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Behind the Music: Point of Grace's "Winter Wonderland"

  • Wendy Lee Nentwig
  • 2005 19 Dec
Behind the Music:  Point of Grace's "Winter Wonderland"

The harmonies of Point of Grace are perfectly suited for a holiday album, so it's no surprise that the group is drawn to Christmas recordings. Their 1999 seasonal offering, "A Christmas Story," was just the beginning. Now they've delivered a new collection of classics that has old fans cheering and new fans lining up to hear them live.

"Winter Wonderland," produced by Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith) is Point of Grace's attempt to create a Christmas experience for others. It started with slots on Grant's and Smith's Christmas tours. Then, when Smith decided to take a break, the group decided to start a new tradition with their own seasonal outing. And what's a Christmas tour without Christmas music?

That's where "Winter Wonderland" comes in. "We were so excited to be able to bring back the warm, nostalgic feeling we all love about Christmas in a CD," explains Point of Grace member Shelley Breen. "We set out to make an album that people couldn't resist playing at all their holiday gatherings."

It also let the group really give their trademark vocal harmonies a workout. "Pop music doesn't always give a vocal group like ours the opportunity to utilize four-part harmony so this is our chance to pull out the stops vocally," explains Denise Jones. "Honestly, its one of the most exciting records we get to make."

"The whole process was extremely challenging part-wise, almost like cramming for your voice juries," adds the group's newest member, Leigh Cappillino. But that hard work paid off. "To hear their songs in all their largeness, hearing how all the eclectic styles work together, it reminded me of why I love this music and this season so much," she finishes.

The vocal arrangements are courtesy of Tim Davis and Michael Mellet with orchestral arrangements by Carl Marsh, infusing new life into traditional Christmas carols and hymns. "Santa Medley" borrows from an old Richard Carpenter medley, with the girls adding three-part harmony inspired by the Andrews Sisters. In fact, that portion of the song was recorded all around one mic, with the group's live show in mind.

For the recorded project, Point of Grace also enlisted the help of their old touring pal Michael W. Smith, who plays piano behind Heather Payne's moving vocal on "All Is Well," a song he co-wrote with Wayne Kirkpatrick. Also lending his talents was John David Webster on the original track "Let There Be Light." "[It's] the most rockin' song on the album and a great juxtaposition of Point of Grace's vocals and John David's rock-star voice," says Breen. And based on how it's racing up the radio charts, others find it to be a perfect mix as well.

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