I have so much to say about this song, and if you are here reading this, that means you actually want to hear what I have to say, so I am going to give you all I got, as it were, and wax poetic. I will not apologize for this.
Also, you should know that all the proceeds from this song between its release and the end of January 2017 are being donated to Doctors Without Borders and their work in Syria because I just can't think of the people there without weeping for them...so this is how we are helping them.
so, without further ado, here is the story of this song's creation.
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, dark at least.
I was super duper preggo with my firstborn, an unexpected bend in my musical path, and it was a rough one. By the time the holidays rolled around, I was DONE.
Sitting at my piano that night, in my delicate condition, I started messing around with voicings and melodies and the words “a babe born to the winter cold” just sprang right out of my mouth.
And then it hit me.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had been PREGNANT.
Whether you believe in it or not, you gotta admit, that story is pretty great. Suspense, scandal, betrayal, miracles, rich people, rednecks…it’s got it all, and because I’ve been interacting with it since my early childhood, it’s a central piece of my psyche.
I sat there at my piano, pregnant as all get out, heartburn getting the best of me, surprised by my shortness of breath as I climbed stairs, fatigued and hungry beyond anything I had ever experienced, and I realized that in this story, Mary was me. I was Mary.
Some years earlier, I had been told by a super flippant OBGYN that I would have a hard time getting pregnant, so, like you do when you kind-of-sort-of want kids and you’re newly married, I went off of birth control thinking I would rather take my (very slim) chances. Then BOOM! A year later, I was knocked up and on tour with a band, sleeping on floors and driving around in a school bus powered by veggie oil. Our world turned upside down by a surprise in the form of a plus sign on a plastic stick.
I began thinking about how Mary’s world would have been turned upside down and how vulnerable she must have felt. Pregnancy can be incredibly empowering, especially when you realize that your body is supporting, hosting, nurturing into existence, another life. But pregnancy can also suck. It can be fraught with insecurities, emotional rampages, physical discomforts, and life-threatening twists of fate, and don’t even get me started on postpartum depression. Being a woman in 2016 can be hard enough, just imagine it, like, 2016 years ago.
That pregnancy for me was cut a bit short, as I went into labor five weeks early. My baby boy was a preemie with a goth rockstar hairstyle and Seth and I were smitten beyond all recognition. That little creature, the alien-looking being with an IV the size of a wallet sticking out of his little cone-head, immediately burst into our hearts like the choruses of a million unsung songs, and as soon as we could, we finished the song I started that winter.
We recorded it, too, that winter, with our baby, Fender, lying across my lap as I played the piano parts. His little baby cry is in the outro of that super lo-fi version of the song. We packaged it up and sent it out to a few friends and family as a christmas present.
I know it is not traditional to re-make your own song, but that’s what we did this month for our Song-O-The-Month. I just wasn’t finished with it for some reason, so we recorded it again, this time with a much wider sonic palette, (string sections! boy’s choir! trombone!) And, oh my, how delighted we are!
This song puts Mary’s experience in the spotlight. I couldn’t help but make her vulnerability mine. Her need for human touch, her crazy love for the little critter she had had sprung on her…all of it became my own, and hers became mine, which, I suppose, is a definition of incarnation.
This song was originally called “Ave Maria,” but we changed the name because we didn’t want it to accidentally get categorized in the classical opera department and forever live in obscurity. “All Was Born Anew” sounded pretty Christmas-y and kind of sparkly, like it was covered in tinsel and twinkle lights.
Happy Holidays to you all. May peace reign in your world, in our world, and may your Chanukah, your Christmas, your Kwanzaa be filled with love.
released December 19, 2016
Produced by China Kent and Seth Kent
String parts written by China Kent
Mixed by Eric Tate
Mastered by Alan Douches
China Kent: Lead Vocals, Piano, percussion
Seth Kent: all Guitars, BGV’s, percussion
Katelin Champion: Drums, BGV’s
Tom Hagerman: Violins, Viola
Brett Harrison: Bass
Steve Gehring: Trombone
Harper Kent: 1/10 size violin
Fender Kent: boy’s choir BGV section
all rights reserved