COMPOSER: Charleene Closshey
CONTRIBUTORS: Charleene Closshey, Derek Wieland, Nick & Liesl, Tammy Hyler, Shaye Smith, Charles Yingling
LABEL: Satya Records (artist’s independent label)
Award-winning multi-instrumentalist composer/actress/singer Charleene Closshey first appeared on stage at the age of 2, the same year she began reading music and studying classical piano. She’s performed on Broadway, starred in major motion pictures, topped Billboard’s Top 40 Hot AC charts, sang opera and classical vocal concerts throughout Italy, fiddled with Charlie Daniels, and received a papal blessing by Pope Francis for her musical compositions (among other things). Closshey’s artistic diversity radiates an ethereal complexity in her writings and performances, with “shimmering vocals” that “feel almost of a bygone era” even lauded to “break the mold”.
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Charleene Closshey ignites her classical music training and Irish heritage to create music heard on global airwaves with her award-winning compositions performed by national orchestras & choirs across the globe.
Closshey debuted on Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical “Once” later joining the National Tour. On screen, Closshey is best known for her work in indie dramedy “No Postage Necessary”, the first film in history to release using blockchain technology available to stream for cryptocurrency; she also composed the film score and produced the movie through its domestic theatrical run. Critics raved, “‘No Postage Necessary’ fully exploits Closshey’s talents.”
Closshey starred in and composed the score for holiday film “An Evergreen Christmas” starring beside Academy Award nominee Robert Loggia and Grammy winner Naomi Judd; she sings the title track “Evergreen” on screen. Said Judd of Closshey’s voice: “It’s as crystal clear as a cool mountain spring.” Closshey subsequently received a Best Actress nomination for her work in the film (also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director) at the California Independent Film Festival. The film won Audience Choice at AMFM Fest.
As a violinist, she has opened for Kansas and performed with Josh Groban, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Steamroller, and Irish Tenor Ronin Tynan.
Her first radio single “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” penetrated the 2018 Mediabase Main Stream AC Chart Top 40 peaking at #18 alongside Pentatonix, John Legend, and Sia. The single then leaped to Top 30 on Billboard charts, peaking at #24 on Christmas Day after a three week chart run. A remixed/remastered version hit holiday airwaves 2019, this time sitting Top 20 with Charleene as Top 5 Most Spun Indie Artist on radio. The track was Most Added Upon Release, Top 30 All Formats Chart, and Top 40 A/C Chart (all songs holiday & non-holiday). The single also hit iTunes Top 200 Pop Charts (#123). The track turned Recurrent in 2020, spinning Top 30 all season. Produced by 6-time Grammy winner Brent Maher (Tina Turner, The Judds), the track shines with Closshey’s own arrangement of classic Johnny Marks’ holiday tune with Bulgaria’s National Orchestra and Choir performers.
Closshey’s first holiday full length album “Christmas Time is Here” opens with “I Heard the Bells” features Steinway Artist pianist Derek Wieland (TransSiberian Orchestra), drummer Nir Zidkyahu (Genesis, Blake Shelton, Chris Cornell), and guitarist Joe Robinson (Tommy Emmanuel). The album shines with Closshey’s original composition “Ave Maria” featuring the internationally acclaimed Sofia Boys Choir. An original choral arrangement of her “Ave Maria” won a Christmas Carol Composition Competition with live performance by the 150-voice Master Chorale of Tampa Bay; the performance later aired on WUSF/National Public Radio.
Closshey hails from Plant City, Florida, the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. She attended the Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts High School as a violin performance major, graduating Valedictorian and Senior Class President; she earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida Southern College with concentrations in Marketing and Exercise Science. Closshey studied at The Juilliard School, New York University, Berklee Music, and Circle in the Square Theatre School.
Pianist, composer and arranger Derek Wieland is a Juilliard graduate (Pre-College, BA, MM) whose technique, artistic prowess and genre-crossing versatility has received critical acclaim in performances throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and South America.
As a concert pianist, Wieland has performed at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, with the Cleveland Orchestra and others. In 1987, he was the first pianist to win the Seventeen Magazine/General Motors Concerto Competition (violinist Joshua Bell won five years earlier).
“I started out with a classical foundation in my music training,” noting that during his teenage years, his interests began to diversify. “When I got to Juilliard as an undergraduate, I branched out. I was putting together jazz and rock gigs, and I accompanied a baroque dance class for the dance department.” Wieland’s love of electronic music inspired him to open Uptime Studios, a recording studio in Midtown NYC that Wieland led while working on his master’s degree.
Wieland composed, music directed, and performed The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park: Othello, his contemporary score praised by the New York Times to “have done double duty for an episode of Showtime’s The Tudors.” Wieland has collaborated in additional theatre, film, and live performance projects, including the theatrical work “Things of Dry Hours” directed by R. Santiago-Hudson, “Feather: A Musical Portrait” (New York Musical Theatre Festival), and “An Evergreen Christmas” (Netflix).
A lover of rock and roll music, Wieland has an extensive pop/rock repertoire, performing on Al Di Meola’s LP “All Your Life (A Tribute To The Beatles Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London)” and working with six-time Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer, Brent Maher, on several Nashville records.
Since 2006, Wieland has served as Music Director for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, conducting and performing on tour in 105 shows in 61 cities each year to millions of TSO fans. His piano playing and arrangements are heard on many TSO recordings.
Wieland’s live radio and television appearances cross genres from classical concerts on New York’s WQXR Classical Radio with David Dubal’s “Reflections from the Keyboard,” to progressive rock music on Jimmy Fallon and Live with Kelly and Michael.
Growing up in Long Island, Wieland began to play piano at the age of 5 and entered Juilliard Pre-College at age 11. At Juilliard, he studied with legendary pianist György Sándor (a prominent student of classical composer Béla Bartók).
With roots in both Sweden and Australia, Nick Everitt and Liesl Karlsson’s influences are wide: from folk music to pop and blues and soul, the duo fuses infectious melodies with insightful lyrics, beautiful voices, and trademark harmonies. With multiple award-winning LP and EP releases, they have performed at over 60 festivals in Australia and abroad, including The Woodford Folk Festival. The critically acclaimed album “Feather” (2011) and the EP’s “Friend and Lover” (2013) and “Wyong River” (2008) spin in national and local airplay in both Australia and throughout Europe. The duo boasts BBC radio performances as well. As songwriters, Nick and Liesl have also written for film and theatre, with tracks featuring in U.S. musical theatre piece “Feather: A Musical Portrait” premiering Off Broadway at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Critics rave Nick and Liesl have “a sibling-like capacity for natural harmony. Watching them perform is delightful and inspiring, and it is easy to connect with their light sounds of guitar and piano blended with thoughtful lyrics and trademark harmonies making their sound instantly recognisable.”
Tammy Hyler’s music career began as a country music performer in Los Angeles, where she performed in popular LA venues The Palomino, The Central (now The Viper Room), Marix on Sunset, The Trubador, and The Roxbury on Sunset. Eventually, Nashville’s pull was too strong to resist, and in 1993, Hyler moved to the Music City. Before long, Hyler’s songs were being recorded by many of country music’s top singers. Her first #1 was Collin Raye’s “I Can Still Feel You,” soon followed by Martina McBride’s #1 hit “I Love You,” Martina’s biggest radio hit of her career. The song spent five weeks at the top of the charts and was featured in the Julia Roberts movie, Runaway Bride.
Throughout her time in Nashville, Tammy amassed a catalog of hits and recordings from Journey, George Strait, Shania Twain, Julio Iglesias, Jr., Pam Tillis with additional recordings by Martina McBride, Collin Raye, and others. Hyler’s songs are in hundreds of television shows and major motion pictures, including the Rene Zellweger/Harry Connick Jr. movie”New In Town. In 2013, Hyler produced her first motion picture Like A Country Song starring Billy Ray Cyrus, Joel Smallbone, and Boo Boo Stewart (Twilight saga, X-Men: Days of Future Past). She co-wrote and co-produced nine of the movie’s songs including the radio single/title track by Billy Ray Cyrus. In 2015, she associate produced the film I’m Not Ashamed, the true story of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the 1999 Columbine high school shootings. Hyler is wrote the title song and score for documentary Lost in America.
Tammy Hyler’s songs have appeared on more than 25 Million albums sold worldwide. She has received numerous ASCAP Awards and a Dove Award nomination.
If not for a knee injury, All-American basketball player Shaye Smith may have never become a Grammy nominated songwriter songwriter.
Within her first two years writing in Nashville, Shaye landed her first cut, which turned out to be her first #1 – “One Boy, One Girl” by Collin Raye. Her next 3 radio singles also made it to #1 – Kenny Chesney’s “That’s Why I’m Here,” Chely Wright’s “Single White Female,” and Jamie O’Neal’s “There Is No Arizona.” Shaye followed those up with the top 5 hits, “Songs About Me” by Trace Adkins, “I Should Be Sleeping” by Emerson Drive, “Complicated” by Carolyn Dawn Johnson, and “Somebody’s Hero” by Jamie O’Neal. Her Martina McBride track “How Far” made it to #11 with Jamie O’Neal’s “Shiver” landing at #19. To date, Smith has had more than ten #1 singles worldwide, including the biggest pop hit ever in New Zealand, and nearly twenty top 40 hits in the U.S. alone.
Smith won the CCMA Song of the Year for “Complicated” and the Carolyn Dawn Johnson tune “Die Of A Broken Heart.” She took home the Music Row Magazine Song of the Year for “There Is No Arizona” before garnering a Grammy nomination for “Arizona” and receiving a Dove Award nomination. Smith has amassed 9 BMI country awards and 1 BMI pop award.
More than 100 of Shaye’s songs have been recorded by major artists, including Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Collin Raye, Trace Adkins, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Sara Evans, Jamie O’Neal, Chely Wright, Jewel, Billy Ray Cyrus, Five for Fighting, JoDee Messina. Smith collaborated with Tammy Hyler to co-write and co-produce 9 songs for the Billy Ray Cyrus movie, Like A Country Song and actually worked in the studio with Billy Ray Cyrus to co-produce the title track, which became a radio single.
Nashville’s Grammy-winning engineer/producer Charles Yingling is best known for his unique fusion of analog and digital sounds, having worked alongside famed producers Fred Foster (Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison) and Brent Maher (The Judds, Kenny Rogers). Yingling has engineered sessions for numerous music legends including Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Vince Gill, Taj Mahal, Dobie Gray, Wynonna, and Kenny Rogers.
Yingling helped develop the characteristic sounds of the 4-sister band SHEL (ABC & CBS series show) and Irish singer/songwriter Gareth Dunlop (Safe Haven, Nashville).
Yingling is currently producing the unmistakable sounds for young Nashville talents singer/songwriter Shannon LaBrie (NPR’s “Top 20 of 2020”), psychedelic space rock band Flight Attendant, and Carly Moffa (American Idol). Many of his tracks are heard throughout television, film, and commercials. Yingling most often works on analog tape and a Trident TSM 1978 console. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences.
It may have been time consuming, but being the perfectionist that she is, Charleene Closshey has delivered some of her best work to date and something that will bring you a lot of festive cheer in an otherwise difficult time this season.- V13 Media (Canada)
[“My Tennessee Home”] is a country song where you immediately feel homesick. It’s soft, warm and comfortable…both romantic and nostalgic.- Rockfarbror (Sweden)
Supporting the film’s big city/small town themes, Charleene fuses Americana/Roots vibes with Electronic sounds into the album’s twenty tracks.- Fanfare Cafe Entertainment Magazine
Charleene Closshey’s freshman score for the award-winning motion picture An Evergreen Christmas is anything but rookie. Her honest approach infuses life into onscreen action, subtly transcending a single time of year. Her music captures familiar raw emotions. Performing both onscreen and in the soundtrack, Closshey’s sonorous voice sweetly enriches the movie music landscape as an elegiac fiddle twang and brisk Americana percussions she and bandmates play evoke the perfect accompaniment for the film’s story of ‘home for the holidays’ in the mountains of Tennessee. The film’s award-winning director Jeremy Culver considers An Evergreen Christmas: Music from the Motion Picture to be “a score listeners will reach for year after year, because it just makes you feel that good.”
“It was a really supernatural feat for Charleene to create this score under the time and resource constraint she faced,” says award-winning film director Jeremy Culver. “She created a score that would have normally taken twice the time and three times the music staff to muster and did it in half the time with a handful of musician friends, one microphone, a borrowed fiddle, and an intense desire to serve the story. I’ve never seen anything like it. She’s a force of nature.”
The music lingers in your ear like your grandmother’s pumpkin pie.
Closshey’s first holiday album “Christmas Time is Here” (2019) was produced by multi-Grammy award winner Brent Maher, with a lot of time to be creative. “Evergreen” was quickly self-produced by Closshey under a deadline in her living room in Los Angeles “with my trusty 24-note keyboard and a rented violin”, while the “main film vocals were created in proper studios without added rush.”
Mixed and mastered by Charles Yingling at Blueroom Studios in Nashville, the twenty track album Evergreen opens with the title track and the bucolic “My Tennessee Home,” gorgeously setting the stage for a story told in crystalline lyrics and the resonant swirling of melodic guitars, strings, and mandolins throughout the cinematic score.
There is resplendent depth and resonant grace to the exquisite instrumentals of these songs, but surprises as well, such as Brantley Pollock’s guest turn on “Apple of Your Eye,” which is a heart-wrenching ode to a beloved’s passing mingled with “Amazing Grace” on violin. (Pollock plays Closshey’s younger brother in the film.) Adding to the vocals is the multi-talented cinematographer for the Evergreen film itself Jeff M. Osborne.
Title track “Evergreen” and “Apple of Your Eye” were written by Australian husband/wife duo Nick Everitt and Liesl Karlsson, who have a band under their first two names, and “My Tennessee Home” was composed by Nashville hit-songwriting team Tammy Hyler and Shaye Smith. The score is all Charleene Closshey.
“In the film industry, we say a movie is written three times,” Closshey says. “Once in the script by the writer, once on set by the directors and actors, and once in post-production by the editor and post team. It was an incredible experience to have the opportunity to contribute to two-thirds of that process!”
Closshey was born and raised in Plant City, Florida — “the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World” which features huge mainstream country concerts — and her songs and score for “Evergreen” sounds like its music could have been played next to a festive bonfire at twilight anywhere in the USA.
“The process of taking a script I knew inside and out as an actor, and then reimagining its story from an audience’s perspective was breathtakingly and painstakingly glorious,” Closshey says. “It challenged me to get outside my own notions, to release my ego, and to serve the Story. Not what I had in my own mind, but what was true to the story now on the screen. I think that’s one reason I really enjoy scoring movies, especially ones in which I’ve acted. It’s a new challenge – a different way to storytell.”
“I’m amazed by how many people tell me some of these songs have become a huge part of their lives, from being a now-favorite holiday song they stream year around, to even becoming songs of solace in a time of loss and grief (which is one of the themes in the film),” Closshey explains. “You just never know how a song will hit a soul. My prayer is, whomever these songs touch, may they do so with a gentle balm and healing happiness. The whole experience of creating the score really opened me up as an artist – there were experiences and people and situations which really challenged and confronted my once comfortable perspective. And I think those moments live in the music.”
“Evergreen” is Closshey’s fifth album she has released and the first of several feature film soundtracks Closshey has scored. With her natural perfectionist tendencies, it took her years to release the music; she even re-recorded the vocal tracks from the soundtrack for the album release. “It’s true for wine and music – time makes everything a little sweeter,” she says.- Chris Estey