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.
“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”
You can listen to her song on Dana Jo’s webpage
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.
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? ) 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.
(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.
(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…
(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.