Cindy Boehler never gives up on her dreams
Playing Time – 41:12 -- Cindy Boehler’s motto in life could easily be “Never give up your dreams.” Her advice to other musicians with a body of original material to record is to patient. As evidenced by her professional debut album, “Set It Free,” the personal reward and satisfaction are worth the wait and sacrifice. Born in Colorado and raised in Nebraska, Cindy acknowledges that growing up in a small Midwestern town significantly shaped her as an individual. The self-proclaimed ruralist grew up around music and was singing by an early age. Attributing her mother, as well as role models like Karen Carpenter and Patsy Cline, for inspiration, Cindy’s first public appearance as a vocalist was in 1976 at her sister’s wedding. “Set It Free” is a musical tribute to both her mother and her God as she joyous exclaims “Find the promise of salvation in the Word” in the opening cut.
Boehler is a mom herself, with seven kids ranging in age from 6 to 26. She best captures her love of family and own maternal instinct in her self-penned “That’s What I Come From,” where she sings “my mother’s heart was given by those who came before, I’ve raised my babies lovingly, I’ve trusted in the Lord.” It’s a splendid tribute to her grandmother, mother and the wisdom they imparted and passed down. That piece and other slower numbers (e.g. Life’s Railway to Heaven) could’ve been arranged without banjo, but Richard Bailey’s proficient playing doesn’t create too much distraction. The full instrumental and vocal complement is most problematic for “Uncloudy Day” in that there are some conflicting melodic riffs, fills and vocals. The rest of the album is tastefully arranged, and I was particularly thrilled by the songs that modulated to different keys and incorporated professional background vocals not commonly heard on bluegrass gospel projects.
Produced and engineered by Steve Ivey, the top Nashville session musicians enlisted to support the project include Rob Ickes (Dobro), Richard Bailey (banjo), Shad Cobb (fiddle), Andy Leftwich (mandolin), Charlie Chadwick (bass) and Steve Ivey himself (guitar, background vocals). Pat Berguson’s bass harmonica imparts some rhythmic and breezy propulsion to “Hello Central.” All are musicians who have assisted Ivey on his previous bluegrass gospel releases from IMI Music. Of special note is the inclusion of The Jordanaires (Gordon Stoker, Ray Walker, Louis Nunley, Michael Black) on six of the 12 tracks. While the cohesive quartet has recorded three of these same songs before, they add comforting warmth to the originals “That’s What I Come From,” “Have You Need,” and the cautionary “You Gotta Know.” In a strong show of support, The Jordanaires traveled from Nashville to Nebraska to help Boehler release the album to nearly 1,000 fans. In a more contemporary new acoustic style, a dreamy “One Step,” faith-affirming “One Piece at a Time,” and reflective “In His Own Time” impart nice musical diversity to the set. With His grace, Cindy sings about finding her meaning, place, and the direction to make her dreams come true. The six original songs, co-written by Boehler and Ivey, are the crowning moments on this project. C.K. Harris’ “Hello Central” is also given an engaging bluegrass treatment.
The creation of this music has been a life-changing even for Cindy Boehler, a vocalist of breathtaking ability. She hopes that the messages in her songs will similarly provide some guidance and direction for others in need of finding their way during life’s journeys. Considering that it’s taken many years for Cindy Boehler to find her own musical bearing and course to Nashville, the underlying tenet of her ministry is that God loves all, has answers, and will help all who are seeking sweet redemption in His plan. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)