Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Simply Dickens

There is a wonderful vocal group in the metro-Detroit area that I just happen to be manager and music director of; a quartet that consists of two guys and two girls, and they perform period music. Their name? Simply Dickens.
Simply Dickens was formed back in the fall of 2001 when my son, Tom, who was just 13 years old at the time, and a young lady, Kourtney, who was only 14, got together to rehearse Christmas music to sing at the Holly Dickens Festival, held on the streets of Holly, Michigan, every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was Kourtney that came up with the name Simply Dickens, due to the fact that they performed mainly at the Holly Dickens Festival. Their set list consisted of the 'old world' type Christmas music, songs such as "The Gloucestershire Wassail" and "Bring A Torch Jeannette Isabella" - music that was not quite as well known as the more popular "Rudolph" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." They were quite the hit among the festival go-ers and were asked to return the following year (and every year since!).
Jump ahead six months to summer 2002, Kourtney and Tom played at a dedication ceremony for an 1872 schoolhouse, songs such as "The Moustache Song, "Beautiful Dreamer," and "Bobby Shafto."
The attendees really enjoyed their performance.
By the fall of that second year we added a third member, another girl. This enabled expansion in their sound and structure and we increased the Christmas music repertoire. And by the summer of 2003 they began to increase their repertoire of 18th and 19th century music as well, while performing at a historical society garden party.
Summertime 2004 gave the group the opportunity to sing at festivals, including Erin-Halfway Days in Eastpointe, a world music festival (where they performed for the first time as a quartet and included Rennaissance madrigals as part of their set), and a Labor Day festival in Lexington, Michigan.
Simply Dickens at the World Festival

By Christmas of 2004, Simply Dickens' Christmas music selection had grown to include a German version of "Silent Night," the colonial "All You That Are Good Fellows," and even the Spanish madrigal of "Riu Riu Chiu." They even performed on Fox 2 News in December 2007!

Simply Dickens interviewed by Fanchon Stinger - FOX 2 News Detroit

And they continue to performed at various Christmas gatherings as well as at a few Civil War reenactments. In fact, their collection of 19th century music, like Christmas music, has grown tremendously and includes such numbers as "Faded Coat of Blue," "Shady Grove," "Some Folks Do," and "Just Before the Battle Mother."

In the spring of 2007, they put out a homemade CD of Civil War era music, available through me if any of you are interested.
But, their specialty is Christmas music, and a Christmas CD is forthcoming.
Simply Dickens at the Holly Dickens Festival

The third and fourth membership have changed over the years, but Tom and Kourtney have been the 'rock' of the group.
I am very proud of what this group has done in the few years of its existance. They have become well-known not only for their style of music, most of which is almost unheard in this modern day and age, but also to the fact that they perform in period clothing. To have a group of young people sing music that was written over a hundred years before they were born is a rarity, and this is, I believe, why they are continually asked to entertain at festivals, especially at the Holly Dickens Festival.
If you get an opportunity, make sure you come to see them perform. I think you will enjoy them.

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