Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Everywhere, Everywhere, Christmas Tonight!

It is 2:29 AM Mountain Standard Time, and I am just home from Midnight Mass with my dear friend Anoinette Belvedere, one of the most Christ-like people that I am privileged to call "friend." I guess I should go to sleep...but I don't' want to...I don't want to sleep, I want to stay awake and think about Christmas. Christmas teaches us something different every year, every time it comes...it teaches us. This has been a Christmas unlike any other to me. I have learned about God, about the real nature of God. He has been on my mind every moment of every day. I have a quote on my nightstand, I have had it there for many months.
It says
"If men do not comprehend the nature of God, they do not comprehend themselves."
This quote is actually by Joseph Smith, and it has been on my mind every morning and every night for months and months. Years even. And because of the events of this year, I am finally coming to begin, in a very small way, to understand the true character of God.
He is kinder and more willing to grant miracles than we could ever imagine, and grant them more specifically than we could ever dare to hope.
And, even though I knew this very well before, God is no respecter of persons. Not at all. And blessings are not just for the ones who pray. Thank God. They are for us all; for the Catholics and the Jews and the Buddhists and Animists and Islams and Sikhs and the Taoists and Confucianists and Zoroastratists and Calvinists and the Baptists and the Mormons and the Lutherans and Methodists and Jainists and Hindus and Agnostics and Atheists...all of us. God is in all of us. I have felt it, in every part of myself I have felt it, His love, for us all...even...if we do not believe in Him, He still believes in us.

The dawn is rising Christmas in England, and the light will be coming up over Whitehall Street and Big Ben will ring in Christmas Day in that part of the world.
And, as we are being BOMBED with snow outside in Utah , in Cuba, the palm trees bow, in honor of the birth of the Son of God.
And the people there will dance.
Good Night, Christmas Eve.

I leave you with my favorite Christmas Poem, "Christmas Everywhere" by Phillips Brooks

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm-tree and vine,
Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright.
Christmas where children are hopeful and gay,
Christmas where old men are patient and gray,
Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
Broods o're brave men in the thick of the fight;
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all;
No palace too great, no cottage too small.

Good Night, everyone.
Merry Christmas, to us all.
Love, Jeanne Elizabeth Madsen

Friday, December 14, 2007

I passed my Math class

There is a God.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

It has come to my attention that someone has run off with the baby Jesus from our nativity scene.
That's nice.

About 12

About 12 this afternoon, I was speaking with a woman named Carol Brooks. I was actually holding her in my arms and she was sobbing. I had just finished singing with Jennie Larsen for a christmas party at the Senior Center in Payson, Utah. And this dear woman tearfully told me of her story; that she had been an Opera singer 'til she was 19 and then she underwent a surgery that severed her right vocal chord and has not sung a note since. She is now in her 70s. I could not help but cry with her...there are some things in this life that I just do not understand.
"I cannot share it with anyone anymore" she said in her raspy voice...(much crying)..."but I will sing again."
"I will sing with you." I said. She relaxed and after a moment
replied, "I will wait for you."
I marvel at her strength. Thank you, Carol Brooks.
Please do wait for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The After Math Part Two

*Actual post date: December 13th about 12:30 PM*
As many of you know, I have just finished with the most challenging semester of my whole life. I have never worked so hard or felt so inadequate at the same time...never. At first it was just 5 to 6 hours a day of studying and homework for one class, for math(for the first block)not that bad, but when I got into the second block, the average was 8 hours a day. And for the last month,(beginning the day after my concert), I was there at school studying math an average of 11.18 hours a day. For ONE class. Math. Math. Math. Math. Taught by one of the most intelligent men that I have ever been in the presence of, Professor Machiel van Frankenhuijsen. He is empirically a genius, really, like one of those people you read about in some European magazine (I was scared to death of him at first)...and he taught us all like we should be geniuses, too. My brain has never been so stretched, EVER, and that, is saying something. It actually got to the point where it felt more normal to be doing math than NOT to be doing math. If I had a minute free, I would think, "Isn't there some math I should be doing?", and most nights I literally dreamt in math... and with the end of the class being yesterday, ending with the final...I don't know what to do with myself anymore. I began to cry yesterday, seeing what the world looked like at 12:30 in the afternoon, I had in truth forgotten what things looked like at that time of day...and it scared me a little. I don't know how to navigate things anymore...or what to do with myself anymore. I walked aimlessly around the grocery store today, listening to "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree" by Peggy Lee blasting from the speakers up above and I tell you truly, I could not find the peanut butter. And I looked down every isle. Poo-poo to having it next to the bread and jam! I finally had to ask one of the store clerks where it was, she looked at me like I was an imbecile when I told her in all seriousness that I was unable to locate the peanut butter. Isle 4.
Things that I think I will do now:
*Paint my fingernails red
*Think about things
*Spend time with my Dad
*Watch Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Miracle on 34th Street
*Get a Christmas tree
*Clean my bathroom
*Walk around the mall aimlessly
*Stare at people
*Think about things
*Talk to myself
*Make the rest of my flashcards to memorize the flags of the world
*Get a peanut butter map
*Finish the "Twilight" series
*Maybe draw something
*Listen to things
*Blink more than normal

About the Gig: All of the goings on. All Photos by the amazing Abbie Warnock

This is my favorite shot of the entire concert, Abbie caught me praying, right before I went on stage for my first ever gig. I can't believe that she captured this moment.

I love this one, too.

About the concert.
It was an amazing night for me...it was funny, I think that I have some kind of karma with mics because AGAIN they did not have my mic on, so, for the first half of "Pagliaccio" there was no sound. It sucked, I'm not gonna lie, I think that I need to have a clause, (on the suggestion of one of my friends) that the next time they do that to me, someone gets to take me to dinner.
Ah...I wish I could tell everything...every moment. We didn't sell out the theatre, like I had hoped and worked so hard for, but, it was my first gig, what could I expect? I was glad that we sold as many tickets as we did. One thing that could not have gone better was how my voice lasted through the whole gig. It didn't falter once, I was SO grateful. It was a miracle, really, because I had been VERY sick for about a month...and that night something happened, something changed and got better. Thank you, Heavenly Father. "O Mio Babbino Caro" was especially a surprise for me in how well it went. I have not sung full-out opera that amazingly in months. Really. I am sure that the crowd saw the visible shock in my face! HA-HA-HA!!! I was VERY happy with "Pieta", they had Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night" in the background and it was very powerful, very powerful. "Both Sides Now" was awesome, Kath said that she felt that the audience was not breathing during that one. Those two songs were like a dream. The costume change took WAY too long and I felt so bad that everyone had to wait as long as they did for the intermission. Ig. Sorry everyone. I will have to figure out how to get that to work for tour.... .
I loved the Jazz set, it was wonderful to finally premier my song "Never The Lovers", I first started writing it in 1998, so, it was good to finally see it's completion.
I was very glad about the Christmas set. It was wonderful to play with my sister, Kathryn, on stage for the first time, we did a song called "Le Stelle Nel Cielo" a GORGEOUS Italian lulluby from a teeny little town where she served her mission, in Italy. Singing "O Holy Night" in the original French was one of the highlights of the entire concert...it was a beautiful human experience for me.
The Mayor came, Mayor Billings, and he gave us two dozen red roses each(Jennie and Me). He was the one who started this all, I am so grateful to him.
One thing that really has stood out to me, and makes me very happy is that, I really had fun doing this...like REALLY had fun. It was not the usual dread and fear and anxiety that usually plagues me every time I perform. It was amazing for me to experience it being fun, enjoyable even...yeah... .

Here is the set list:

O Mio Babbino Caro/Let it Be
Both Sides Now
He's The Wiz

The Other Hours
Never The Lovers
A Boy Named Charlie Brown
And We Dance

Jesus Christ The Apple Tree/O Come Emmanuel (In Latin)
Le Stelle Nel Cielo with my sister, Kathryn (In Italian)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
O Holy Night (In French)
Silent Night (In German)

Saturday, November 24, 2007


AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I'm on a POSTER!!!! Here is Jennie, too, she is so amazing.

My "big" entrance though the back of the crowd, it was cool.

My Mom got this shot, it is my favorite of the whole show.

Here I am with Jennie and my sister, Kathryn, on stage performing the Italian lullaby, "Le Stelle Nell Cielo." It was epic.

There was a full moon that night, how cool is that?

Clown Costume by TIFFANY&Co.

Actually, the gifted costume maker is from England and her name is Venessa Graham. She does the costumes for the BYU touring ballroom team.
She is the one responsible for this sparkling amazingness.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I have a confession. I've failed at making chocolate chip cookies since I was 8 years old. But, I have since repented. Vivian gave me a set of measuring cups for my birthday this year from Williams and Sonoma, and they have given me courage to do things or try things that I had given up on years ago. Ahhhh...

Here they are...in the oven...my little cookies. I wanted to make sure that they were baked to perfection. They were not gross. And a wound has been healed. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


This is me inspecting my patient.

This is my patient, post-surgery. It was a close one.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The After Math

Oh my goodness, it has been too long since I have updated this thing. My sincerest apologies. It is General Conference tomorrow for all of us Mo-Mos, wow.

Well, the past two months have been nuts for my career. I will try and give a brief synopsis of the going's on.
I sang for the naming ceremony of the new Covey Arts Center in Downtown Provo on the 22nd of August. It must have gone really well because they asked the pianist and I back to perform for the Opening Gala concerts and those were Wednesday night and last night, Thursday. It was VERY fun to get to perform at the Gala concerts! The pianist that I am performing withs name is Jennie Bangerter Larsen. We performed three numbers together: "O Mio Babbino Caro", "When I Fall in Love" and "Back to Before" from the musical Ragtime. It was so cool. Really. And of a truth, for the very first time in my life, I am beginning to actually ENJOY performing...what a concept. It is wonderful to not dread it anymore. Something has snapped inside of me and I am grateful for it.
There is also some HUGE news attached to this, and that is that
It is going to be the day after Thanksgiving on Friday the 23rd of November of this year at the Covey Arts Center. Please Visit www.coveycenter.org
This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me, to put it very lightly. I have never done an ENTIRE concert, of just me in a REAL VENUE! It will actually be half me and half Jennie Larsen, the amazing pianist. The ticket prices will be $10-15. I hope that every one can come!!!

Why am I calling this post the "After Math?" Well, first of all, it is because the final Gala show was last night (it was an invitation only affair, very posh) and because all I do with the rest of my time is Math, but we can get into that later.
Let me tell you about the show.
Ahhh....it was delightful. First off, for Jennie and I being the opening number, the techies where still working out some of the bugs and forgot to turn my mic on, not only was it off actually, but it was on some kind of secret-stealth-mute-mode. It really was hilarious because Jennie and I were doing the song "Back to Before" and I had sung the phrase "There was a time...." and that was the point when I realized that there was no mic. The usual panic ensued and for what seemed like and eternity, 8,000 thoughts ran through my head ("Holy cow what am I going to do should I just ask them to restart should I say something funny should I just pretend that the mic is still working I don't want to fumble with it and look stupid HeavenlyFatherhelpmeplease") "OUR HAPPINESS SEEMED NEVER ENDING!!!" Ah-hah-hah-hah-hah!!! So, I was just like, "OKAY voice, it's just you and me." and I stepped away from the mic and sang that song the best I ever have. I felt like I was singing as if my life depended on it. It was an exhilarating experience, truly, and I would not have changed it for anything.
The highlight of the evening for me though, was to get to sing my original song "Pieta (Vincent's Last Prayer)" with the Utah Valley Symphony. I wrote the song about a year and a half ago and it was BEYOND surreal to perform the orchestrated version of it WITH an orchestra, LIVE. Surreal indeed.
It was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I really do love that place, The Covey Arts Center.
The opening of the Covey Center was covered in the Utah Valley Deseret News today, and there was a big picture of guess who (me!) in the article. Very cool. Random people are coming up to my Mother in grocery stores to tell her how amazing I did and ask her if she is proud of me.
She has no idea who these people are.
Ah, it's cool. I will give you more updates as the time for MY FIRST REAL CONCERT approaches!!! YAY!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Today as I was waiting to see the podiatrist, I heard one of the most disturbing things ever to slam into my cilia...a MUSAC version of "Penny Lane" by the Beatles. K, it was so bad that I almost had tears in my eyes (it didn't help that my foot was being ripped off of my leg)...they also played a murdered version of "We can work it out" 30 minutes later..."no you CAN'T work it out!" was my silent protest to this unasked-for cacophony.
I have been obsessed with the Beatles of late. Obsession is a very soft word here actually, I think. Were it back in 1964, I would have been one of those fans that you would have been afraid of...yeah, one of those girls that they had to drag out of the gigs passed out...(heh-heh).
I have had the "Beatles Number 1" CD for almost six years now (I picked it up right before moving to Las Vegas, thinking that it would help me be a better contributing member of society) but it has only been in the last three months that I have actually started listening to it. It makes me feel better somehow, when nothing else will, and I have now procured "Let it Be" and "HELP!" for my collection as well.
I just never knew.
And I think that I had to be ready, you know...? It is strange to think that they actually existed for real...and that there are still two of them alive still.
I read about them on their website, their AMAZING website, and feel like I missed out on one of the greatest periods in history of all time.
I lament that.

Here is a list of my 15 favorite Beatles songs:
15. Yellow Submarine
14. All you need is love
13. We can work it out
12. Come together
11. Penny Lane
10. Paperback Writer
9. Hello Goodbye
8. Oh-blah-dee-oh-blah-dah
7. You've got to hide your love away
6. Something
5. Michelle (Both of my Parent's favorite)
4. Yesterday
3. Hey Jude
2. Across the Universe
1. Let it Be

My obsession has led me to have impassioned conversations with my parents about the band. My Mom remembers the first time she ever heard the song "Hey Jude" on the radio, it was the night of New Year's Eve 1968, and she and my Gramma were driving back from having just played a dance in Las Vegas. "I had never heard anything like it" she said. And when I talked to my Father about them, and especially about the infamous Ed Sullivan Show appearance, he said (with a look that I have never seen in his face before, a look of wistfulness and gentle pride...) "I saw it." "WHAT?!?!?!" I exclaimed, "you never told me that!" "Yep...'THE BEEEEEATLES!!!!'" he loudly mimicked in his best impersonation of Ed Sullivan, it sounded just like the original. I stared at him in wonder. "What did you think?" I asked. "Well, I sure hadn't heard anything like it before" he said...almost as if he were remembering the first time he had ever heard music at all...I longed to be there with him...where ever that place was that he was drawing those memories from...that place where dreams and memories have married and live together in love...I often wish I could go there with him.
And one night, not too long ago...as I played "Across the Universe" for the first time (as done by the Beatles on the "Let it Be" CD), I imagined the literal MILLIONS of people that have listened to that very song over the years...from Vilnius to Thimphu to Kingston, Jamaica...listening to the outcome of a needle spinning across a world of swirling black vinyl glass...I began to weep uncontrollably... "nothings gonna change my world...nothings gonna change my world."
I understood. I finally understood why.

It's never too late to fall in love.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Ah, the joys of recording indie style. Today I recorded the vocal track for "Pagliaccio", it was truly one of the most desperately indie experiences of my life (besides doing the make up for an indie film two years ago for actors who were supposed to have cancer, we barely made it to "set" in the director's car...but we can talk about that later). First off the owner of the "dungeon" (studio) that we were recording in had never done an audio recording before, so he had nothing set up. (Now, I have to tell you, I am not complaining here, this was all at the peak of humor for me! =) )
And the two mics that he tried kept blowing out the system, so I ended up singing in a resurrected compression mic that looked like an alien with two mini silver antennae!! It was hilarious! Well, the compression mic had nothing to stop the "pops", so we had to wrap a piece of foam around it!!! You all would have died laughing to see me singing into this TEENY little compression mic covered with foam!!! The picture here shows me at first with one of the normal "I am signing for the talent show" mics. After we got the track laid down, the computer died, and I am not kidding, 17 times!!! Loosing everything!!! The poor sound engineer was so stressed out that he didn't know what to do. I kept commenting on how nice and cool it was in the basement studio and then I looked over at him and sweat was pouring down his face, poor guy! Ah, it was the BEST!!! (Unbelievable though how amazingly good the recording sounds.)
As I sat there, watching the stressed out sound engineer who was looking in his "bible" or manual to find out how to "bounce" the track onto a CD, I had to chuckle...and my mind wandered back to that drive to the movie set two years prior, and upon entering the director's 20 year old hatchback, saw that all of the overhead lights were hanging down and swinging by their wires...I did a victory sign with my hand and just thought "INDIE"!!!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Flag Day (God Bless America)

Flag Day in Provo, Utah is a serious affair.
There is a huge American flag retiring ceremony in Downtown Provo that I never miss. This year it was at a large parking lot in front of a grocery store. In the mailer that they sent to all Utah County familes, they printed the starting time for the ceremony as 7:00 P.M., which as it turned out was one hour too early, and I have my suspicions that perhaps that "misprint" was by design. I sat and waited and waited. One of the things that caught my attention was a group of cub scouts sitting in front of me on the baseball style bleachers that had been set up to accommodate the fellow patriotic-flag-burning-hot-dog-eaters. And in this group of boys there was one in particular who was quite precocious and obviously a master at the art of divination. With all of the seriousness in the world he leaned over to his best friends just opened can of 7up, and with the flourish of the wisest sage he bestowed the information that from the way that the top of his friend's can had popped open (a game that kids play) that there was "a girl that like(d) (him), but more than like."
I had to chuckle. This same nine year old blonde boy was screaming obscenities about the President later on in the ceremony....his mother was horrified. Ah, our future is in good hands.
God, please bless America. (Please)