Jennifer Leitham | Future Christmas

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Future Christmas

by Jennifer Leitham

A modern, creative, even futuristic take on the winter holidays from master musicians, with themes of love, family, social consciousness, deep feeling, passion and lots of fun!
Genre: Holiday: Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Angels We Have Heard On High
4:35 $0.99
2. Future Christmas (The Global Warming Winter Holiday Blues)
5:02 $0.99
3. Christmas Time Is Here
5:01 $0.99
4. Feels Like Home for Christmas
5:09 $0.99
5. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
4:20 $0.99
6. Nature's Blessing
5:44 $0.99
7. Little Drummer Boy / Big Bass Girl
6:13 $0.99
8. Winter Wonderland
2:35 $0.99
9. Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)
3:07 $0.99
10. Jingle Bells
4:01 $0.99
11. O Tannenbaum
3:31 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Liner Notes, Jennifer's Bio, Future Christmas Reviews:

Future Christmas Liner Notes

Everyone has their own ideas about the meaning of the winter holiday season.
There are many faiths that celebrate a holiday around the time of the winter solstice, and they all have much in common.
For me, the common thread is the love of one's family, (relations or not), and the celebration of one's home and hearth, whatever the circumstance.
In the family tradition that I was raised in, we celebrated the Christmas holiday season in the same way as many American families do, we exchanged presents, decorated the tree, put up the outdoor lights, went caroling and happily consumed my mom's fantastic holiday cuisine.
Although those practices didn't have a lot to do with any religious significance, we bonded over them and celebrated the joy of our relationships. To me, that is the true meaning of the holiday season, illuminating those long dark days, cherishing those we love, spending time together, and hoping for a bright future.
With this in mind, I hope you enjoy my musical celebration of the winter holiday season!

Angels We Have Heard On High
(traditional) 4:27

My arrangement for this timeless composition was inspired by a version that Randy Drake and I played with the great trombonist Bill Watrous. We've played in his quartet for decades and Randy has played in my trio almost as long. I love the joy of this piece. It is our boisterous introduction as each member of the trio steps forward to shine.

Future Christmas
(The Global Warming Winter Holiday Blues)
(Jennifer Leitham) 5:03 Sinistral Music BMI

When I first put my mind to writing an original Christmas tune, it occurred to me that most of the non religious songs were about snow all over the place. When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, it seemed that every winter there was a White Christmas. In today's world, it is increasingly rare. Our way of living is being threatened like never before. It's up to us to connect with our inner voice, drive the bus, and celebrate changing the paradigm.

Christmas Time Is Here
(Vince Guaraldi, Lee Mendelson) 5:02
Lee Mendelson Film Prod., Inc BMI

The Charlie Brown Christmas animated special contained some of the first Jazz music that I ever was exposed to. I loved this Vince Guaraldi tune then and it still is one of my favorites. Monty Budwig, (who later became a dear friend and mentor), played the first bass solo I ever heard on the soundtrack album. When I played on Mel Torme's “Christmas Songs” CD, we played this arrangement. Mel was very receptive to my ideas about the approach we took to this tune, the only change he made was adding some chord substitutions during the piano solo chorus. It
wound up becoming a holiday classic. One of my proudest moments.

Feels Like Home For Christmas
5:18 Iʼll Be Home For Christmas - (Kent, Gannon, Ram) Gannon and Kent Music Co,
Piedmont Music Co ASCAP / Feels Like Home, (Randy Newman) WB Music Corp ASCAP

Home can be anywhere, regardless of circumstance, and Randy Newman's tune makes “home” a concept that can be about people as much as a place. Some of us are on a continual journey to find “home”. It gives a whole new meaning to ”I'll Be Home For Christmas”.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
4:26 (Martin, Blaine) EMI Feist Catalog Inc ASCAP

Or a merry big one!!

Nature's Blessing
(Trad, Hector Berlioz, Jennifer Leitham)
5:47 Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella / The Shepherdʼs Farewell from The
Childhood of Christ with original Natureʼs Blessing lyric by Jennifer Leitham
Sinistral Music BMI

The two French songs that I combine here both were originally written in the spirit of a civilization pinning it's hopes and dreams on the backs of children. My new lyric, set to the beautiful music of Hector Berlioz, turns that idea around. It asks
for a new Divine Providence, that which must come from our collective, living human spirit, as we work to make a better present and future for all children now and for those to come.

Little Drummer Boy / Big Bass Girl
6:20 Big Bass Girl (Leitham) Sinistral Music BMI / Little Drummer Boy (Davis, Onorati,Simeone)
EMI Mills Music Inc International Korwin Corp ASCAP

Randy and I go on a holiday inspired romp. We're such old friends and we always have hooked up so well musically. Last year, during one of our holiday shows, I asked him to join me on this piece that I usually play solo. In this studio version, it was much the same, I just started playing and we made it up as we went along.

Winter Wonderland
2:36 (Bernard, Smith) WB Music Corp ASCAP

Thought I'd throw in something a little more traditional.

Blue Christmas
3:08 (Bob Dorough) Irving Music Inc,
OBO Sincere Music BMI

I tried singing this piece in keys that suited my vocal range, but it just didn't have the same dark impact that I sought. My friend Bob Dorough is a true musical genius, this epic composition was an important message that he sent to the world when he recorded it with Miles Davis in 1962. It rings true now more than ever. When I spoke to him about recording my version, he sent the original arrangement that he wrote for Miles and some newer ones he wrote for his own groups. I combined elements of all, and then sang it in Bob's key. Obviously it's out of my range but in my humble opinion, in going for the low notes, the gravel helps to amplify the dark message. Sorry if it scares you, it's intentional!

Jingle Bells
(James Lord Pierpont ) 4:00

Imagine the unbridled joy of kids on Christmas morning, full of sugar and racing around the tree and crashing through the wrapping paper. Pianist Andy Langham is experiencing the joy of his young ones as his family
celebrates their first holiday traditions. His playing captures the joy impeccably.

O Tannenbaum
(traditional) 3:33

Back in the day, one of my holiday traditions was to play O Tannenbaum for that year's tree. A loving tribute from one piece of spruce to another.....

On behalf of my musical family and good friends Andy Langham and Randy Drake, and all who made this project possible, we wish you and yours joyous love and Happy Holidays!
- Jennifer Leitham

Featuring The Jennifer Leitham Trio
Jennifer Leitham bass, vocals, water drops, sleighbells
Andy Langham piano
Randy Drake drums, sleighbells

All arrangements by Jennifer Leitham
except for Natureʼs Blessing
arranged by Jennifer Leitham and Scott Whitfield
and Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)
arranged by Jennifer Leitham and Bob Dorough

Producer - Jennifer Leitham
Executive Producers - Jo Ann Martin, Saul Kent, and Roberta Conroy
Recording Engineer - Andy Waterman
Electronic Witch - Sharon Brackett
Photography by Maria Brunner Ventura

Jennifer's Bio:
About Jennifer Leitham:

“left handed virtuoso of the upright bass”
- Leonard Feather
Her story is compelling. Her journey has been most unconventional. Her career is groundbreaking as she attempts to bring a sense of normalcy to a subject that many people don’t understand, all the while proudly displaying her exceptional skills. She is considered by many to be be one of the finest Jazz bassists in the world.

She began her life with the name John Leitham. In her professional life, she had played with numerous big names, including Woody Herman, George Shearing, Bob Cooper, Bill Watrous, and Peggy Lee. She was Mel Tormé’s bassist for ten years.
For most of that time, she was also a bandleader and studio musician, playing on over one hundred recordings, including five discs under her own name. She married, settled in L.A., but all that while, was struggling to deal with and keep secret her gender identity. Finally, in a process that was lengthy and painful, physically and emotionally, she transitioned in 2001 while touring with Doc Severinsen.

She has maintained a vigorous career throughout and has achieved much acclaim and acceptance.

Jennifer has been a featured artist at at many of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals and clubs. She has recently performed as a guest or appeared with her trio at some of the finest venues in the world, including The Blue Note, Iridium, Kitano, Small’s, and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York, The Toronto Pride Fest, The Bohem Festival in Budapest and The Louis Armstrong Jazz Festival in Bank, Hungary, Breda Jazz Fest in the Netherlands; Münster Jazz Festival in France; Yamaha Jazz Festival in Hamamatsu, Japan, Catalina’s, Vitello’s, blue whale, The Lighthouse, The Warner Grand and Renberg Theaters in Los Angeles, Boston Court PAC in Pasadena, KSDS Jazz Live at the Saville Theater and Dizzy’s in San Diego, Mammoth Lakes, Sweet and Hot, and Sacramento Festivals in California, Blues Alley, Washington DC, Prescott Jazz Summit, Arizona, Milford Center for the Arts, Connecticut, The Black Box Theater at Centenary College and Shanghai Jazz in New Jersey, the Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Pa, the Deer Head Inn in the Delaware Water Gap, Pa and a host of others.

Her recent CDs are a reflection of her passion for the medium of the classic jazz trio. However, this “classic trio” features the bass as the lead voice throughout and highlights both Jennifer’s original compositions, arrangements, and her superb vocals.

Jennifer’s highly anticipated new CD, MOOD(S)WINGS, has garnered much acclaim since it’s release in 2015. The International Review of Music implores “Do not miss out on this gem.”
Her Future Christmas was 2014’s top selling holiday album on CD Baby.
Other recent CDs include the critically acclaimed Left Coast Story (2008), a collection of requests from her loyal fans, and an all original tour de force, The Real Me (2006), her most popular CD to date. It announced to the world her true identity, both as a musician and a person.
Her DVD The Real Me Live is a live in concert rendering of the music from the groundbreaking CD. The 2011 release, also available as an audio download, is “crackling with intensity, passion, and virtuosity!”
Leitham’s other internationally renowned CD’s include Two for the Road (1999), Live (1997) Lefty Leaps In (1996) The Southpaw (1992) Leitham Up (1988) and the audio download The Real Me Live (2011)

Her life story is featured in the award winning documentary, “I Stand Corrected.” Honored with 11 Best Film Audience and Jury Awards, it blazed a trail at film festivals around the world in 2012.

She was awarded the 2014 Community Leader Angel Award at the Angels of Change event benefitting the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. This award is given annually to an individual for continuous support and advocacy toward the advancement of trans youth in the community.

In 2015, she was featured on U.S. newsstands as one of the top 20 pioneers in Vanity Fair’s “Trans America” Special Collector’s Edition.

In 2016, she is profiled in the L.A. Weekly as one of the “50 Most Interesting Angelinos.”

Here is what the critics are saying about Jennifer :
“The world that Leitham has moved in since the early í80s has been at the center of the highest levels of jazz performance. More than 100 recordings as an A-list bassist, eight CDs of her own, long-term stints with Mel Tormé, Doc Severinsen and the Woody Herman Thundering Herd as well as appearances with the likes of Gerry Mulligan, Joe Pass, Louis Bellson, Bill Watrous, Cleo Laine and dozens of others attest to the far-ranging versatility of her playing”. – JazzTimes 2009, Don Heckman.

“As a soloist, Leitham is in a class by herself. At the core of her powers are a rich plummy sound, an astonishing virtuosity, unerring intonation and a deep sense of swing. Leitham’s trio, to borrow from the argot of rock, is a power group extraordinaire.” – Topeka Capitol Journal 2009, Chuck Berg

“Left handed virtuoso of the upright bass.” – Los Angeles Times, Leonard Feather“

…prodigious technique and improvisatory prowess promptly erase any emotion except awe.” – 52nd St. Jazz, Robert Bragonier

“Combining her astonishing virtuosity with some exquisite soul, Jennifer Leitham brings in her trio to celebrate the success of her latest album, The Real Me. Some nice tunes on that one. She, (and her trio), make an organic whole that is really something live … and something that all kinds of fans get into.” – LA Weekly – Brick Wahl

“Jennifer Leitham is an extremely compelling diva of the upright acoustic bass. She is one of the few practitioners of her instrument, of any gender, genre, or generation, who can completely command my attention with what is, essentially, an entire set of bass solos.” – Wall Street Journal, Will Friedwald

“Her harmonically complex, fluid, yet often delightfully tough and percussive attack on the bass has made her one of the instrument’s greatest practitioners in the jazz world for several decades now.” – The International Review of Music 2014, Devon Wendell

“Last night at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, Jennifer Leitham celebrated the release of her new CD MOOD(S)WINGS. As advertised, the music took the huge crowd on a roller coaster ride of emotions from the depths of despair and sadness to total elation. Jennifer played, sang and entertained with great passion in every possible emotional direction. It was a great evening and it’s a great CD!” – Jazzography 2015, Bob Barry

“Jennifer Leitham’s MOOD(S)WINGS is one of the hippest jazz “crossover” albums to surface in many years. Leitham’s virtuosic bass skills added with her warm vocals, sly lyrics and masterful trio (Andy Langham on piano and Randy Drake on drums) create a delightfully distinct mood within each composition. Only Leitham and her trio could cover Clare Fischer’s “Cascade Of Seven Waterfalls”, The Beatles’ “You Won’t See Me”, and Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism” all on the same album and present it in a way that makes perfect sense as well as making it sound both fresh and beautiful.
Leitham proves to be a true poet with a songwriting style as unique as her bass playing and composing. On original compositions such as “Riverside Romp”, “Don’t You Ever”, and “My Heart Had Wings”, Leitham’s lyrics are sweet, anguished, and contemplative. Leitham is an artist who is constantly on the move; listening, playing, watching, and always growing. Her trio sound has a potent yet elegant swing to it that is immediately identifiable.
MOOD(S)WINGS is Leitham’s most adventurous and explorative album to date and should be enjoyed by music lovers of all genres.” – The International Review Of Music 2015, Devon Wendell

“I Stand Corrected is a remarkable documentary about a remarkable human being, Jennifer Leitham. The best part of this documentary is the discovery of a truly major American musical mind. Listening to the way Jennifer plays, one has the impression that no obstructions exist between the ideas in her head and their expression on the instrument. And her ideas are by no means simple but profound and complex. Furthermore, she has a great sense of swing. This, indeed, is her real genius: She is able to compress her complicated thinking into rhythms that are not hard to follow, that speak to the body directly. There is no poetry without music, no music without the dance. Jennifer Leitham is an American original.” – The Stranger, Seattle 2012, Charles Mudede

“It’s not every night that one has a chance to hear the extraordinary music of Jennifer Leitham. But it will be on full display Wednesday night at The Blue Whale.
In a world of too much forgettable repetition, Leitham’s music — instrumentally and vocally — is a memorable pleasure.
A highly praised, veteran artist whose resume includes gigs with everyone from Woody Herman and George Shearing to Mel Tormé and Peggy Lee, Leitham has been a major jazz star in her own right since she transitioned into her true identity in 2001.
Leitham’s latest CD, Mood(S)wings, showcases a stellar collection of standards and originals, with Leitham’s remarkable left handed bass playing and her captivating vocals in the spotlight. Backing her, pianist Andy Langham and drummer Randy Drake provide musically symbiotic interaction, sharing Leitham’s far ranging, improvisational flights.
The results are stunning displays of state of the art contemporary jazz.”
– International Review of Music 2015, Don Heckman

Future Christmas Reviews:

Christmas CD Review: Jennifer Leitham’s “Future Christmas”
By Devon Wendell, December 10, 2014

A truly daunting task for any jazz musician is to create a Christmas album that both swings for the jazz lovers and appeals to a mainstream audience. If anyone can pull off this feat with ease, intelligence, and originality, it’s Jennifer Leitham and her dynamic trio, consisting of Andy Langham on piano, Randy Drake on drums, and Leitham on bass, vocals, sleigh bells, and water drops.
Future Christmas opens with a brilliant trio instrumental version of “Angels We Have Heard On High.” Leitham’s virtuosic double bass playing shines throughout this standard. Her harmonically complex, fluid, yet often delightfully tough and percussive attack on the bass has made her one of the instrument’s greatest practitioners in the jazz world for several decades now.
The lyrics to “Future Christmas (The Global Warming Winter Holiday Blues)” ask the important question “Where is the snow?” Not just on Christmas but anytime? Leitham’s lyrics on the present and future dangers of global warming sound light-hearted but address this subject seriously. The music is superb. Leitham’s bowed bass solo dances around the song’s melody and weaves in and out of Langham’s piano comping. Drake’s subtle drumming locks in the groove and leaves plenty of solo room for Leitham and Langham. Leitham’s singng voice has a sultry and smoky feel to it which is a fine addition to the trio’s sound. This is especially prevalent on Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts chestnut “Christmas Time Is Here.” The dissonant starkness of Leitham’s bass solo on this piece makes it truly an album highlight. The production is stellar.
On “Feels Like Home For Christmas,” “Nature’s Blessing,” and the exquisite “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” it feels as if you’ve known the distinct style and sound of this trio your entire life. The sound embraces the listener with soul and mastery.
Leitham’s tonally precise bowing is awe-inspiring in its adventurousness. Andy Langham’s fluid bop tinged piano work can follow Leitham anywhere she dares to venture.
The band’s chemistry is felt on “Little Drummer Boy/Big Bass Girl,” Leitham’s swinging twist on a Christmas classic. Randy Drake solos along with Leitham on this number. As Drake shows off his diverse drumming skills, Leitham complements every accent and phrase, and then launches out into the stratosphere with her bass on top. “Winter Wonderland” showcases Langham’s Bud Powell flavored piano chops.
The album’s highlight is definitely the legendary Bob Dorough’s “Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern.)” The realistically bleak lyrics are matched by Leitham’s hilariously sinister vocals. Dorough’s witty and sly sense of humor as an arranger and lyricist fits the overall sound and feel of this album like a glove.
“Jingle Bells” features another stellar trio performance. It is obvious that these musicians should be playing together and can communicate musically on an intimate level that only truly great jazz players can.
The album finishes with an endearing bass a cappella reading of “O Tannenbaum.” Leitham gets deep inside of this familiar melody and explores new ground without deviating from the music’s thematic qualities. Jennifer Leitham’s Future Christmas is truly a holiday album for the ages. It swings, warms the heart, and displays some inspired musicianship that will delight her strong fan base and attract plenty of new listeners.
- Devon Wendell, The International Review of Music

Jennifer Leitham: Future Christmas
Published: November 24, 2014

The spirit of Christmas past, present and future overspreads this charming holiday album by virtuosic bassist Jennifer Leitham's working trio (Andy Langham, piano; Randy Drake, drums) on which she offsets a program comprised mainly of established seasonal favorites with some tantalizing curves (for example, her own "Future Christmas," a.k.a "The Global Warming Winter Holiday Blues," or Bob Dorough's clever "Blue Christmas" —not to be confused with Elvis Presley's version from the '50s). Such uncommon departures seem only proper, as there are at least two salient features that set Leitham apart from most other bass players you're likely to encounter. First, she sings (on five of the album's eleven numbers, making this more a quartet than trio). And second—are you ready for this?—she's also left-handed, placing her among a relatively modest number of those who play bass for a living.

Methodology aside, what matters is that Leitham's full-bodied bass serves as an unerring compass throughout, whether soloing or lending support to Langham or Drake (with whom she playfully spars on "Little Drummer Boy / Big Bass Girl"). She uses the bow to good effect on the lovely ballad "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." As for Leitham's voice, it is light and pleasing on Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here," "Feels Like Home for Christmas" (a variation on "I'll Be Home for Christmas"), "Nature's Blessing" and her own "Future Christmas," a clear-eyed look at holiday seasons to come as seen through the unblinking lens of global warming. On "Blue Christmas," Leitham adopts a gravelly, Scrooge-like burr to underscore Dorough's acidulous lyric, an artifice chosen, she writes, because Dorough's song was beyond her normal vocal range. The result is jarring but effective.

The trio is showcased on two of the session's more animated numbers, "Angels We Have Heard on High" and a blazing rendition of "Jingle Bells," while Leitham rings down the curtain with a lustrous and sure-handed a cappella version of "O Tannenbaum." In between, Leitham and her teammates blend neatly together as a working unit should, with no missteps or blemishes. Thanks to their enterprise, the outlook for Future Christmas seems bright indeed.
- Jack Bowers, All About Jazz

Perpetual Change Reviews — Jennifer Leitham
Pam Degroff |Nov 16, 2015
CD Reviews
Hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again. So, with that in mind, here are two reviews of Christmas music CDs that I’ve managed to recently acquire. The first is Jennifer Leitham’s  Future Christmas, which came out last year, but I wasn’t able to get a chance to review it before my deadlines at that time.
We’ve featured Ms. Leitham several times in the past. but for those not in the know, she is one of the best traditional jazz bass players around. She works with a trio and for this album, along with Jennifer on bass, vocals, sleigh bells and water drops, Andy Langham is on piano. On drums (and more sleigh bells) is Randy Drake. Production by Jennifer Leitham, with executive producers JoAnn Martin, Saul Kent, and Roberta Conroy.
The project is an interesting balance of traditional Christmas tunes, plus some unique tunes, and the one original, the title track  Future Christmas. It’s also a nice balance of instrumentals and vocals.
The first cut is an instrumental version of Angles We Have heard On High, and is given a great jazz interpretation by the trio. Other instrumentals include a very beautiful Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, played with bowed bass; Little Drummer Boy/Big Bass Girl, which is a bass and drum solo throughout; Winter Wonderland, which is the best traditional jazz trio piece on the project and one of the outstanding tunes; Jingle Bells, which is the most uptempo version of this tune you’ll probably ever hear;  and the project’s closing tune, O Tannenbaum, which is a bass only solo.
I’d like to pause here to comment on Jennifer’s playing. While it’s always completely outstanding, this time around it’s more so, and there’s a specific reason for that. “This album was recorded just after an unfortunate softball accident resulted in a fracture of the 5th metacarpal bone in my right hand,” Jennifer said. “My trio mates Randy and Andy, our engineer Andy Waterman and his staff, and Dr. Steven Lin all did yeoman service to help me pull through this painful yet somehow joyous ordeal. Every note on this recording is dripping with love and I’d do it over again a thousand times.” When you hear some of the stunning solos, along with the bow work, it’s hard believe each session was a painful experience. You certainly can’t tell she had any problems, and the aforementioned “joyous ordeal” translates to a joyous listening experience.
The tracks with Jennifer’s vocal’s are also unique. Feels Like Home For Christmas is a sort of medley of I’ll Be Home For Christmas, along with Randy Newman’s Feels Like Christmas. Christmas Time Is Here is not only one of the better vocals, but being a laid back tune to begin with, it’s also an excellent example of consummate bass and piano work. The most unique thing I’ve ever heard on a Christmas project is Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern). If there’s such a thing as a dark sounding Christmas tune, this is it. Written by Bob Dorough and recorded by him with Miles Davis in 1962, it combines the original arrangement along with some updates Mr. Dorough did at a later time. It’s in a lower vocal register than Jennifer is used to and she admits it does sound dark — but it’s supposed to.
The full title of the album’s namesake song is Future Christmas (The Global Warming Winter Holiday Blues). This is what Jennifer has to say about the song: “When I first put my mind to writing an original Christmas tune, it occurred to me that most of the non-religious songs were about snow. When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, it seemed that every winter there was a white Christmas. In today’s world, it is increasingly rare. Our way of living is being threatened like never before. It’s up to us to connect with our inner voice, drive the bus, and celebrate changing the paradigm. ” The song definitely does that. Whether or not you’re a true believer in global warming/climate change, it does make you pause and think. Kind of a good way to use this season of the year to look at the bigger picture.
Over the years, I’ve been privileged to interview Jennifer and I have several of her CDs. The playing on Future Christmas, though, and especially the solos, is superb. She’s at her level best and Mr. Lanham’s piano work and Mr. Drake’s drumming is so tight it sounds like there’s a lot more than just a trio playing here.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re into jazz — give yourself and every music lover on your Christmas list a gift of this CD.
As I already noted, this CD came out last year. However, Jennifer does have a new project out entitled Mood Swings. Her music can be purchased through her web site at, as well as through major online sources such as Jennifer Leitham is also on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
- Pam DeGroff, TG Forum



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