If you're sick of Christmas music already, consider the ears of Anna Wilson (left) and Monty Powell, who have been listening to Christmas music since Valentine's Day.
But, then again, what the part-time Utah residents have been listening to -- and writing, and recording, and mixing, and so on -- has been much better than anything you're hearing from any stop-motion animated TV series.
Wilson, with her producing and song-writing husband Powell, has put out one of the best Christmas albums of the year with "Yule Swing." She'll be drawing from that collection of 10 original jazz songs when she performs a benefit concert for the Park City Jazz Foundation tonight.
"When most artists make Christmas albums, they do covers," Wilson said. "['Yule Swing' is] Christmas music for people who want something fresh, new and different."
The brassy, swinging sounds are also different for the pair, who have made their name in country music. Most of the year they live in Nashville, writing country songs for other artists. Powell spent this past year writing for Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban, and Wilson wrote the hit 2008 single "All I Ever Wanted" for Chuck Wicks, boyfriend of Utahn Julianne Hough. She has also written songs recorded by Reba McEntire, Lee Ann Womack, Billy Ray Cyrus and Chris Cagle, while Powell has written songs recorded by Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio, Alabama and Tim McGraw).
As their success multiplied, Wilson and Powell -- the latter who had been skiing in Utah for two decades -- decided to buy a winter home near Snow Basin Resort two years ago. "We're ski bums in the winter," Powell said. "We try to spend most of the winter here, because we're guaranteed a white Christmas," Wilson said.
The pair have begun to spend more time in Utah, in part because Powell's daughter is a freshman at the University of Utah, and in part because they have begun to explore the other seasons. Wilson was one of the break-out performers of this summer's Park City Jazz Festival, said Kris Severson, executive director of the Park City Jazz Foundation. "Every year, it seems that someone rises above [most other performers]," Severson said. "She was 'it' this year."
After the festival, Severson and Powell went fly-fishing together, and they hatched the idea of Wilson performing a benefit concert. The foundation relies on concerts like these to aid its educational programs.
In the meantime, Wilson was working on her album, and the last thing she needed was a title, where she benefitted from Utah influences. The name -- "Yule Swing" -- occurred to her and her husband while they were hanging out on a local ski lift.
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