In-Laws, Outlaws and Offspring- a New Family Reunion Song

Family Reunion Helper gave away a free family reunion theme package  to one of our lucky subscribers, Dana Jo Forseth.  What a wonderful surprise to make a new friend and learn more about this talented songwriter and singer. 

Dana Jo has written a lot of songs and  her latest album. “Driven”, features a family reunion song called, “In-laws, Outlaws and Offspring”. I love, love, love the lyrics of Dana Jo’s reunion song- oh, the picture she paints through her words.  I can just see family members lip syncing the song at our reunion talent show. Smile

“One hundred people scattered through
Some dozen rooms we rent
And whoever can’t deal with their mother-in-law
Is free to bring a tent”

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You can listen to her song on Dana Jo’s webpage
http://danajoforseth.com/category/audio/

You can purchase the song on Amazon where you can also listen to snippets of all the songs on her latest album, the mastered versions , and that way they have a link to purchase right there. 
http://www.amazon.com/Driven/dp/B006QYO5C8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330196058&sr=8-1

Dana Jo and I have corresponded through email the last month or so and I had the opportunity to learn a little more about her passion for singing, songwriting and family.

AUNT MO: Dana Jo, tell us a little about yourself.

DANA JO: I was born and raised on a farm outside of Fairfield, Montana, and I’ve always loved music.  I studied Business in college and work now as an accountant at a utility company in Montana, but I love to write, play and sing.  I’ve always wanted to record, and I hope I’ll have more opportunities to do that in the future.

AUNT MO: Where did you get the idea for your family reunion song, "In-laws, Outlaws and Offspring"?

DANA JO: I come from a very large family (there are over 150 people on my mother’s side of the family) and every 3 years, we gather for a week, usually at a lake or in the mountains somewhere.  Growing up, I’ve always known members of my family, and even though many of us get together all the time for holidays and weddings, these reunions are to credit (blame? Smile) for how close we are as a group.   The memories I made there are as much a part of my childhood as the place I grew up. 

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(A favorite family reunion activity- kids playing in the lake (“flying off the rope swing” etc) back in the 80s.)

DANA JO: A few of my relatives (more-so, the “outlaws”) were good with a guitar and I spent hours with my cousins sitting around a campfire, wishing I knew how to play one.  This was one of the first songs I ever wrote—and while I am nostalgic for our reunions (and they do still go on), I approached it almost with an irreverence…because, well, that’s how my family approaches a lot of things.

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(This is a picture of all eight of the Ward sisters doing a chorus line styled leg-kick back in 1975.  This became somewhat of a tradition at every reunion for as long as they all could do the kick.)

AUNT MO: I love the lyric that says "playing guess whose kid that is."  I think that is so funny- sounds like you’ve spent some time at family reunions. What are some of your favorite family reunion traditions?

Back when I was a kid, we would plan a lot of activities for the evenings that would get us all together as a group.  We’d have a trivia night, Water Olympics, an award ceremony, talent/skit show, game/tournament nights and the like for everyone, then as the younger and older would wander off to bed, we’d stay up and tell scary stories around the campfire, or (when I got older of course) play poker and drink a few beers.  Another favorite activity was cooking meals in the kitchen with our cousins and siblings, or learning from the aunts how to bake cinnamon rolls or potato bread.  One year we tried a karaoke night.  I don’t think we ever did that again…

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(The the evolution of reunion activities to playing “Just Dance” on the Wii.)

AUNT MO:  I love the song title, “In-Laws, Outlaws and Offspring”- how did you come up with that?

DANA JO: I didn’t come up with it—my Mom, Caroline Forseth, did.  I stole it from her after realizing I’d never heard the term anywhere else.  As to how she came up with it?  I’m not really sure…but I just think she’s a genius.

AUNT MO:  Tell us about the first song you ever wrote.

DANA JO: I wrote lyrics for years before I ever finished a song.  When I was a junior in high school, I was just starting to put together enough music theory to understand how to pair the music with the words.  So I finished my first whole song that Easter, and played it publicly for the first (and only) time at my high school’s spring concert.  It was also the first time I ever sang a solo in front of people—so talk about nerves!   I hadn’t told anyone about it other than my band teacher—my parents were very surprised and I think a little delighted.  The song was nothing special—it was called “So Far From Yesterday” and the register was so high I could hardly sing it. But I could only play it in the key I wrote it in.  Luckily, the critics were silent and the night ended with some really great pizza in a neighboring town.

AUNT MO: What a great story, you’ve come along way from high school spring concert- you’ve just released a new album- who do you hope will hear the album?

DANA JO: I’m just trying to get it out to the ears of the people who will love it—and that could be anyone at all.  Even though it (and I) came from a rural place, I feel like there’s something on this record for everyone.  It celebrates family roots, grieves losses and explores sadness, deals with a bad day, enjoys love, and shakes off heartbreak.  The emotions are universal, and being mostly-acoustic, many of the songs are so stripped down that fans of all different genres can enjoy them.  I really enjoyed writing these songs, and I’m so excited that people finally get to hear them.

Good luck to Dana Jo and her family and just in case you’re wondering- Dana Jo choose Book One of the Pipe Chimes books so I bet the Forseth family will be making music on the conduit pipes at their next family reunion.

Aunt MO

Music For Your Family Reunion Slide Show or Video

Creating a family slide show or video is fun and with all the tools available surprisingly easy.  Whether you’re reunion is being held at a resort or at a casual retreat, there’s no better way to take a stroll down memory lane than with a reunion slideshow or video presentation. 

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We’ve been making and showing slide shows at our family reunions for years now and have witnessed for ourselves the evolution of the slide show from the old photo slides and projectors to power point and movie maker presentations projected on wall sized screens.

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When making your slide show don’t make it too long-15 minutes is about right and you stretch it to 20 minutes if you keep your background music upbeat and catchy.

Be sure y0u include at least one photo of every member of your family.  Review the photos you plan on using to be sure you aren’t featuring one dominant person in your presentation.

Background Music is Important

Through the years we have come to realize the importance of the music used as background music behind the photo presentation. Music has the powerful ability to set the tone of your slide show and evoke strong feelings of good family memories.

When making a  family reunion slideshow or video you have to be able to put aside your own music preferences and select music that Grandma will enjoy (and can understand the lyrics) and music your teenagers will be able to bear.  I prefer upbeat music for most of my slideshows with one slow, sentimental song to really cement the memories.

Family Reunion Slide Show Music

When I thought about writing this blog I wondered what I could do to help a slide show makers job a little easier.  I decided that perhaps a list of good slide show background music might be helpful.  So listed below are some of the good old music “standards” we have used in our family slide shows throughout the years.  Just click on the song picture to download it for your presentation.

A good opening song might be “These Are My People” from Rodney Atkins.

“This is where I come from
Were givin’ this life everything we got and then some
It ain’t always pretty
But its real
It’s the way we were made
Wouldn’t have it any other way
These are my people”

“Firework” has a great message about how we are all important and can light a the world light a firework.  But it also has a catchy, upbeat tempo and your family will probably sing along with it.

If you want to feature Grandma and Grandpa in your slide show consider using Josh Grobin’s “You Raise Me Up” as tribute to these great people in your lives.

There was a time when I was making a lot of slide shows and “We Go Together” from the movie Grease seemed to be a great song for the end of the slide show.  It is upbeat and gets across the message that we’re family and “We Go Together”.

My family loves swimming and watersports so our family slide shows always include a lot of “water” pictures.  More often than not I look to the “Beach Boys” for good background music for these kinds of pictures.

“Let Them Be Little” by Billy Dean or Lonestar is a great song for showing baby pictures or pictures of the “early” years.  With the right pictures this song will bring tears to the Moms and Dads in your family.  Of course there is also “Through the Years” by Kenny Rogers and “Sunrise Sunset”  though I think these last two songs have been over used.

It’s pretty hard to beat Rascal Flatts “My Wish” for sending out a powerful message to your family.  Be careful to not use pictures that will make people laugh when they see it- you don’t want their laughter to cover up the beautiful lyrics of this song.

“But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.”

“Voices” by country artist Chris Young, is about all the things we hear from our family and how we hear their “voices” as we go throughout our lives.  Be sure to check out his music video of the song for some great family reunion video ideas. http://www.cmt.com/videos/chris-young/538509/voices.jhtml

You could say I’m a little bit crazy
You could call me insane
Walkin’ ’round with all these whispers
Runnin’ ’round here in my brain
I just can’t help but hear ‘em
Man, I can’t avoid it

I hear voices
I hear voices like
My dad sayin’ quit the team
And you’ll be a quitter for the rest of your life
Mama tellin’ me to say a prayer
Every time I lay down at night
And grandma sayin’ if you find the one
You’d better treat her right
Yeah, I hear voices all the time

 

If you have lost someone dear in your family during the year since your last family reunion you my want to include a segment of pictures of them in your slideshow using Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” as background.

For more current music substitute “My Way” for Brad Paisley’s “When I Get Where I’m Going”.

“Yeah when I get where I’m going
There’ll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I’ll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I’m going
Don’t cry for me down here”

And if all else fails and you just can’t come up with a song you can always use “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.  It may have been overused but you just can’t beat it’s catchy beat and meaningful lyrics.

“All of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose”

Use  a Projector for a Life Sized Slide Show

When I started doing family reunion presentations to civic and church groups it became necessary for me to get a projector that would project large images on the wall. My projector isn’t fancy with a lot of bells and whistles but so far it’s been just perfect for what I need it for.  A projector like mine may be just the thing to show your side show on for your family reunion. 

If you’re going to make a slideshow for your reunion, make sure you budget enough time to put together a good production. Don’t underestimate your show’s ability to influence people’s overall impression of your family. Sharing and reliving memories is a powerful thing!

Aunt MO

Have You Heard the Family Reunion Song

A few years ago I wrote  blog about the ten best family reunion songs.  http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2010/04/my-top-ten-family-reunion-songs/  Heading the list was a little known song called “Family Reunion” from Teresa Jennings and Plank Road Publishing.  Teresa and her crew gave me permission to feature the song on our family reunion website and since then many visitors to the site have listened to the song and become addicted to it’s catchy hillbilly sound.

You can listen to this song at http://www.familyreunionhelper.com and you can download it http://www.mootoobmoosic.com

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Our family has had a lot of fun with the reunion song. One year we assigned a few people from each family group to learn the song and then sing it at our family reunion. Many of the performers dressed up in Hillbilly attire and sang it with a twang. It was the highlight of the reunion and soon everyone at the reunion was singing along. It’s easy to learn and easy to sing but if you’re looking for a serious family reunion song this is not it.

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Since writing that family reunion music blog a new song has come to my attention.  It’s from country artist Chris Young and is called “Voices”.  To get the full effect of the song you need to watch the music video "Voices" Video

You could say I’m a little bit crazy
You could call me insane
Walkin’ ’round with all these whispers
Runnin’ ’round here in my brain
I just can’t help but hear ‘em
Man, I can’t avoid it

I hear voices
I hear voices like
My dad sayin’ quit the team
And you’ll be a quitter for the rest of your life
Mama tellin’ me to say a prayer
Every time I lay down at night
And grandma sayin’ if you find the one
You’d better treat her right
Yeah, I hear voices all the time

“Voices” would be a great song choice for your family reunion power point, video or slide show.

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Good Songs for Your Family Independence Day Party

I once attended a fireworks show that put music to their fireworks display and it was my favorite works show ever!  It seems that most of the bigger show are doing that now and with a little bit of effort you can put together some great songs about “America” for your family reunion, party or family get-together too.  Because families are so eclectic I tried to include something for everyone. 

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Here’s a list to get you started:

Living in America by James Brown
Start your Independence Day party off right with some good dance music.  One of those “earworm” songs that gets stuck in your head.

“America the Beautiful” Ray Charles
No one does it better!

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“Only in America” Brooks and Dunn
“Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America”

“Back in the USA"  Chuck Berry
This song is a classic.

“Courtesy of the Red White and Blue” Toby Keith
Toby Keith got a lot of grief over writing this song. It was written after the 9-11 incident, and helps us remember that there are men dying so we can sleep at peace each night.  And don’t forget Toby’s other great song, “American Soldier”.

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“Arlington” Trace Adkins
This song songs tells of war from a soldier’s perspective after he has died in battle.  Listen to the words, it always gets to me.

“This Country Stands” Dyer Highway
Good song from a new group, brother and his two sisters, all under 18 years of age.

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“America Saturday Night” Brad Paisley
Sums up America’s diversity and how we embrace the traditions and cultures of America’s people.

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“Born in the USA” Bruce Springsteen
A 4th of July classic- perfect for your fireworks show.

“God Bless the USA” Lee Greenwood
I teach this song to my music students every year and you’d think I’d be sick iof it by now but even though it came out 25 years ago it still makes me proud to be an American every time I sing it. Some people refer to this song as the “unofficial” national anthem.

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Sweet Home Alabama” Lynyrd Skynyrd Band
Well, it’s a song about one of the great states in Aerica and I just love the music!  And besides what’s a party without some Southern Rock!

Keep on Rocking in the Free World by Bon Jovi
This song has become a classic fireworks songs for Independence Day

“Fightn’ Side of Me” Merle Haggard
In this song Merle Haggard talks about how everyone has the right to stand up for what they believe, but don’t run down the country.

“Some Gave All” Billy Ray Cyrus
A heartfelt performance on this loving tribute to the men and women that fight for our freedom each day which has nothing to do with “boot scootin’”.

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“If You’re Reading This” Tim McGraw
The song tells the story of a soldier that has passed on, and his wishes on how he’d like to be remembered, and where he’d like to be buried. 

And finally, though not technically a song-
“America, Why I Love Her” John Wayne

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Even as I put this list together I realized that I was leaving out some great American music.  Share your favorites and I’ll add them to the list.

Happy Independence Day!

Aunt MO

A New Family Reunion Song!

A few weeks ago I was introduced to a new family reunion song. It was written and recorded by a talented musician, Brenda Fielding. Besides being a recording artist and song writer, Brenda is also a fan of family reunions and has a rich family heritage. Brenda’s song “Side by Side” talks about that heritage. One verse of the song says,

"Year after year, we gather you and I
Exchange our hugs and catch up on our lives
We play ball in a field
Pillow fights in a tent
Then hold the newest babies that were heaven sent."

Don’t you just love that- that’s a family reunion summed up in one verse. You may listen to Brenda’s song, “Side By Side” at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/brendafielding .

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Brenda contacted me a few weeks ago. Her family is planning a “Caveman” theme reunion this year and she was so friendly and outgoing that I thought it would be fun to talk to her about her song, her life and her family reunions.  Here’s part of that conversation-

AUNT MO: Brenda, tell us a little about yourself.

BRENDA: I love music and family. I am a songwriter with a great husband and eight children. I have been married 26 years and I live in Scappoose, Oregon. My husband and I have owned our own businesses since 1992. We own a tree company and have done a lot of real estate. We have only owned our tree business for 8 years, before that we started and owned 2 restaurants for 14 years. We have also owned and ran a beauty salon and a horse ranch. I graduated from BYU in 1997 in Education. I love the piano and have played and taught it for most of my life. I also love to paint and appreciate all art.

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AUNT MO: Where did you get the idea for your family reunion song, "Side by Side"?

BRENDA: I got the idea from the wonderful family I married into, the Fieldings. They have had an annual reunion since 1973. They wouldn’t even dream of not having a reunion every single year. We usually come together on a Friday and leave on a Monday. We have our traditional games, family pictures, and the cousins are loud and jump all over each other. We also play "Run My Sheepy Run" on Saturday night- which entails all the kids running around in the moonlight hiding behind trees etc. Sunday night is always the testimony meeting with s’mores.

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AUNT MO: My favorite line in the song is "We look to the past and pull it forward" How did you come up with that line?

BRENDA: I came up with the line because that is our heritage. We look to the past and we still do what our ancestors do. We respect that. How did I come up with it? I’m not sure, I just thought of it because I was thinking about how to express respecting our heritage and traditions.

AUNT MO: Do you have any traditions you repeat every year at your family reunions?

BRENDA: We love to do the “Egg Toss” game. Everyone has a partner and tosses the egg then backs up about 3 feet each.

One of our oldest traditions is “Dummy Doll”: A very fluffy pretty puppet that is operated out of a doorway or a tent door. The kids ask it questions and the dummy dolls bites their fingers if they put them in it’s mouth. The kids love this and has been a tradition since the 1930’s.

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We also love doing a “Fish pond”: All the parents bring a small gift of $5 or so. Older teens pin up a blanket and there is a pin attached to a plastic bag with a stick.

We also do a “Treasure Hunt”: All the grandkids have their name on a brown paper bag filled with peanuts and candy. They have to find their own bag.

Family pictures with some sort of matching t shirts. Last year we all tie dyed white shirts- the pictures turned out great. The year before all the males were in white collared shirts and all the females with in red and everyone had on blue jeans- very cute pictures. Before that we mainly had different colors for each family- so 10 different colors that we rotated every year.

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AUNT MO: Most families struggle with how to pay for their family reunions. What works for your family?

BRENDA: Each family is assigned a meal which they buy all the ingredients for and make when it’s their turn. We all turn in our receipts to one uncle who makes sure that it’s all fair. Each family has to pay $200 plus $20 for each additional person in their family. That pays for a pretty nice reunion site then the uncle figures up all the receipts and gives a refund back for the food costs- all equal.

AUNT MO: How do your organize and plan your family reunions?

BRENDA: We have an adult meeting with all the original 10 kids and spouses and grandparents and we discuss the next year’s events.

AUNT MO: You’re a musician, how do you incorporate music into your family reunions?

BRENDA: "Love at Home" is sung at every testimony meeting cuz it was old Grandpa Fielding’s favorite. We include music in our morning devotionals. We have had some challenges with our devotional in the mornings, so this year we are going to start breakfast and then have a devotional after everyone starts coming in to eat. Hopefully it’ll work better and be better attended. We also include a little music before and after the talent show and also before the testimony meeting. We are going to use a www.familyreunionhelper.com idea this year and have a "Family Heritage" church instead of going to the local ward for church. That will give us some great opportunities for incorporating music into our reunion. 

You can find the “Love At Home” song Brenda mentions at
“Love At Home”

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AUNT MO: I’m sure a lot goes into writing and producing your own album, do you have plans for a second album?

BRENDA: I have enough songs for it, in fact, I have several more that I can use for a 3rd CD. I think you’ll like my new songs. One is called "The Widow’s Mite", "How did He know" (about how Jesus knew a woman in a crowd after she sought him out, now knowing who he was), "Tender Mercies", etc. It costs $1,000 per song to get it arranged and recorded. A couple thousand more for other production costs, CD cases, and the covers. I haven’t done it yet cuz I’m trying to figure out how to pay for it.

The title of Brenda’s album is “Let Christ In”. At CD Baby.com people can purchase the CD, download the album or for 99 cents you can download just the family reunion song, “Side by Side”. You can find Brenda’s music at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/brendafielding

One of the best things about familyreunionhelper.com is meeting new people and making new friends.  Good luck to Brenda and to the whole Fielding family!

Aunt MO

Music is what feelings sound like.