Pam Asberry | Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind

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Holiday: New Age New Age: Contemporary Instrumental Moods: Mood: Christmas
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Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind

by Pam Asberry

Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind is a musical journey through the holiday season; these twelve solo piano arrangements were woven from sacred and secular melodies that span nine centuries and eight countries.
Genre: Holiday: New Age
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Gesù Bambino
5:35 $0.99
2. Sing We Now of Christmas
5:11 $0.99
3. Wexford Carol
5:05 $0.99
4. White Christmas
4:24 $0.99
5. Away in a Manger
3:55 $0.99
6. Over the River and Through the Wood
3:34 $0.99
7. Bell Carol Medley: Ukrainian Bell Carol / I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
4:03 $0.99
8. In the Bleak Midwinter
3:16 $0.99
9. March of the Kings
4:55 $0.99
10. Still, Still, Still
3:52 $0.99
11. He Is Born
3:27 $0.99
12. Come, Let Us Anew
3:48 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind is a musical journey through the holiday season. These twelve solo piano arrangements were woven from sacred and secular melodies that span nine centuries and eight countries.

1. Gesù Bambino/Pietro Yon, Italy (1917)
2. Sing We Now of Christmas/Traditional French (15th century)
3. Wexford Carol/Traditional Irish (18th century)
4. White Christmas/Irving Berlin, USA (1942)
5. Away in a Manger/John Ramsey Murray, USA (1887)
6. Over the River and Through the Wood/Traditional, USA (19th century)
7. Bell Carol Medley/Mykola Leontovych, Ukraine (1914)
8. In the Bleak Midwinter/Gustav Holst, England (1906)
9. March of the Kings/Traditional French (13th century)
10. Still, Still, Still/Traditional Austrian (1865)
11. He Is Born/Traditional French (19th century)
12. Come, Let Us Anew/James Lucas, England (19th century)



to write a review

Steve Sheppard

Some unusual offerings that are brilliant and bright
The art in creating a really good holiday or Christmas album is to manifest a performance so warm, that the listener is there in front of his or her tree, watching the snow fall outside the ice covered windows, and listening to the logs crackling on the fire, that ambience and narrative is perfectly manifested on this latest release by Pam Asberry called Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind.
What I was so impressed with here is the content, some compositions, even I did not recognise, and those I was more familiar with were arranged sublimely by a musician who is clearly on a role with her musical muse. Take track one for instance, a composition that dates back to Italy in 1917 and entitled Gesu Bambino. This is such a gentle offering, so well played by Asberry that one can almost feel the childlike warmth emanate from the music.
Pam Asberry as a pianist has that creative edge that simply delights the listener, and on the following piece called Sing We Now of Christmas, we have another European offering originally from France; this has a mood all of its own and can be dated back to the 15th century. Asberry brings this up-to-date with a performance that is both empowering and imploring and is one of my favourite piece from the release.
The well know Wexford Carol is now upon us, this 18th Century Irish composition is as beautiful now as it was then, the performance here by Asberry creates exactly what I said in my opening statement, manifesting warmth and memory filled moments of this time of year, with an arrangement that is both stylish and fluent.
If you have never heard this next piece, then where have you been? This has been performed by many, sung by some, and played by Asberry here with such energy of the holiday season. I was in a reverie with this one, for some reason I imagined Bing singing with Pam on piano, now that would have been something to have watched! Yes, White Christmas must be the ultimate track to play at this time of year.
I have felt thus far very emotional whilst playing this album, fond memories of my late parents and wonderful Christmas times with them and of course my children, all these compositions bring back those heart felt memories and a few happy tears. Speaking of children, this one probably more than any other hits home, and of course I am referring to Away in a Manager. This may appear to be a simple tune originally created back in 1887 by John Ramsey Murray, but Asberry’s performance here is not only clever, it is incredibly moving as well, and a nice use of the minor chords can be found here which takes it into a whole new level of musical class.
We have arrived at the half way juncture of the album and come across one that I personally have not heard until now and entitled Over the River and Through the Wood. The aged mood and composition thus created has a wonderful sense of a time worn arrangement that stands still proudly to this day, dating back originally to the 19th century. Asberry’s performance here retains the charm and manifests a sense of a lightness of spirit to add into the mix as well.
We move back now into the well-trodden paths of Christmas classics as we come across Bell Carol Melody. This is a perfect opportunity to add another log on the fire. Pam Asberry doesn’t only do this Ukrainian composition justice, she takes it to a whole new level, with some of the most colourful musicianship you’re likely to hear, pulling back and then raising the rhythm’s seemingly at will, making this an utterly charming offering indeed.
I have always adored In the Bleak Midwinter; this has to be one of the most descriptive, from its birth in England in 1906 and fathered by Holst, this would be the one I would always remember my father singing on Christmas day while he cooked the seasonal meal, now that’s a nice memory to have isn’t it? I am sure when you have listened to this version by Asberry, you will have had a few memories brought forward into your mind’s eye, and perhaps also enjoy the creative arrangement that much, that you may well buy the album and play it this holiday season as well.
Now it’s time for something quite powerful and regal and called March of the Kings, which draws its originality from the 13th century, okay, so you’re going to listen to this and know you have heard it elsewhere before, but lay that to one side for a moment and enjoy one of the most prolific performances that Asberry has perhaps ever given, power, grace and almost a little pomp and circumstance too, all mixed with a style that contains such an amazing helping of flair.
From the power and the glory of the previous offering, this song comes as a pleasant moment of a peaceful interlude for us, as we take in the refrains of Still, Still, Still. This Austrian composition from 1865 has all the gentleness required to make your listening even more pleasant. Asberry utilises her creative mastery perfectly on this piece, to give it a grand feel, yet not in a fashion that could be described as ostentatious. This dances perfectly as we listen, and the melody I am sure will live in your mind for a long while to come.
The penultimate piece is the well-known 19th Century French composition called He is Born. A proud and quite energetically fluent performance can be found here, but the gentleness of the previous offering is still here on what is indeed a classy arrangement indeed.
It’s now very late on Christmas Eve and one could almost hear a mouse stir in the pantry, so let’s move onto our very last offering from the artist and this one is called Come, Let Us Anew. This is from my homeland of England and created by James Lucas back in the 19th Century and is our finale with our Christmas sojourn with Pam Asberry and a better way to leave the project you would never wish to find.
Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind enthralled me for most of the morning, it created an atmosphere of Christmas, it recovered lost memories and reintroduced me to others, it narrated a certain warmth of this time of the year for me, and I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. What is so good here is that Asberry has not done the obvious, but really researched her subject matter brilliantly and brought to us some unusual offerings, mixed with a smattering of classics and laid a few favourite songs at the bottom of our musical Christmas tree. Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind has to be one of the best holiday based albums I have heard for absolutely ages.

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind" is the second solo piano release from pianist/ composer/ arranger/ teacher Pam Asberry, winner of the 2018 Enlightened Piano Radio “Best New Artist” award. This album is a collection of twelve Christmas carols and songs (sacred and secular) that span nine centuries and eight countries, arranged as gentle, soothing piano solos sure to calm the jangled nerves that so often come with the holiday season. The album maintains a relaxed, thoughtful mood from start to finish, making it a perfect accompaniment to a holiday dinner, an evening with friends, wrapping gifts and much more. You might even be able to get St. Nick to spend a little extra time at your place if you have this music playing on Christmas Eve! While most of the carols are familiar, they are not the songs that get played over and over all season (to the point of “if I hear that one more time….”). The album was recorded at Piano Haven Studios in Sedona on Joe Bongiorno’s incredible Shigeru Kawai concert grand piano, so the piano sound is perfection.

"Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind" begins with a lovely arrangement of “Gesu Bambino,” an Italian carol composed in 1917. Keeping it simple and uncluttered, it feels like a gentle lullaby. “Sing We Now of Christmas” goes back to 15th century France and has become one of my favorite carols. Dark and haunting, I love the emotional quality of this piece, and Pam expresses those emotions very effectively. “Wexford Carol” comes from 17th century Ireland and isn’t a carol you hear often, although it should be. Pam’s arrangement is graceful and heartfelt. “White Christmas” is one of the most popular 20th century carols and has been recorded by a wide variety of artists in a wide variety of styles and genres. Pam keeps it simple, focusing on the beauty of the wistful, dreamy melody - one of the best arrangements of this song that I’ve heard. “Over the River and Through the Wood” was one of my favorite songs in grade school, and I don’t think I’d ever heard it as a piano solo before this season! Pam’s arrangement is much softer and sweeter than a classroom full of kids singing it, but it takes me right back. It never ceases to amaze me how easily “Carol of the Bells” adapts to so many different treatments, and this arrangement is one of the most relaxed versions I’ve heard. Paired with “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” it’s a favorite. “March of the Kings” is by far the most dramatic piece on the album, and is also my favorite track. Dating back to 13th century France, the melody is dark and poignant and Pam’s performance is gorgeous. I have to admit that I had never heard “Come, Let Us Anew,” a carol from 19th century England, and this closing piece is celebratory, reverent and very beautiful.

So, if you are looking for a solo piano Christmas album that will enhance the quieter side of the holiday season, be sure to look for "Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind"!

Candice Michelle

Review from Aural Awakenings
Classically-trained pianist and composer Pam Asberry follows-up her summery Seashells in My Pocket album with a wintry Christmas album entitled Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind. Comprised of twelve solo piano compositions, the album features exquisitely elegant arrangements of both religious carols and secular holiday songs of varying moods and tones that range from delightfully cheery to solemnly reverent.

The album opens with an Italian Christmas carol composed by Pietro Yon in 1917 entitled “Gesu Bambino”, as it moves along at a brisk yet leisurely pace. The next piece is a traditional French carol entitled “Sing We Now of Christmas”, which boasts a beautifully expressive yet contemplative arrangement. Here, Asberry transitions smoothly from subtly starker chords in the lower register to more glistening notes in the higher register, before perfectly wrapping up the piece in a mysterious, minor-key figure. Likewise, Asberry impressively contrasts the deeper moods of pieces like these with that of more jubilant songs such as “Over the River and Through the Wood”, which showcases a delightfully carefree melody set to a gentle waltzing pace. This lovely piece evokes images of a sunny winter wonderland with its intermittently-placed, lightly twirling notes deftly mimicking snowflakes falling to the ground. One of my favorite pieces on the album is Asberry’s magnificent rendering of the 13th century French carol “March of the Kings”. Opening in a formidable manner with boldly striking chords, the composition eventually moves into a feathery, twinkly bridge towards the latter part, before gradually receding into its initially darker motif. Not surprisingly, with Asberry having formerly led a church choir from organ, those roots come through quite evidently on this remarkable piece, as one can easily imagine the reverent sound of the pipe organ (or in this case, her piano) reverberating throughout the church halls.

Likewise, Pam Asberry renders a couple of more accessibly familiar Christmas tunes such as “Away in a Manger” and “White Christmas”. However, overall she’s opted for more out-of-the-box and less frequently covered pieces here, which is a defining characteristic of the album that I especially enjoyed. Easily one of this year’s favorite holiday albums, Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind musically conveys both a reverence and cheerfulness that will surely delight the senses all season long!