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Getting into the spirit 12/2/2014
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For me, November is all about thanksgiving, with a small T. More than the feast, it is the month that sparks reminders of all the good things for which I am so grateful: a loving husband, beautiful children, a warm and wonderful family, fantastic friends and a fabulous career, just to name a few… See what I mean?

A very special good thing I was thankful for this month was an invitation to sing our National Anthem at the Cleveland Cavalier's home game dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness on November 15th. I have friends who are survivors and I strongly believe in precautionary measures in the fight against cancer. You may have noticed that the Pink Ribbon is on my homepage all year round, not just during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that’s why.

Greg, a Producer and Music Liaison to Professional Sports, booked me for the project. We met years ago when he saw me perform with Jim, in Arizona. At the time he asked me if I would ever be interested in singing the anthem and you can guess my reply. When this Cleveland opportunity arose, he thought of me and my support of Breast Cancer, phoned me a couple of weeks prior to the event…and I was in.

On the 15th, Greg met me and my husband for sound check. He and the techies were pleased that my anthem clocked in at less than 90 seconds!

I have had the pleasure of opening basketball and baseball games with “The Star Spangled Banner” in the past, but it is such an honor--and always a cappella--that I can’t help but feel a bit nervous each time. On cue, I walked to my designated spot on the court, amidst the players warming up, with buzzers buzzing, horns honking, loudspeaker announcements blasting and all the ambient noise you can imagine at a 20,000-seat arena. Before I began, an announcer stopped to chat with me, which must have made for one distraction too many: I lost the starting note that I had stowed so carefully in my head! I started a half-note lower than I would have liked, but made it work. I felt good about my delivery and The Cavs beat Atlanta by 33 points! I'd like to think that I had something to do with the win…but perhaps I should mention that LeBron is back in town?

As the month flew by, I continued to write and record material for my upcoming CD. I’m feverishly aiming for release early in 2015.

And then it was Thanksgiving! Dinner for 21 at our house--the day before kicking off Jim Brickman's On A Winter's Night Holiday Tour! I could never have managed without my sister Wendy and her husband, Mike, who took care of the side dishes and carving, and my sister-in-law Wanda, who brought desserts—and all three helped enormously with serving and clean-up. They are the best!!

It was an exhausting day, preparing the meal (I was in charge of the bird, salad, appetizers, and warm rolls), setting up the tables, adding flowers and candles. I stopped to visit with guests when I could, cleaned up after our luscious meal with my aforementioned A team, put the house back in order and finished packing before hitting the pillow at 11:30. I was up at 5am the next morning for my first Holiday Tour flight, to Philadelphia!

Despite the stress of my departure the next day, it was wonderful seeing family members that I'd been out of touch with and meeting a few new partners and friends. A sister and a brother were missing on my side, but we were fortunate to spend a good amount of time together this past summer. Ed and I felt blessed to have my 89 year old mother, some of our wonderful siblings, and an array of nieces and nephews in our midst for the big day.

But back to Day One of the tour! Once I arrived in Philadelphia, I met Tracy and we were driven to Allentown's Miller Symphony Hall by the wonderful Donna, who runs the theatre. This was to be our fourth or fifth time there and all involved are such lovely people.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the rest of our cast and crew: my family for the next month. Jim, Production Manager Cassie, Tour Manager Bryn, Sound Engineer Mark, and Allison, in charge of Merchandisen comprise my road family this year and we are going to rock!

We had an early dinner together after rehearsal and sound check, and hit the stage at 8 pm. The audience was grand and made sure to tell us afterwards how much they enjoyed the show. The perfect opening night!

After the show, we checked into our hotel and I slept a much-needed nine hours. I was a new woman!

The following day, we took off for Wilmington, DE, at around noon, and arrived two hours later. We settled in and prepared for our 8 o’clock show. Instead of our familiar Wilmington venue, The DuPont Theatre, we were billed at The Grand Opera House this year and it was beautiful! During the show, however, my microphone had some issues and I ended up singing " ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas" accompanied by Tracy on violin, but off mic! Thank goodness this was an opera house, where amplification is built into its acoustics. Fans said they had no trouble hearing me, oof. But that's live theatre for you!

After the show, Tracy and I drove two hours to our next stop, York, PA. Another long day! We checked into our hotel, were in bed by 2 am and up at 9:30 to begin warm-ups and get ready for our 11:30 lobby call and push-off for the theatre. We had a matinee at The Strand Theatre, another venue where we have performed many times. The sound equipment behaved for me this time and the show went smoothly. The crowd was fantastic!

After meeting our audience, we packed up for the one-hour drive to our next destination, Baltimore. I checked into my room around 8:30 pm, phoned home and collapsed by 10:30!

You'll have to wait to hear about our concert there, our reunion with our beloved bus and the rest of our December dates until next month!

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Mine was a bit hectic, backed up to the holiday as it was. But what better way to get into the spirit?

Here’s to seeing you on the road! Happy holidays to all!