Another Great Article/Review from a Newspaper – East Oregonian 9.21.09

Link  to original article:

Mother-daughter team create lullaby album98149a

The East Oregonian

When Jennifer Thomas’ newborn son refused to fall asleep at night, she got an inspiration.

Thomas, a pianist and composer, set little Preston in a baby swing and started playing sweet lullabies on her piano. The baby melted into slumber as quickly as if Mr. Sandman himself had made a house call.

The result of Thomas’ revelation is “The Lullaby Album,” created by Thomas and her mother, Carolyn Southworth, and personally tested by Preston. The music is relaxing enough to soothe not only infants, but stressed and frazzled adults.

Southworth, who grew up in Pendleton and now lives in Camano Island, Wash., said her daughter was at her wit’s end with Preston.

“The little stinker would not go to sleep,” she said, laughing. “He was traumatized.”

Once Preston started getting his sleep, Thomas mulled over the idea of creating a collection of traditional and original lullabies to help other parents lull their babies into dreamland. She asked her mom to compose some of the songs and play on the two-CD album with her.

“I didn’t have to think about it for more than two seconds,” Southworth said.

The women, both talented pianists, violinists and composers, released solo albums prior to “The Lullaby Album.” Southworth debuted with “The End of Day,” while Thomas released an album called “Key of Sea.”

Southworth, who started playing violin and piano at the age of five, is an alumnus of the Pendleton School District’s strings program.

“I was one of the original kids under Shirlene McMichael,” Southworth said.

McMichael taught in the ’60s when Pendleton served as Suzuki’s first American pilot program for a method of teaching stringed instruments that involves immersion and memorizing by rote. Though the method was wildly popular in Japan, it didn’t reach the United States until school board member Betty Feves talked the board into giving it a try.

Southworth, daughter of Dr. Derrell and Thelma Lindsay, also took private violin and piano lessons.

“I will always be grateful to the many wonderful teachers that I had in Pendleton, such as Shirlene McMichael, Rob and Barbara Roy, Betty Feves, Mabel Gerards and Betty White,” said Southworth. “Those people made a huge impact on my life,”

She discovered music theory in Roy’s classroom. The lessons took so well that, later, at Brigham Young University, she “sat there twiddling my thumbs for two years” in the school’s required music theory classes.

While Southworth taught all four of her children to play piano, the lessons caught fire only in Jennifer, who seemed to spend every spare moment practicing.

“She practiced all hours,” Southworth said. “I actually had to say, ‘Jenny, stop practicing.'”

Her drive paid off. She’s won numerous competitions and Thomas’ music caught the ear of independent filmmakers and has been heard on NBC’s Universal Sports network.

With the lullaby project, mother and daughter divided the composing and orchestration almost down the middle. The women collaborated from afar, since Thomas lives an hour-and-a-half down the road in Fall City, Wash.

One of Southworth’s compositions is “Unseen Angel,” inspired by a friend who suffered from multiple organ failure and seemed past hope when she revived.

“She literally died – her husband worked on her, giving her CPR, for two hours,” Southworth said. “She was blessed from the other side. The doctors were shocked. She’s perfect today.”

Emmy Award-winning pianist Jace Vek orchestrated the song and Grammy Award winner Paul Speer engineered and mixed the album. The album contains vocals by Jillian Goldin and Lori Cunningham.

The two discs have identical song lists. The first is piano with orchestra and the second contains piano solos. The second CD is aimed at children and is “Preston-approved.”


4 responses to “Another Great Article/Review from a Newspaper – East Oregonian 9.21.09

  1. Really? I only read the article once, but I didn’t notice any grammatical errors. Sometimes the tense usage was a bit skewed, but not to the point where it didn’t make sense. LOL Maybe I should go back to school myself!

  2. Very thorough, interesting, and informative. I feel like I’m beginning to know the personalities behind these two very talented women, and that helps to make their music even more meaningful. I hope that at some time my efforts to introduce them to other GOOD music lovers will be of some help. When you find a treasure, one MUST share it!

  3. As the reporter who wrote the story, I was dismayed to read Annalea’s comment. Annalea, I would be sincerely interested in your detailed critique of this article and its flaws. I’m always up for improving my writing and would welcome specific comments. My email address is

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