Looking back at 2023, I am amazed at how much happened! We had huge personal milestones and exciting career opportunities! We had heart-breaking times and moments of beauty! And the balls started rolling on some new adventures…

Mom’s Memorial

We ended 2022 with the Celebration of Life for my mother, Polly Joan on Dec 29th in Ithaca NY with my husband Ralph, twins Caleb & Hannah, step father Charlie, my brothers Chris (and wife Susan and nephews Matthew and Mark) and Gary Gibbons (with wife Lisa and Mom Elisa), cousins Jenny, Greg & Soleil, Alan, Soledad and Bianca, Phil, Aunt Jane and many friends. It was heart-breaking and beautiful… Got to jam with my family and talk about why Mom was amazing. (I guess I spoke a LONG time- but it was a meaningful and carefully crafted speech!) I miss her soooo much!

Cancun, Mexico

After that we had to escape to the beach! Ralph and I took those college aged twins to Mexico for a week to a resort! We went snorkeling, cave exploring, zip-lining, island hopping and much more! We ate lots of good food… especially those little fried desserts… Chiros! – and of course we got lots of sun! But Mom had to find a place to sing and make it all a tax write off and wouldn’t you know, Ralph and I got invited to sit in at a jazz club on the beach. Sweet moments indeed!

Goodbye Alan Roscoe

In February we lost our dear friend Alan Roscoe to multiple cancers. He was a fellow worship leader in our church and a family friend for many years. Ralph and I directed the music for his memorial and grieved with his dear wife Anne Marie and kids Brittany, Nicole and Adam. We miss you Alan!

Marriage Retreat

Just a week later the pendulum swung back to joy as we attended (and I sang at) our annual marriage retreat in Portland, ME. As a bonus we got to connect there with our sweet daughter Hannah and her friend, Chaos, for a meal, too! In past years Ralph has run the sound and/ or we had led coffee house entertainment, sang love songs and more. It is always so edifying to learn more ways to grow our marriage- and usually a blast! I am so grateful to be blessed this way most every year! We look forward to the 2024 marriage retreat!

Nursing Home Gigs

Every month (and sometimes more) I have continued to sing at local nursing homes. Haverhill Crossing has continued to invite me every second Sunday to lead a worship concert for their residents. It is such a joy to sing for them; they are always so appreciative! And I feel I can really give my heart in songs, stories and scripture as I lead many hymns for them to sing along with, mixing in occasional originals or thematic classics that fit the time of year (like patriotic songs for Veteran’s Day or Love songs for Valentines Day etc!). I expect to continue this marvelous tradition through 2024! Other assisted living places hire me to sing musical theatre or classics from the 40’s-70’s.

Berklee Worships Concert

2023 was a year of directing lots of cool concerts at Berklee and leading LOTS of worship. While I love teaching all my private students at Berklee, I especially love directing concerts! The Berklee Worships Concert was super cool because it was a new kind of student concert at Berklee. There have been lots of Gospel inspired music events- but this was the first Contemporary Worship Concert! Jim Peterson was my music director and Ralph also played keys. I directed 14 student vocalists singing leads and back ups. It was a LOT of work and a magnificent labor of love! I also played acoustic guitar and sang. I was so proud of all my student vocalists! We have booked Berklee Worship 2: Taking it Higher for Thursday night April 18th, 2024 in the Berk Hall at Berklee- Don’t miss it!

Above is Bass player Lionel Girardeau, Ralph, Me and lead guitarist/ music director, Jim Peterson. We were all playing on this show- and we were students together at Berklee in the 1980’s!

Left to right: Lionel, Hannah, Chloe, Julie, Anyeli, Jim, Terence & Nicholas

Visits to Mama/ Oma Gisela in Roanoke Rapids, NC

Ralph and I and sometimes Hannah and Caleb visited Ralph’s Mother Gisela 3 times in 2023… March, July and December- New Years. Gisela is 96 years and a wonderful, loving, generous, faithful woman of God. Now that travel has gotten very difficult for her, we are trying to visit her often.

We celebrated my Dad’s 90th Birthday! (and the twins’ 19th)

My Dad Paul Gibbons turned 90 on April 5th, 2023! (Just after Hannah and Caleb turned 19 on April 1st). We got Hannah down from Portland and grabbed Caleb and drove up to meet Dad and Diane for a special meal to celebrate! I love my dad so much! Later Diane threw him a big party with a family jam that even included cousins Greg, Jenny and Soleil! It’s difficult to watch our parents slow down! But since my Mom died, I am making sure to enjoy my Dad as much as possible!

Near actual birthdays!

Left to right: Gary Gibbons, Ralph, Me, Chris Gibbons, Jenny Huang-dale, Soleil, Greg Huang-Dale

Masters in Voice Pedagogy Westminster Choir College/ Rider University!

So during the COVID slow down, I did a few things I hadn’t had time to do beforehand! 1. I wrote my book: Vocal Training for Praise Singers and 2. I started my online Masters of Voice Pedagogy at Westminster Choir College! I finally finished the masters in May of 2022 with honors! In March and April I was scrambling to finish my capstone project: an Online Vocal Training Course to be a companion to my book! I quickly learned that the book was too long to put all in one course and I created Vocal Training for Praise Singers Online Singing Course Series 1! It covers an introduction to voice training with important warm ups and basic understanding of how the Amazing Voice works, how to practice effectively, how to breathe efficiently and finally how to navigate your registers freely. It will be officially released in early 2024. Meanwhile, Ralph, Hannah and I went to NJ for my graduation!

Worship Leading!

Oh, 2023 was full of wonderful times of worship! We worshipped in our home church region the Northwest Mission Center of the Boston Church of Christ in Lowell, MA on most Sundays. I sang soprano most weeks and on band Sundays Ralph joined on keys while I played acoustic guitar. We also played for special services on Easter and of course Christmas at our home region and played for a big Christmas Service at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium for around 2000 worshipers. Ralph/ I were also involved in leading worship for marriage retreats, the Purity Conference, various memorials and I directed the worship for a women’s service as well. We love to sing and play for the Lord! Here are a couple of pictures from worship this year!

Happy Julie Continued to Sing Kids’ Parties!

In between everything else, I continued to do the Happy Julie thing for kids’ birthday parties! I keep saying I am going to let those gigs go in favor of regular adult solo gigs, jazz gigs, worship gigs, Christmas gigs with Harmony Jewels and Berklee stuff… but the kids are SO CUTE! Here I am at a party at the Boston Fire Museum!

Singing at Sister Churches and More

We LOVE singing and presenting vocal workshops at other churches- especially our sister churches! in 2023 we got to visit a few of our sister churches and share some music or vocal training. When we went to NJ for my graduation I got to share the song I wrote for my Mother at church there “Time to Call Mom.” We were actually there on Mother’s Day- so that worked out great! Then later we visited our sister church in Colorado Springs, CO in the Summer and got to share our song “Hope, Faith Love” from the Let My Light Shine Album there as well. When I went to Asheville, NC in the fall (more on that later) I also got to lead some vocal warm ups with their worship team. I am passionate about training worship leaders! I am looking forward to bringing my new book and training to Berlin, Germany again in 2024!

The above picture is from our visit to the church near Princeton, NJ

Here we are performing “Hope Faith Love” at the Colorado Springs Church!

Summer 2023!

Since I already mentioned Colorado Springs… though that was the end of the summer, I’ll start with it! I got a nasty attack of Sciatica which certainly cramped our hiking style- but somehow I still made it up 3/4 of the Manitou Incline! And the Rockies are really gorgeous!

Vocal Summit

I taught all summer at Berklee starting with the Vocal Summit with high school singers. All week we teach performance classes, then at the end of the week we lead a big show with our ensembles. This year was fantastic! And one of my dear students, Julia Kirkwood, (on the far right in yellow) told us about Colorado Springs which inspired our vacation in August.

Shout out here also to Brad Belmondo (holding a trumpet on the right)- Talented young singing-songwriter/ keyboardist/trumpeter… Look him up on on Youtube

I had a BIG Celebration for my 60th Birthday and Graduation!

Both Ralph and I turned 60th this year and we each had a huge (expensive) party inviting tons of friends! And a bunch of relatives made the trip, too like Alan and Soledad and my Dad! We set up a tent the night before and then it rained and it fell down! Jessie, Daniel Hannah and Caleb all helped and we had to put it up again the morning of the party!

Above is from Ralph’s 60th party in November! I robbed the cradle… 6 months older! Hannah, me, Ralph, Caleb

Solo gigs

Don’t forget I still do solo parties and events! Here I am at a private party for Sunil’s wife’s 60th birthday! Hoping to do more house concerts in 2024- ASK ME!

More Great Times with Family!

In betwixt and between, when the kids were back from college we made memories… at escape rooms and hikes, restaurants and bird sanctuaries and Hammond Castle (where we got married!)

Concerts Concerts! Original and Faculty!

2023 was a fantastic year for putting on big shows! I had scheduled my Let My Light Shine original concert for the summer of 2023 but then I got sick!!! I had to cancel the day of the show! Horror of horrors! But God blessed our rescheduled concert in the fall with a violinist that wasn’t available in the summer, Alyssa Barker. Of course we still had several singers get sick at the last minute and I had to quickly replace them singing back ups, too! But my original concert happened finally on September 21st! I still need to edit it and upload my favorite parts on YouTube!

Left to right: Elizabeth, Ralph, Andy, Lola, Julie, Amaury, Elain and Alyssa

The Two R Better Than One Faculty Collaboration concert in October was also a fun event! I collected a number of my Berklee Faculty Colleagues from the voice department and asked them to collaborate with at least one other voice professor on a song. I got to do “Sir Duke” with Jeanie Gagne and “In France They Kiss on Main Street” and “Express Yourself” with Adrian Sicam… My favorite show stopper was Ana Guigui and Andrea Cappazzoli‘s parody on “Enough is Enough” by Donna Summer and Barbara Streisand! They CRACKED ME UP! But the whole event was such a wonderful opportunity to bond with my colleagues!

Unfortunately, Julius Williams III and Hayley Thompson-King somehow escaped before the ending picture… but left to right starts with our announcer Lamarcus Miller, Ana Guigui, Jeanie Gagne, Me, Lynne Vadala-Doran, Kaoruko Yoshida-Pilkington, Adrian Sicam, Andrea Capozzoli and Voice department Admin- Deb Lynch!

Recording with Neal Merrick Blackwood!

One of the highlights of 2023 was my trip to Asheville, North Carolina to record 3 songs with Neal Merrick Blackwood. Neal has a spectacular resume as former engineer for Arista Records and working with many super stars including Dolly Parton, Prince, Rascal Flats, Pentatonix and many others… and little old me! He introduced me to a cast of talented session players including Zachary Page on bass (string and electric), Chris Rosser on keys and guitars, Lyndsey Pruett and Ginny Luke on violins to start! Neal played the drums. We recorded two of my originals I had already written: “Masterpiece” and “I Still Do” and we co-wrote a song: “You Listen to My Prayers!” I am so excited about this co-write! I am praying for it to be the vehicle to get an opener spot with a larger Christian artist on a tour or even a Dove Award! Please keep the finishing of this song in your prayers!

The Harmony Jewels & The End of 2023!

So as you can see, I had an amazing year in 2023… and it all wrapped up with my incredible Harmony Jewels Season! The Harmony Jewels A cappella Caroling Band had it’s busiest season EVER this our tenth year bringing cheer to the New England area! We played at Town/ City tree lightings for Revere, Quincy and Millbury! We returned to play repeat parties in Hollis, NH, Worcester, MA, Quincy, MA and downtown Boston! We thrilled at referrals that introduced us to numerous new clients all over the map! We welcomed several new members like Paul Pampinella, Ruthie Ristich and Daniela Tosic (also see the blog on the history of the Harmony Jewels) and rejoiced in the return of veteran singers like Jim Cafarella, Gabe Paradis and Diana Botello! We took pictures with Santa and the Grinch and tons of cute kids and brought joy to a lot of of lovely elderly fans! What a year!


Goals for 2024?

Check out the next blog!