Rejoice by Abigail Winzer features the duduk

Rejoice is the new Christmas release from 16-year-old soprano Abigail Winzer. Even though it’s only October when I write this, one listen to Winzer belting out “O Holy Night” and I’m ready to put up my Christmas tree and usher in the holiday season. It’s that good!

Rejoice includes seven classic Christmas songs that would be great to have playing while assembling and decorating your Christmas tree this year. There’s the gentle “What Child Is This?” and the mysteriously haunting version of “Silent Night.” The Celtic instrumentation, coupled with the use of a unique instrument called the duduk, helps take these Christmas songs to “another place” compared to what you’re used to hearing– these are high-quality, musically-intriguing arrangements.

Now about the duduk… Honestly, I had to look up what a duduk was– it’s not common these days. Have you heard of it ’til now? Turns out a duduk is an ancient double-reed woodwind flute made of apricot wood. Indigenous to Armenia, the duduk is known for helping create a rich, haunting sound. Indeed it does, as played beautifully by musician Arsen Petrosyan on Winzer’s recordings.

Winzer’s goal was to create a holiday album that people would describe as “peaceful and relaxing.” She succeeded. She re-imagines other Christmas classics on Rejoice, including “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “The First Noel,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” All of these songs are a delight to the ears.


Winzer, a North Carolina native, got her start singing in her church choir. As a teen, she received vocal training from Sara Jackson of the Boston Conservatory. She also attended the Fine Arts Summer Academy in Nashville, where she ended up singing on stage at the Grand Ole Opry with Country singer Josh Turner. Now, with her debut, Abigail Winzer is ready to start her own solo career as a singer. Definitely check her lovely sound out here so you can be one of the people to say, “I knew her before she was famous!”



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Dave Rudolf offers clever folk and country songs

Dave Rudolf is prolific– he just sent me his 31st and 32nd albums. He calls All Folked Up Volume 3 a “sort of loving mockumentary ala Mighty Wind or Spinal Tap.” The other one, Let It Roll, is “a singer/songwriter album of mine that covers a wide variety of genres.”

Dave Rudolf

Let It Roll starts off with the title track, and it sounds like Americana-Country-Blues, complete with Rudolf’s deep voice reminding me of Elvis Costello, Steve Tyrell, Bob Dylan and Randy Newman. Later on, among the 15 tracks, there’s a cover of the jazzy song “Glory of Love.” My favorite track, though, has got to be “You’re Getting Old,” a Country song that has lyrics that’ll make you laugh: “You can grow hair on your rear, in your nose and in your ears, but on your head it disappears; let’s face it, you’re old.” I just might ask him for the chords to “You’re Getting Old” so I can sing it at Buffalo-area Senior homes where I entertain old folks– I think they will LOVE this song.

All Folked Up Volume 3 is all over the place musically. Often comedic with his lyrics, I especially like Rudolf’s “Protesting Protesters” song. He also surprises me with songs like “Mangled Tango,” a silly-lyric tango that showcases Rudolf’s ability to sing any kind of song. Proving he’s adept, Rudolf even manages to sound like a pirate on the sea shanty “Mutiny on the Bounty,” which reminded me of the kind of song I heard at the Tall Ships festival this past summer in Erie, PA. If you want to dance, the cajun tune “Bordeaux’s Hot Sauce” will get your feet movin’. Fans of Jimmy Buffett will appreciate Rudolf’s Calypso song “Coconut Head,” which is about men and women– with the woman calling the man a “Coconut Head.” Finally, I want you to hear “Wurst is the Best,” which is a German polka song that is so cleverly written you’ll want to press repeat, even if you’re not into polka. All together, All Folked Up Volume 3 will put a smile on your face; Rudolf excels at singing and writing a wide variety of crowd-pleasers in multiple genres.

Find out more about Dave Rudolf at his website here.

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KZehRah the thinking man’s rapper

KZehRah intrigues me. He describes himself as a “secular rapper and producer turned Christian” who at one time “could be found assisting the engineer of Wu-Tang’s cult-classic album 36 Chambers.” Of course I had to know more, so I asked some questions and got some answers.

What did assisting the engineer entail?

“As a client at Firehouse Studios in NYC, I basically became an intern to Yoram Vazan and I got to sit in on many of the tracking sessions of Ethan Ryman as he engineered the first Wu-Tang album,” says KZehRah.

After that, he spent time producing unknown emcees and singers in East New York (Brooklyn). It proved to be both an educational and emotional time for him. He dealt with all sorts of egos, endured some unprofessional experiences, saw a lot of talent, and, ultimately, would have “liked to see more fruit from all the seeds planted.”

What did KZehRah learn about the music business back then, that’s still relevant today? He learned that it’s not so much about being the all-time best (greatest) rapper or singer or producer. Rather, “You had to be great at networking,” he says. “I picked that up a little late.”

Over the years the better late than never music maker has worn many hats. He has been a DJ, emcee, producer, songwriter, audio engineer, graphic designer and photographer. At one time he went by the moniker Vultcha, but today he’s KZehRah. The name comes from the first letter of his given first name, Keith, followed by what he calls a ‘hood’ way to say “Sera,” like the old saying “Que Sera Sera.” Put that all together and you get “Keith will be what he will be.” Clever.

KZehRah makes thinking man’s music, the kind that can lead people to change their mind or heart after hearing his lyrics. Using music as a platform for whatever’s on his heart, KZehRah counts EPMD, Rakim, Marley Marl (and the whole Juice Crew), Jungle Brothers and De La Soul among his early influences.

Hear his music here:

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Christian Singer Julie Slih releases new EP “Whole Again”

Upon first hearing the singer Julie Slih, I noticed her vibrato. Her rich voice reminded me of Stephanie Mills.

Slih is a contemporary Christian singer from Atlanta, though she was actually born in Central Africa. It’s no wonder, then, that she sings (and posts on Facebook) in both English and French. Her new release, Whole Again, is in both languages.

Born Juliette D. Fomekong in Cameroon, Julie Slih started singing as a young child in school and church programs. Her father taught her to read and write music. Eventually, she dedicated her life to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and became active in God’s work and missions.

“For so long, I lived an aimless life, wandering here and there, but never settling anywhere, looking for a true friend/ happiness, and still could not find it,” she writes on her facebook page. “But one day, I came across someone who turned my life around and made all things new. He gave me a new name, a new life… He made something beautiful of me. His name is Jesus.”

Julie Slih

Despite her young age, Julie Slih has lived “a lot of life” and these experiences have come to enhance her perspective and create her heartfelt and uplifting worship music.

When she’s not singing, some of her other passions include learning different languages, fashion styling, cooking, fitness/health and spending time with her hubby and their three beautiful kids.

Like most artists today, rather than releasing a full-length album she’s releasing an EP. It’s entitled Whole Again and consists of five tracks: “He Loves You Anyway,” “Devant Le Trone,” “Whole Again,” “Toi Seul Es Mon Roi,” and “Love That Heals.” I especially like hearing her sing in French, since that’s not something I hear everyday.

Ultimately, Julie Slih makes music to encourage and inspire people to go deeper with Jesus Christ.

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