I am finally back from my vacation which was very refreshing in body & spirit. So to get me back into the swing I wanted to have a musician that could keep the good vibes going. My next guest is enduring this snowy winter like most of us in New England and she goes by the name Julie Kinscheck. Julie’s voice is soft, sweet, and inviting to the ear. I knew I wanted to have her on after hearing her song “Grace” off her album ‘Grace with Jazz on Top.’ Join us as Julie Kinscheck talks about how the church led her to music, how music helps her marriage, Hope Worldwide, and so much more.
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and how was your holidays?
Julie Kinscheck: Today I am in Billerica, MA -Home. We are expecting a big storm tomorrow and we have been working on the recording studio we are building in the house before the storm hits. We had some construction guys in here this morning painting the control room floor and fixing some spots on the n trim for the new door into what will be the live recording room. It is amazing how many details go into not only making something acoustically excellent- but just cosmetically right!
As for the holidays- we spent Christmas here with visiting family. We had finished all the big Christmas concerts etc the week before. We had planned to go down to the Atlanta area to visit Ralph’s side of the family- but we got snowed in! Time to sled!
Stoli: How much does music play into your family gatherings for the holidays?
Julie Kinscheck: Crazy as it seems- not much. My brothers are professional base and drums, my parents (divorced and both re-married) write (Mom) and Sing opera (Dad)- but when we get together we mostly eat and talk. Some years I have led the family in carol singing. That is just the actual Christmas Eve and Day.
My immediate family is always very involved in various Christmas shows, student recitals and special Christmas services running up to the holiday- on which I am usually singing, playing, conducting and leading often adults and children. This year my favorite Christmas event was the Christmas service I helped to direct the week before Christmas- which included me directing two children’s choirs- And singing this gorgeous BarlowGirl Christmas song called “Hallelujah (Light Has Come)”.
Stoli: What are you proud of for 2010 and would like to accomplish in 2011?
Julie Kinscheck: One of the things I am most proud of in 2010 was directing a benefit called “The Night Of HOPE” here in Billerica. I put together a set with my original band to play- and we were the house band. One of the songs off our The Force CD “Hope For the Children” was the theme song for the night. I invited numerous other wonderful musicians to perform and a speaker, Walter Kotkowski, from Hope Worldwide to present. We raised a bunch of money for HOPE’s incredible medical missions in Africa and Guatamala. I hope (no pun intended) to direct an even larger event in town in 2011.
In 2010 I managed to get the attention of a good deal of local and regional press; I was on the cover of The Metronome, The Billerica Green, The Lowell Sun and The Minute Man to name a few. This should make publicizing our next night of Hope much better. This in turn will raise more money for needy children- which is an important part of my personal mission as an artist.
Also in 2011 we hope to lay down the basics for my next CD. I have been writing lots of new songs that I am very excited about- and with our new home studio (prayerfully functional in the next few months) we will start to put it together! I will fly my drummer brother, Gary in from LA again and import my bass playing brother, Chris up from NY for the basics!
Another really cool thing from 2010 was having my “Coffee Song” hit the charts in Austria! I am praying to do a tour in Europe in the summer of 2011.
Stoli: The church and your father helped get you started in music. How would you say that that shaped you as a songwriter today?
Julie Kinscheck: Well my Dad is certainly a big part of why I can sing well- he has a gorgeous voice! But it was my mother’s poetry writing style and her marvelous use of imagery that influences my songwriting even today. The influence of the church and later contemporary Christian music has been a more recent (last 20 years) influence than childhood- but everything I write, even the completely secular songs are all influenced by the faith that guides my life… my belief in the good always triumphing over evil, that anything is possible with God and that there is hope in any situation no matter how grave it seems.
Stoli: You graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston. How did your years there help take your performance to the next level and to learn with the best?
Julie Kinscheck: Berklee was invaluable to me! I always enjoyed singing and writing and playing… but it was at Berklee that i got many more tools to make a living doing it. Learning to arrange the parts for the band, read and write vocal parts, write jingles, and so much more has helped me again and again- as well as just the opportunity to play with so many great musicians in every different style, get experience in the studio etc. I’d recommend it to anyone serious about pursuing music.
Stoli: You released your debut ‘Grace with Jazz on Top.’ How long did you write & record that album and any plans for a follow up?
Julie Kinscheck: Since that was my debut solo artist CD- some of the songs, like “Always Kiss GoodNight” or “Coffee Song” were over a decade old… I nearly put on a song “Where is the BOy” which I had written as a student at Berklee in the 80’s! We did the basics but it wasn’t finished for this disk- But the actual production of the CD took us almost exactly a year. We laid basics in March and had the disc in hand the following April. (And we pushed at the end because I had to have copies for a conference I was singing at in Canada!) We had SO MANY different wonderful singers and players on Grace that it took a long time- and we had small children and other jobs on top! I expect the next disk will take a similar amount of time to complete- so let’s look for it in 2012:)
Stoli: Your vocal ability is captivating. When did you realize you had that talent and how do you keep your voice sharp?
Julie Kinscheck: Thank you so much. It is very important to me that my voice reaches people. I like that word “Captivating”. I remember watching Star Search when I was very young- maybe 7 and saying “I can do what she’s doing!”- so I have known I had a talent for a very long time- the challenge in knowing so young is that you can start to feel entitled to recognition- I thought I was supposed to have hits before I was 25 years old and it just didn’t happen that way! God has his own timing. I keep having to relearn that lesson!
As for keeping my voice sharp- it helps very much that teach voice lesson during the week. Being a vocal coach means I warm up my voice and do exercises often- keeping my range and flexibility at its best. Then when I practice my own songs- I’m already in good shape.
Stoli: Your husband Ralph is a musician as well. How does that mutual love for music keep your marriage strong?
Julie Kinscheck: We love to play together. It was part of how we fell in love- I was in a country band and I asked him to play keys for it. He thought “She must like me since she knows I’m really a rock player.” and I thought “He must like me since he agreed to play in my country band and I know that’s not really his gig!” The crazy thing is he got to like country a lot more and I got a lot more rock in me from the relationship!
Stoli: I am a coffee junkie. I love your song, “Coffee Song.” What inspired you to write & record that song?
Ralph was the inspiration! We hadn’t even started dating and you could tell some sparks were flying! I wrote the song and gave it to him on a cassette. It freaked him out a bit at first- but I think it sped things up a tad!
Stoli: The USA is in rough shape these days. How can faith & music help ease the pain of the people suffering?
Julie Kinscheck: Well- I sure hope my music helps to do that! Everyone needs hope in their lives- so many people feel so isolated and depressed. God has the answers- he is really the place to look. “Secure in Heart”, “Martha, Martha”, “Grace” and certainly “American Memory” all lead you there. “get in the Water” is a really fun song about my conversion- I was in a pretty low place before I cam e to faith- and I’m sure there was more than a gospel choir singing of angels when I cam e out of the water!!!! One of the toughest times in my life was when I couldn’t get pregnant- but again, it was God, and my faith community that helped me through this time.
Music, and my songs I pray, can inspire hope in people… It can make all the difference!
Stoli: You donate proceeds from sales to HOPE. How did you get involved with that cause and how can readers help out as well?
Julie Kinscheck: Hope WOrldwide is an AMAZING charity! Ranked top internationally for their efficient use of donated funds (they don’t spent it all on advertising and sending free address stickers for instance! it really goes to the needs) they help people all over the world- what ever the needs in that area… in India it was housing and medical care for lepers, in Africa it is Aids Clinics, in Boston it is Foster programs and parties for foster teens and a food pantry etc… Anyway- I got involved through my church over a decade ago.. originally just doing door to door health education and neighborhood cleanup efforts… NOw I also do concerts for them and have promised that 10% of CD profits will go to HOPE. Check them out at www.hopeWW.org
Stoli: What is coming up for you in the new year and where can we follow you online?
Julie Kinscheck: In addition to playing local shows and singing and playing with the Praise team/band at church I am praying to travel to tour in Europe, as I mentioned before… And other conferences and event stateside. My material is especially suited to womens conferences and events. If you out there know of womens events that might hire me- PLEASE let me know:)