ABOUT THE CD:
I HEAR ANGELS CALLING
Michele Pillar's "I Hear Angels Calling" Christmas CD is a worthy addition to the Christmas holiday catalog. Michele excels with an approach mastered long ago: elegant delivery and stellar vocals that give extra polish to this seasonal lineup.
"I Hear Angels Calling" features several standard and original songs written by Michele Pillar and friends exclusively for this project with the addition of instrumental interludes featuring jazz guitar legend, Larry Carlton. The first single releasing to radio, Song Of Mary (Holy Is The Lord), is destined to become a classic seasonal favorite for years to come.
Song Of Mary (Holy Is The Lord)
O, Holy Night
*Let It Snow
**I Hear Angels Calling
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Do You Hear What I Hear
*Away In A Manger
O, Come, O, Come, Emmanuel
*Song Of Mary (Holy Is The Lord) - Instrumental
Produced and Arranged by Larry Carlton
*Featuring Larry Carlton
With Nathan East, Jeff Babko, Greg Phillinganes, Gregg Bissonette, Harvey Mason, Amick Bryam and Dana Glover
**Vocal Arrangement by Nathan East
Engineered and Mixed by: Csaba Petocz
Additional Engineering by: Joe Chiccarelli, Ed Cherney, Jed Hackett and Assen Stoyanov
Mastered by Doug Sax and Sangwook Nam at The Mastering Lab, Ojai, CA.
Recorded for 335 Records at: The Jim Henson Studios, Hollywood, CA
Broken Wave, Glendale, CA
LCM Carlton Farms, Leiperâ€™s Fork, TN
Cover design and photography by: David Bean, Visual Reserve
Release Date: November 28, 2006
Record Label: 335 Records
Distributor: 335 Records Distribution
Style Description/Genre of Album: Adult Contemporary/Inspirational
Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone for God to show us new ministry opportunities. Just ask Michele Pillar. She walked away from a successful career as one of contemporary Christian musicâ€™s most acclaimed female vocalists to nurture her family and serve God in other arenas. Now Heâ€™s bringing her back full circle to music and providing exciting new avenues for her to use her gifts.
Before stepping away from the spotlight, Michele Pillar had earned a place at the top of the charts, well known for her compelling voice and passion for spreading the gospel. A three-time Grammy nominee, she released five acclaimed albums including â€œThe Misfit,â€ a Maranatha! Music groundbreaking collection with Erick Nelson, and â€œLook Who Loves You Now,â€ with a title track that currently holds the record for the longest running No. 1 single in Christian radio history.
Today sheâ€™s returning to the spotlight with a variety of new projects underway. Sheâ€™s releasing a Christmas CD, (Nov. 28, 2006) â€œI Hear Angels Calling,â€ (335 Records) produced by her husband, jazz guitar legend Larry Carlton, and sheâ€™s writing new songs for a solo album to be released in 2007. Among the collaborators sheâ€™s working with are the legendary, Mike Reid, Nathan East, BeBe Winans, Allen Shamblin and Chris Eaton.
â€œStretching and trying other art forms helped release my desire to write,â€ Michele says of her additional experiences as an actor, author, and songwriter.
Michele developed a passion for sharing the gospel at an early age. "I was raised by alcoholic parents, and suffered physical and emotional abuse. In my early years of ministry, I shunned my past; tried to ignore it. That was a mistake. Now, I know that God ordained my childhood, it wasn't some kind of horrible joke. In hindsight, I see that all things do work for the good to those who love God. I have a grateful heart and love for those who suffer. My roots made me very thankful to have the safety of God the Father. He gave me a new beginning and untangled my heritage. For me, that was like being raised from the dead.â€
Michele admits she made mistakes and struggled during her early years as a Christian, but without those times she wouldnâ€™t have come to understand the power of Godâ€™s mercy and grace. "Becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. In the beginning, I allowed myself to be lifted up as an example and role model too quickly. I still had major flaws that needed time to heal. That was rough and confusing and set me up to fall."
Micheleâ€™s desire for music ministry began while she was still in college. She was asked to sing on Praise II for Maranatha! Music. Her young solo voice ushered in the classics, â€œThou Art Worthyâ€-- â€œJesus What A Wonder You Areâ€ and â€œIn Moments Like These.â€
â€œThe Christian Music industry was just beginning so most of my friends and family thought I was making a big mistake by dedicating myself to something that seemed so insignificant. They thought I was actually throwing my career away by going into the ministry,â€ she states, â€œbut I felt like I didnâ€™t have a choice in the matter. I felt that strongly about the fire in my belly. I couldnâ€™t sing about anything else. I couldnâ€™t write about anything else. I couldnâ€™t have become a pop star if someone had offered it to me on a platter, thatâ€™s just not where my heart was.â€
God continued opening doors for Michele in the Christian community. Phil Keaggy heard Michele on the radio and invited her to sing a duet with him on the song â€œWhat a Wonderâ€ on his â€œTown to Townâ€ album in 1981.
That song caught the attention of Billy Ray Hearn, who signed Michele to Sparrow Records. She recorded three landmark albums for Sparrowâ€”â€œMichele Pillar,â€ â€œReign on Me,â€ and â€œLook Who Loves You Now.â€ She later recorded â€œLove Makes All the Difference,â€ another collection that showcased the power in her voice and her insightful way with a great lyric.
But for Michele, nearly everything in her world came to a screeching halt when her husband was nearly killed in a drive-by shooting. â€œWe had only been married four months when he was gunned down in front of our house in L.A. by a gang member,â€ says Michele. â€œIt was a random gang related shooting. It took him about a year and a half to heal. He had to learn to play the guitar all over again. The .357 magnum bullet went into his neck, and itâ€™s amazing that he lived. It hit his carotid artery, but missed the spinal chord. It destroyed the nerve to the left vocal chord.â€
The doctor couldnâ€™t believe Larryâ€™s injuries werenâ€™t more devastating considering the type of bullet and area of the impact. He asked Michele about what she and Larry believed, and she had the chance to share Jesus with the doctor.
Obviously her music career was no longer a priority, and Michele stayed by Larryâ€™s side during his lengthy recovery.
â€œWhen all of this happened, I backed out of music completely. After Larry recovered, I'd been out of the ministry so long, I wasn't sure how to jump back in. God had moved us on."
Thatâ€™s not to say Michele was ever idle. The couple moved from Los Angeles to Nashville. Once Larry was well, she pursued her interest in horses and became a National Champion equestrian in both U.S. and Canada, three years running.
Then, in honor of her mother, she launched Closer to Home, a non-profit organization that aids people in need. â€œI was raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet,â€ says Michele. â€œWhen there was a bump in the road, Mom had a difficult time putting food on the table.â€
Michele, President of the Williamson County, TN based organization, serves on The Board of Directors. She and Larry raise funds for the foundation by producing a yearly concert. Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd, Michael McDonald, Ricky Skaggs, JoDee Messina, Richard Marx, Phil Vassar and Steve Winwood are among those whoâ€™ve contributed their talents to raise money for Closer to Home.
Michele sang on the praise team at her church and studied acting. Sheâ€™s acted in national TV commercials for companies such as Bank Of America, Lexus and Levi Strauss & Co. She also provided voice over work for YWCA, and lent her singing voice to the animated series â€œThe Simpsons.â€
Though she thought her days as a recording artist might be over, her creative gifts were awakened when she was asked to write songs for the new musical, â€œMagdalene,â€ (a fictional story of Mary Magdalene, slated to tour in 2007.) Michele, Broadway actress/playwright Allison Metcalf Allen and British singer/songwriter Chris Eaton, whose credits include the Amy Grant Christmas classic â€œBreath of Heaven,â€ worked together to complete 27 songs for the play.
â€œI felt as though God used Magdalene to wake up my music inside of me,â€ she says. â€œThatâ€™s the only way I can describe this. I was happy doing other things-- behind the scenes work and charity work. But something about working on â€˜Magdaleneâ€™ changed everything. I just felt this urging and this awakening to do my own music again.â€
I really sought Godâ€™s direction on this new idea for some time asking Him, â€œLord, Iâ€™m I hearing you?â€
In time, He made it clear to Michele that she had indeed heard Him calling her back into music ministry. "As I began writing songs for a new CD, lyrics poured out of me that were almost shocking, they were so honest. Things I'd long forgotten about and things that God had carried me though were now very easy to articulate. Very personal things I'd never have had the courage to speak about before. I knew God was encouraging me to tell the whole truth this time, so I kept writing."
Michele Pillar has always been a beautiful woman with an amazing voice, but these days, as she returns to music ministry, she still has those gifts and so much more. â€œShe says. â€œI feel free this time.â€
Michele says God has urged her not to compare her current ministry to her past one because He is creating something new. She uses her wardrobe as an analogy for this next chapter in her ministry.
â€œIf I were to wear something I wore 10 or 15 years ago, it would look ridiculous, for many reasons!â€ she says with a bemused laugh. â€œGod is designing a whole new garment for me to wear now. Iâ€™ve survived a lot. We all have. So, it wonâ€™t scare me to tell the whole story this time. The God I serve is much bigger than the One I sang about before!â€