I need to tell you about a new album, that is a little bit different from what we normally do here at Country’s Chatter. This time of year, we always tell you about Christmas albums that our favorite country artists are putting out. Today, we are going to tell you about a Christmas album which is the debut album for a group called The Ellas. The music is all original. The music is not country, though you will learn that the members of this trio have written with (and for) many of country music’s biggest stars. So, what sound are you going to be hearing when you pop this great CD into your player? I’ll give you some hints—Doris Day, Jo Stafford, Kay Starr, Rosemary Clooney, Joni James, Helen O’Connell…. Big Band Era!
While the music on this album isn’t country, it is definitely wonderful! We’ve been listening to it here at Country’s Chatter for the past week or so. If we weren’t ready for Christmas before we started listening, we are now! Do you remember the music from the Big Band Era? Remember that sound? It was a great sound, it still is a great sound – and that is the sound these three have recreated with the original music in their new album, The Ellas Merry & Bright.
I’m going to start by telling you about Jennifer Denmark, Emily James and Melissa Fuller – the three young ladies who make up this group. They have very interesting backgrounds, a lot of experience working with some of country music’s biggest stars, and a sound that will not only bring back memories to many, it will also spawn a whole new appreciation for the big band sound to a new group of fans.
San Diego-native Jennifer Denmark, who co-wrote the Hunter Hayes single “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” with Dave Brainard and Hayes, has been performing in trios since she was nine years old. Her love of big-band era music stemmed from dinner at a steakhouse when she was 15 years old. “I remember hearing Ella (Fitzgerald) playing through the restaurant, and I was so enamored with her voice I had the waitress go find out who was singing.” By noon the following day, Jennifer owned every Ella album Tower Records had on their shelves.
She has had cuts with artists such as Kelsea Ballerini, Florida Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes, Jason Mraz and Aaron Carter.
Emily James hails from Biwabik, Minnesota. Her love for big band came from her grandmother, who died only months before she was born. “Everyone tells me I’m so much like my Grandma Barbie,” James says. “Even though we never met, big band era music, especially Ella Fitzgerald, has always made me feel a connection to her.” After studying at Berklee College of Music, Emily moved to Nashville, where she writes for Liz Rose Music/Warner-Chappell. Her songs have been recorded by Reba McEntire, Sara Evans, Jana Kramer, Cassadee Pope, David Cook and more. She has had several songs featured on the hit ABC drama Nashville, including “Love Like Mine,” sung by Hayden Panettiere and featured on the gold-selling soundtrack.
Prior to starting her career as a songwriter, Wyoming-native Melissa Fuller was on the road performing at hundreds of rodeos, county fairs, festivals and benefits, opening for her idols and headlining her own shows. After living and writing country music in Nashville for a few years, she found herself incorporating the big band jazz and pop melodies she’d grown up listening to into her story driven lyrics. “I had such a rich upbringing of incredible music – from the Glenn Miller Orchestra to every Rat Pack and Nat King Cole record I could get my hands on.” She began writing with kindred spirits who also had eclectic tastes in music. “When Jennifer and I wrote for the first time, we were singing these jazz runs and finishing each other’s melodic thoughts in harmony. It was incredible, and joining the trio was a dream come true!” Melissa was chosen by the Recording Academy and Hitlab as an Emerging Artist Competition Finalist during the 55th Grammy Awards and has had songs recorded by Katie Armiger and Ella Mae Bowen.
Below is the press release we received with our preview of the new music. Read this – and get ready for Christmas!
When The Ellas say they’re delivering new Christmas music, they mean new Christmas music. This trio of hit songwriters – Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller and Emily James – are set to release their debut album, Merry & Bright, November 6, 2015 on Scat Pack Records. The 15-song collection of completely original songs celebrates the holidays with a fresh, big band sound that harkens back to the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney.
“Our biggest goal for this album was to write Christmas songs that people can relate to,” said founding Ellas member Jennifer Denmark. “Nobody actually roasts chestnuts on an open fire anymore. They always say to write what you know. So we tried to hit home with our favorite holiday traditions: sending greeting cards, baking Christmas cookies, kids waiting up to try to catch a peek at Santa. Merry & Bright is modern Christmas set to timeless melodies that make you feel like you’ve heard these songs your whole life.”
The majority of the cuts on Merry & Bright were produced by Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer Chad Carlson (Taylor Swift, Jewel, Chase Rice, Hunger Games soundtrack) with “Bakin’ Cookies” and bonus tracks produced by Grammy Award-nominee Dave Brainard (Brandy Clark, Jamey Johnson, Jarrod Niemann, Ray Scott.)
The catalyst for the trio, which was originally named the North Pole Patrol, came after Jennifer began writing original Christmas songs. Her love of the holidays and the desire to write and record additional songs led her to form the trio. Hit Christian group Point of Grace recorded Denmark’s “Candy Cane Lane” based on North Pole Patrol’s tight, three-part harmonies and won a Dove Award for “Christmas Album of the Year” in 2010. A recent name change to The Ellas was decided upon both to pay homage to one of their favorite singers, Ella Fitzgerald, and to open the door to record and release non-holiday music in the future.
The focus track single, “Bakin’ Cookies,” will be released to several radio formats, and fans can add Merry & Bright to their Christmas collection at iTunes, Amazon, iHeartRadio, Spotify and numerous other online outlets. The Ellas will be filming a music video for the single, which will begin airing nationally in November.
Merry & Bright track listing:
1. “Chrisamas” – (Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller, Chad Carlson)
2. “Naughty List” – (Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller, Tim Jackson)
3. “Christmas in New York” – (Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller, Sarah Sadler Butler)
4. “Bakin’ Cookies” – (Jennifer Denmark, Dave Brainard, Briana Tyson)
5. “I Want it All This Year” – (Jennifer Denmark)
6. “Merry & Bright” – (Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller, Chad Carlson)
7. “Heart is Home for Christmas” – (Denmark, Fuller, Emily James)
8. “Decemburr” – (Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller)
9. “Gonna Catch Santa” – (Jennifer Denmark)
10. “Christmas Morning” – (Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller, Keesy Timmer)
11. “Dashing in the Snow” – (Jennifer Denmark)
12. “What Blue Christmas Means” – (Jennifer Denmark)
13. “Callin’ for Snow” – (Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller, Sarah Sadler Butler) –
14. “Kiss Another Year Goodbye” – (Jennifer Denmark, Melissa Fuller, Emily James)
Bonus Track: “Candy Cane Lane” – (Jennifer Denmark)
I hope you will head over to their Facebook page. They have videos there, and you can hear . a short clip of Christmas in New York, see a video of a photo shoot, watch a live performance of Candy Cane Lane, and watch other videos they have posted there. Follow the girls on Instagram, and on Twitter @theellamusic. We hope you are already following Country’s Chatter on Twitter. If you aren’t, we’d love to have you. You will find us @countryschatter.
Have a fantastic Friday, and a wonderful weekend!