife, Stephanie Chapman, co-produce it. She’s just as talented, in different ways, and they bring a great chemistry together. We actually spent about two-three weeks really fine-tuning how the album was going to come out, figuring out what the harmonies were going to be, the arrangements and so on. We actually spent a few weeks at Shelley’s poolside actually singing parts, learning what we were gonna sing.
Shelley: Yeah, it was two-fold, getting a tan and learning our Christmas music!
Denise: And then we went in to work with the talented musicians and to actually go in and really know what we’re doing allowed the singers to be creative and they go, “oh, I heard that background line and I can do something around it. There was energy there so they felt more of a part of the album than maybe they normally do. So it was a great experience.
Matt: Kind of how it used to be…
Matt: Few fans may realize that artists record holiday albums during the spring/summer. How did you make the studio a festive place while recording the album?
Shelley: Well, you know, on the Christmas album before us, we were really lame and everyone asked us before and literally all we had before all we had was a Christmas wreath scented-candle. It smelled good but it was like, time to light the candle, and that was it. We didn’t go all out so this time we wanted to make it festive and a friend of ours volunteered to bring a lot of her Christmas decorations from home and we had lights and there was a banister going up to the studio at Starstruck and we decorated that and we had a tree and a nativity set.
Matt: Home For The Holidays really seems like an inventive Christmas album, as you previously talked about, along the lines of the great one SHeDAISY released about 10 years ago…
Leigh: Well, we’re a vocal group so the bells and whistles are the harmonies and when you leave those out, the fans get mad and we’re like, what would we do? So for us, it’s not Point of Grace without the harmonies attached.
Matt: and the fans would like to be able to hear each of you, they just don’t want to hear the blend…
Denise: Yes, there are spots of that everywhere throughout the record.
Matt: Is this your third or fourth Christmas recording?
Shelley: It’s our original third one. Do you know what’s crazy? Years ago we recorded about four songs for Hallmark and they do a CD a few years ago with Trisha Yearwood called Home For The Holidays and we didn’t even remember that when we titled this album!(laughs).
Matt: While the classics here are great, my personal favorites are “Candy Cane Lane” and I liked “Labor of Love” too. How did you come to find those songs?
Shelley: Actually, the funny thing about “Candy Cane Lane” is that the guy who used to work for us, named David Lee, a friend of his is a publisher and sent us a huge CD of Christmas songs and we heard “Candy Cane Lane” and asked him to hold it for us and he said, ‘really?’ It popped out to us because it sounded like us. It was demoed in 3-part-harmony.
Denise: It sounded so familiar too…
Shelley: it’s got a sort of vintage feel to it too, sort of Andrews Sisters-esque. So we just loved it and I remember when we told the record company that we wanted to definitely do that, they were like, ‘really? Ok.’ Because it’s kind of ‘kitchy’ song and it ended up being the one that everybody at word plays to showcase the new album. So ‘we know what we’re doing, lol.
Matt: You know, it’s the kind of song that I can vision being played as you’re walking around Walmart or something…
Leigh: Yeah, we’ll let you handle that one, (all of us laugh).
Matt: What are your favorites on the album?
Leigh: Candy Cane Lane…
Shelley…All of the songs…(laughs)
Denise: For me, it’s “White Christmas.” It’s my favorite movie and you think of it the Bing Crosby way, the slower way, and despite Nathan having that musical bed in mind, we really wanted to make it fun and I love how it starts the record.
Leigh: Getting back to my favorite songs on the record, my favorite song is “Home For The Holidays,” the title cut. It’s my favorite for many reasons but I think it’s my favorite because our kids get to sing on it.
Shelley: Yeah and we’re bringing them out on the bus so it will be really fun for us.
Matt: That’s great and I think that about covers it for this interview! Thank you and Merry Christmas.
P:O:G: Thank you and Merry Christmas to you too!