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Fran, Maggie and Vickielee have been creating musical magic together as Modern Angels since 1988. Their versatile vocal arrangements are strongly influenced by folk, pop and jazz.

A fourth founding member, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Mark Geisler, performed with the group through 1996.

Vocals: Frances Leah King, Maggie Stenson, Vickielee Wohlbach, Mark Geisler

Harp, 12-string Guitar, Hammered Dulcimer, Violin, Viola, Cello, Keyboards, Kalimba, Tin Whistle, Finger Cymbals and Stardust Bells: Mark Geisler

Additional Musicians: John Foster (bass), Steve Hazlerig (soprano recorder), John Maloney (soprano & tenor recorders), C. Robb Worthington (percussion)

Produced and Arranged by Modern Angels
Orchestrations by Mark Geisler
Recorded at JB recordings, Seattle, WA & Engineered by Jim Bachman
Remastered at Colorado Sound - Westminster, CO & Engineered by Tom Capek

Album Cover Artwork: Mark Rabe
Modern Angels Photos © 2015 Auston James

This collection of holiday favorites is the group's earliest studio recording, growing out of three years of Christmas caroling around the Seattle area. Originally released in October 1991, the album was remastered in 1999 to take advantage of improvements in digital recording technology. Below are the liner notes from the 1999 remastering:

"We shall find peace, we shall hear the angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds." Anton Chekov

During the summer of 1988 the four of us met while working in a production of the musical Quilters at the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington. Our experience of playing and singing together in the show was so enjoyable that we wanted to continue after we closed at Thanksgiving. As the holidays were upon us, we worked up a selection of Christmas carols and performed at various venues in the Seattle area throughout the holiday season. Our individual careers took us separate ways for much of the next year, but we came together again to sing and perform during the Christmas season of 1989, and once again in 1990. It was during this third season together that our unique and special sound blossomed, and we knew it was time to go into the studio to record an album. It seemed natural to us that our first recording should be a Christmas album. We began rehearsals in January of 1991, with recording commencing in March and final mix down occurring in late May. With great joy and delight we released "Shining Heart" to the world in October of 1991.

In the years since we recorded the album many advances have taken place in digital recording and graphics technology, so we have remastered the CD and redesigned the booklet in this new edition for the coming millennium. Thus once again it is with great joy and delight that we give you "Modern Angels - Shining Heart."

Frances, Maggie, Mark and Vickielee, 1999

Snow/St. Basil's Hymn
Snow: Music by Loreena McKennitt, Lyrics by Archibald Lampoon
Lead Vocal: Fran
St. Basil's Hymn: Traditional Greek
In 1990 Mark came across an album by Canadian musician Loreena McKennitt, who was not then well known here in the United States. The album contained a song called "Snow," which he thought would be perfect for Modern Angels. We liked it and decided to pair it with "St. Basil's Hymn," a traditional Greek New year's carol. Our arrangement of "Snow" was partially inspired by a rare and dramatic "thundersnow" (a snowstorm complete with thunder and lightning) which occurred over Seattle in December of 1989.

The Coventry Carol
Traditional English
This classic English carol has been a favorite of ours since we began singing holiday music together.

Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming
16th Century German Melody English Translation by Dr. Theodore Baker
Each year when we began our rehearsals for our holiday season performances, this was always the first song we would sing. 

Caroling, Caroling
Music by Alfred Burt, Lyrics by Wihla Hutson
We had fun putting together this unusual Celtic-flavored treatment of this song. Included in the arrangement are two other well-known holiday tunes, I Saw Three Ships and Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabella. 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
12th Century Plainsong
All of our vocals on this album were primarily recorded live in one room. We all stood together around a group of microphones to sing, and this method really gave us a powerful, emotional energy with which to interpret these beautiful songs. We were especially moved during this particular take.

What Child Is This
17th Century English Aire
This arrangements blends several musical modes, and also includes a little known verse that Vickielee found which gives the song a joyful ending.

Silent Night
Music & Lyrics by Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber
Truly a rare jewel for holiday music. Whenever we sing this, every soul in the room joins in with full voice and heart.

Light Of The Stable
Music & Lyrics by Stephen and Elizabeth Rhymer
Lead Vocal: Maggie
We first heard this song sung as a slow ballad on Emmylou Harris' Christmas album (featuring Dolly Parton and Linda Rondstadt on harmonies) and we instantly fell in love with it. For our arrangement we decided to spice things up a bit by adding a little Caribbean flavor to the song. We really had a lot of fun with this one.

O Little Town Of Bethlehem
Music by Lewis H. Redner, Lyrics by Phillips Brooke
Another time-honored classic we've been singing together since our first holiday season.

Some Children See Him
Music by Alfred Burt, Lyrics by Wihla Hutson
Lead Vocal: Maggie
A longtime favorite, we love the expression of seeing the baby Jesus through the eyes of all children in the world.

The Borning Day
Music & Lyrics by Fred Kellerman & Fran Minkoff
Lead Vocal: Vickielee
This unusual and little known Caribbean style folk ballad was first recorded by Harry Belafonte some 40 years ago. We fell in love with it and the song quickly became a big favorite for us and our audiences.

Shining Heart (Calon Lân)
Traditional Welsh Hymn
Lead Vocal: Frances
This simple yet profound traditional Welsh hymn speaks to the true and basic meaning of Christmas.

Ding Dong, Merrily On High/ Carol Of The Bells
Ding Dong Merrily On High: 16th Century French, Lyrics by G.R. Woodward
Carol of the Bells: Music by M. Leontovich, Arrangement & Lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky
We had been singing Ding Dong, Merrily On High in concert for several years, but were not quite sure how to effectively arrange it for the album. One night during the recording sessions, Vickielee and Mark went to hear the Seattle Symphony perform a concert of baroque music. It became immediately clear that a baroque flavor suited this song perfectly. We thought it would make a nice contrast to follow this ornamented selection with a simple a cappella arrangement of the Ukranian Carol Of The Bells.

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
Music by John Baptiste Calkin, Words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Additional Music & Lyrics by Mark Geisler
Lead Vocal: Vickielee
Shortly after we started rehearsals for this album the Gulf War began. Everyone was deeply affected, and the idea of "Peace On Earth" seemed a far away dream. The quote from Anton Chekov, heard at the top of the album, became a strong focus for sand is particularly reflected in this song. Frances brought this version of the song with its lesser known melody to the group, and for our arrangement Mark rewrote part of the music and lyrics to emphasize the theme of "We Shall Find Peace." We felt it was a perfect closure for the album.

Contact: modernangelsmgmt@gmail.com · Mailing Address: PO Box 19845, Seattle, WA 98109