Young duo spreads holiday cheer
Lifelong friends Kate Frey and Sara Baker have always been surrounded by music, so it was only a matter of time before they came together with their talents. Just weeks ago, they debuted their first joint project, an acoustic holiday album, “Pure Christmas.” Even more impressive, at 18 and 16 years old, respectively, Frey and Baker have already accomplished more than most people at their age.
“We started singing together for fun, now and then,” said Frey, “and eventually, it turned into Christmas carols two years back.”
The girls would perform at special church services and around the holiday times at Hudson’s Country Store, a staple in the area that was started by Frey’s grandparents 18 years ago.
“People would come up to us at the store and tell us that they thought they were listening to a CD when they walked in,” Frey continued. “It was very flattering and shocking, and we decided maybe it was something we should think about it.”
She and Baker had always wanted to produce their own recording, and just recently they got their chance.
“When we were setting up last year,” said Frey, “[Norwood Truitt] approached us about recording our singing.”
Truitt, a member of the Dagsboro Town Council, has had his hand in audio recording for quite some time. He was thrilled to hear of the girls’ interest in the festive album. With equipment set up right inside Prince George’s Chapel, it took only a month before their voices were transposed to disc.
The CD, titled “Pure Christmas,” includes seasonal classics, such as “Carol of the Bells,” “Silent Night” and “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing,” as well as “A Star Shown Down,” an original song written by Kate Frey. Kate’s mother, Kim Frey, also provided vocals on two of the tracks.
“It was a lot of fun working with the girls on this project,” said Kim Frey. “It came out perfectly, and I’m glad I was able to be there with them. [The album] went a lot smoother than I thought it would. Everything came together nicely, without too much difficulty.”
Though talk of the recording had been ongoing since last year, the actual process itself developed rapidly.
“Everything fell into place,” Frey said. “There were times when we thought about doing a lot of different things, but it ended up being just Sara and me.”
At one point, friends with other musical talents, including the Maryland band String Dusters, were considered for some of the tracks, though ultimately, Frey and Baker settled on an acoustic holiday collection.
Frey has accompanied the String Dusters in the past, improving her skills on the hammer dulcimer. Growing up, early piano lessons have helped her segue into other instruments, including Celtic harp, Irish whistle and guitar.
Baker’s mother, Beth, is a singing instructor and the first Soprano II to be named at the state level, so Baker has had her foot in the musical door ever since she could talk.
“I’ve been singing as long as I can remember,” Sara Baker said, “and started taking piano lessons at a very young age.”
Her talent has since progressed to guitar, bass guitar and Irish whistle. And she, too, has written some of her own music.
“Every year, I’ve either learned something new or started expanding on other instruments that I feel like picking up.”
She currently attends Sussex Tech, where she plays trumpet in the band and keeps her vocal chords in shape with the choir. Despite the pressure to follow four generations of musical accomplishments, she has enjoyed it all. Her mother, to whom she credits much of her talent, has helped train her over the years, as have the Freys.
Working inside Prince George’s Chapel helped the duo capture exactly the music Truitt had envisioned. “The acoustics in the church were wonderful,” said Truitt, “and the reverb was fantastic.”
The girls were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. “When we first heard ourselves, we had no clue that our voices had blended the way they did,” Frey said.
Truitt was anxious to get the project under way.
“Audio recording has always been a hobby of mine,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed doing things like this, off and on, since I was 20.” This album was Truitt’s first project formatted to CD and he’s optimistic about the possibilities that have opened up as a result.
“It all turned out very well,” he said. “The girls have incredible voices and it was great to have the chance to work with them. I’m definitely looking forward to other projects with them in the future.”
The two friends were able to bring their original sounds together for “Pure Christmas,” Kate Frey, with a strong Christian, folk influence, and Sara Baker, with a more traditional tone in her singing.
“We have our own sounds that we bring together, and it works pretty well,” said Sara Baker. The two have not yet worked together on an original piece, though it’s definitely not out of the question, they said.
Both girls, now relaxing with their families for the holidays, plan to come together in the near future and produce an additional album.
“I’d like to do a CD of originals and possibly another with some friends of mine that play,” said Kate Frey.
Their current CD, “Pure Christmas,” is now available for $10. The CDs can be purchased at Hudson’s General Store, located just off of Iron’s Lane in Clarksville, across from ACTS. Although the store will be closing for the winter season through late February, customers will be able to pick up a CD or browse their antiques, collectibles and folk art for a special New Year’s sale on Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
In addition, CDs can be purchased through e-mail request at Kate@DaffodilHillStudio.com or by phone at (302) 537-2172.
Frey and Baker will also be performing at the Prince George’s Olde Christmas Musical Celebration at Prince George’s Chapel on Jan. 6, at 1 p.m., alongside numerous other local choruses and musicians, and a bell choir.