"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
December 09, 2015
Favorites of Kids, Janice Kapp Perry to See and Hear
by Laurie Williams Sowby

Under the theme of music fit for the family, I am happy to offer reviews of two selections perfect for gift-giving this season.

I am unabashedly making space in this column to apprise readers of a delightful new album, not just because it’s my son’s project, but because it’s good. (Grandparents, listen up.)

The Kentucky Sunbeams is a collection of children’s gospel songs recorded in son Craig’s old Kentucky home (literally a century-plus old) with some of the best folk and bluegrass musicians in the Cumberland Gap. They’re the real thing. Their authentic sound in these unwritten arrangements makes for an original album with Primary songs and old-fashioned gospel tunes done like you’ve probably never heard them before.

A handful of children/grandchildren add their voices to the vocal harmonies of the experienced country singers on several. Lifelong musicians from the area pick and strum on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, mountain dulcimer, and dobro in lively renditions of “Faith,” “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,” “I Often Go Walking,” “Popcorn Popping,” and the mellower “Search, Ponder, and Pray” and “Love One Another.” (I even got to add a few improvised notes on piano.)

To call these arrangements fresh is an understatement.

I’m not just saying it because I’m the mother of the fiddler/recording engineer who turned 20-plus years of classical violin lessons into a style befitting life in the heart of Appalachia. There’s creativity, musicianship and a lot of heart here.

The 14 songs include Primary favorites such as “’Give,’ Said the Little Stream,” “I am a Child of God,” and “My Heavenly Father Loves Me” as well as children’s songs from the general Christian repertoire—“Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” “Peace Like a River,” “Jesus Love the Little Children,” and “The Wise Man,” among others. What a kick!

It’s a captivating collection of tunes for all ages, produced by Craig Sowby and Ken Wilson; recorded, mixed, and mastered by Craig Sowby at Corner House Studio, Middlesboro, KY). Listen to audio clips, download the songs or instrumentals only, get unlimited streaming via the Bandcamp app, or order the limited-edition compact disc ($12) at www.kentuckysunbeams.com.

Another treasure is Covenant’s Songbook for LDS Families: Honoring the Legacy of Janice Kapp Perry. In addition to 18 “best-loved songs” by the legendary songwriter which make up the first section titled “Love is Spoken Here,” the large spiral-bound book contains 28 new hymns based on events in the Book of Mormon. The latter is a happy collaboration between composer Perry and lyricist Bonnie Hart Murray.

It’s really two songbooks in one and includes two compact discs, each with accompaniment tracks for its section. Even better, the book’s sturdy pages contain beautiful color illustrations by LDS artists Greg Olsen, Simon Dewey, Arnold Friberg, and others, making the $25.99 price a real bargain.

The stories behind the songs add much, whether it’s the composer’s tender anecdotes about how a song came to be or the experience of hearing it sung in another language somewhere around the world, or the scriptural account from the Book of Mormon.

Printed music includes melody and accompaniment in Perry’s playable style for such favorites as “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” in the song’s various incarnations, “A Child’s Prayer,” “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus,” and “I Walk by Faith.” The bouncy “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” appears as a two-part song, and there are solo accompaniments for “No Ordinary Man” and “Like a River,” among others.

The Book of Mormon hymns with Murray’s words are written in singable four-part style and keys, both major and minor. Arnold Friberg’s classic illustrations accompany the scriptural telling, making this a “package” easy to use in family settings. Copying is allowed for home use.

Having known the Perry family and sung many of Jan’s beloved songs for many years, I am happy to see her musical legacy preserved in this beautiful songbook.

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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