Read Chapters One and Two HERE.
Click HERE to see a few clips of Jenny Singing.
When I was three years old, Bob on Sesame Street sang this amazing song for the first time.
I do not remember listening to it live, although I probably did because Sesame Street was my favorite show. But I do remember when my parents bought the little 45 single and gave it to me as a gift.
We had a tiny 45 record player and I remember playing this song over and over and over again.
I love to sing.
My parents are singers and so was my maternal grandmother. She used to sing in church. My mother is a choral director who also taught piano and loved to dance. She served as a DJ for many of the dances that I attended as a teen and provided the music for my wedding reception. She had a nice sound system. When my husband asked me out for our first date, he asked if there was anything I would like to do.
I told him that my mother was doing a dance at the stake across town and we could go along for the ride and to help out. So our first date was the Grand Blanc stake Harvest Ball in Michigan, with my parents double dating. It was sort of weird but I enjoyed spending the time driving with Paul and my parents in the car and he was such a good sport to help lug all of her equipment and endless records and tapes into the cultural hall where we set up and then stayed late to help clean up after.
As we drove home from the dance Paul held my hand in the car as we quietly talked. It was romantic, yet still weird that my parents were sitting in the front seat of our mini van.
When Paul and I first met at the Bloomfield Hills Stake young adult Halloween dance, he asked me to slow dance to Somewhere Out There from An American Tale. As we walked out to the dance floor I remember thinking how cute he looked in his costume. I had dressed up silly, but he looked somewhat dignified with suspenders and a nice hat. As we danced and sang along I mentioned to him that I had not yet seen this movie and he said we would have to rectify that as it was really good. He sang into my ear as we danced and I perked up thinking, “wow, this guy can sing!”
I always knew that I had to marry a singer because the idea of sitting in church for seventy years next to some guy who was tone deaf was never going to work. I knew that my prenup around food could be a deal breaker and was nervous about imposing too much on my intended when I had this singing requirement as well. The fact that I wanted to have twelve children and every guy I had dated to that point would run screaming like his butt was on fire in case I let that slip, was something I held back for date number three.
As we danced I felt so good in his arms, I just sort of melted into the song. After the dance we all drove over to Dennys, which was the only restaurant open at that hour and chowed on ice cream sundaes and appetizers. I remember my friend Janet and I ordering a huge hot fudge brownie cake from the menu and we ate the whole thing. It was a fun night. Janet then let me know that Paul Hatch had asked her out. I told her that he had asked me out too, to watch an American Tale!
It was so funny to us that we both had upcoming dates with Paul because we had arrived at that dance determined to come home with something social on our calendar. We DID! But it was with the same guy. When I told her that I really liked him, she quietly slipped over to him as we were heading home and told him that she did not want to be in the middle of some love triangle and she broke their date. I have always been grateful to her for that. She married a doctor and is homeschooling seven children right now.
I was born into a musical home. Mama was a composer, an arranger, a dancer, and a musical dynamo the likes of which has rarely been encompassed in one body and mind. When she was a young mother my parents traveled to New York and saw Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music on Broadway. They could only afford standing room only, but she never forgot the image of those seven children standing side by side on stage. And when she welcomed all eight of us into her life, she was determined that we would be singers. As the oldest daughter in a family with four boys and four girls, I was born as child number four and was blessed to grow up surrounded by a mix of musical sounds.
Sundays were reserved for sacred and classical music and we all sang in church. The various choirs tied to our wards and stakes in Detroit were often filled out with Tripp siblings and if Mom wasn’t directing the choir, she was accompanying it on the piano or organ. We sang during primary programs, youth firesides, and in community outreach settings. We sang for the elderly, the disabled, and the community at large in a variety of holiday and civic events.
When I was eleven the musical Annie had just traveled to Detroit for the first time and for my 5th grade birthday I was gifted with the album. I listened to it over and over and my best friend Heather and I choreographed a few of the songs and sang for our parents. Then we took things a step further and put together a musical review of some of the songs with my brothers and a few friends and performed it around the Detroit area for civic clubs and church groups. I will never forget Ted Cardon who played Daddy Warbucks in that production. He was such an amazing person and to give so freely of his time to a group of young hoofers like us was just such a gift. As he and I would waltz to something was missing, I felt the deep magic of the stage wash over me time and again.
My three older brothers started learning to play rock band instruments while they were in middle school. We owned the drum set and so band practice was always at our house. I remember my deep frustrations trying to do math homework while band practice was in the basement. My brothers loved jazz, but they also played rock n roll and jammed with anyone who was interested. Once coming home on the bus a girl asked me if it was true we were hosting a party at our home on the weekend with a live band. I told her yes. It then hit me that we were a pretty cool family to have a live band. Until that moment I did not really think much about it.
My grandmother was celebrating her birthday with us one year and word got out that the Tripps were having a party. The word spread around the school and that night as our family gathered to celebrate Gram, a bunch of kids from the high school showed up ready to party. They were saddened to learn it was a family party and nobody else was invited. When I was in 6th grade I played Ngana in South Pacific. The little french polynesian girl was a fun role to add to my resume. As I had the fun experience of hanging with all the cool high school kids I was again exposed to a huge range of musical styles and people at various cast parties and events. Punk Rock was just showing up on the scene and I remember slam dancing to what I like about you at the final cast party for South Pacific.
By my 10th grade year in high school my brothers were mostly launched into their adult lives and I was coming into my own as a musician. I had played middle school sports and loved gymnastics and basketball, but in high school I had to make the tough decision to focus on one or the other and music won out. I immersed myself in choir, the spring musicals, speech and debate (which is called forensics in Michigan), and was able to do some solos are various talent shows and other school events. My school was also unique in the sense that we had an improvisational team and I loved being on stage doing improv games with an audience. A few friends started a rock band called the Bisch tones and asked me to sing with them at a few events.
Highlights of my years in high school include performing with the mime club at North Farmington HS. I was only there for a year but it was so great to be a part of that group and I learned so much. I also performed in Our Town as a freshman and was in the choir. At church I sang a few solos at various church events and really felt my voice developing into something powerful. When we moved to Union Lake my 10th grade year I joined the choir at Walled Lake Central HS and learned so much working with Roger Longrie who was the choral director. He also directed the spring musicals and took choirs to various choral festivals and competitions. I performed in Bye Bye Birdie playing Doris and I choreographed the whole show. My little sister played the Sad Girl and my baby brother Richard Tripp played my son Randolph in the show. Rich drove me batty by constantly running down to the cafeteria to purchase snacks and soda from the vending machines. I would get in trouble with the director when he went missing.
The next year we performed South Pacific and I choreographed the show and played a nurse in the ensemble. My senior year we performed Fiddler on the Roof and instead of performing I was on crew pulling the curtain.
I was also in some one acts and a couple of fall plays including Scrooge and a summer Dance Festival at church that my mother directed. Mom was also a DJ and we would travel around the state providing music for weddings, dances, and harvest balls. When my husband asked me out for the first time he wondered if there was something I wanted to do. I told him that my mom was Dj’ing a harvest ball in another stake and asked if he wanted to attend it with us. He said sure, so our first date was a double date with my parents and we drove to the Grand Blanc stake provide music for this dance. Paul was such a good sport helping to carry in the equipment and stay the whole time and then break it all down and carry it out with us. We had fun dancing together and getting to know my parents.
When I left home to attend BYU I did not want my roommates to know my passion for theatre. I knew that certain stereotypes are associated with musical theatre majors and so I told them that I was an education major planning to teach history at the high school level.
This was not a lie as I was planning to teach high school theatre and history. I combined the two with the first class I took that summer of 1986 which was a History of Theatre class taught by a theatre professor at the Y. In the class I met a guy who was a drummer for a local garage rock band. They were looking for a new lead singer and when I told him I was a singer he asked me to come audition for the band. I did and they asked me to join. We played U2 songs, particularly Sunday Bloody Sunday and performed it around campus at various talent shows and dances. Just before fall semester in 1986 I auditioned for the Honors Program talent show and performed a stand up comedy routine that I had written around being the owner of a bike that my mother had purchased for me at Deseret Industries.
During that same summer I auditioned for Funny Girl and landed the bit part of Mrs. O’Malley. I was also in the ensemble and sang along to all of the great songs in that show. We performed for the homecoming events. For those students who did not want to attend the dance, the option was available for them to attend a dinner theatre with a nice supper and our show as the entertainment. This was as student directed show and I was able to connect with many of the older student performers at the school. I also performed in the mask club with two student directors who were producing one act plays to perform as part of their directing requirements for graduation. These connections and the education that went along with them were as important to my skills as a performer as anything I learned formally in class. I also sang with the University chorale and took ballet and jazz classes.
In the fall of my wonderful year at BYU I danced Folk and auditioned for the Folk Team. I did not make it but did dance my way into an advanced class that was really fun. I performed folk and Christmas music with the Russian choir and was president of that choir that was tied to the Russian program at the school. I had taken the Russian class to learn the language hoping to be called to serve in that great country as a missionary. But I had to drop and then audit the class because I was too busy to fit all of the homework required to pass the class.
My final semester at BYU I had to get a job and ended up working at the MacDonalds on 9th ave. I did not have as much time for performing as before, but I did audition for three summer stock companies in February of 1987. When I received a call back to the pink garter, I was thrilled to hopefully be a part of the cast, but the director told me that although I could sing and read really well, I was too fat for his group. The Playmill people were not as concerned about my size so much as my talent and hired me for the Cast of 1987. I spent four glorious months immersed in musical theatre. We performed Pippin, a Mellowdrama, and Guys and Dolls. During the days we were taught theatre by visiting professors from BYU and Ricks and then at night we were able to put into practice what we had learned during the day. It was the ultimate internship and I will always be grateful for the lessons I learned at the Playmill.
Over the years I sang many solos and appeared in lots of musicals and sang with really good choirs at church and at my schools.
My first big solo was at church when I was eight. I had memorized Homesick from My Turn on Earth and stood in Sacrament Meeting to sing this one simple song. My grandmother had come to watch me sing and Mom was on the piano. She had me sing the song through twice because it is just one minute long. I remember catching my grandmas eye as I sang and she smiled to encourage me. The next time I looked at her she had tears streaming down her face. I remember having the thought that music must be powerful, because I do not ever remember seeing her cry. Her Irish backbone and Scottish approach to life meant she rarely bothered to cry, she was too busy laughing and having a good time.
I never sang in public with my grandmother, but Mom told me she had an amazing voice when she was younger. Her vibrato took over so much when she aged that she did not feel comfortable singing in public. I met her nephew Gar, who as my second cousin was a genealogist who had traveled to Scotland several times to do research on our family. He told me that our Great Aunt Mary had been a wise woman in her mountain village who served as the local midwife, herbalist, and was a noted singer. I suppose every family line has that one auntie who feels drawn to music, childbirth, and herbal healing.
My songwriting midwife friend Melania told me that when her first female ancestor was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith himself called her to be the midwife in Nauvoo and while she was being blessed, she was told that her daughters and grand daughters would always be midwives down through the ages. I have thought about that so much as the years have clicked by. Musical Midwives who sing the babies out and welcome them with herbal tinctures, compresses, and oils.
When I first started doing research on Essential Oils, I learned that probably the main reason the wise men brought Frankincense and Myrrh to Jesus Christ when he was a baby was because those oils were traditionally used in Childbirth.
In fact, to designate a baby as a king, the cord would be anointed with Myrrh and then the baby would have Frankincense applied to the crown of his head and massaged into his skin. This was done to protect the child from evil deities. A narrative has grown around the birth of Jesus indicating that the wise men showed up when he was two years old, just before Joseph took off with his family for Egypt. But I believe that if they were going to bring him the gifts that would be most helpful during his birth, they may have shown up sooner and that Joseph left for Egypt when the Savior was a newborn.
We know that angels from heaven appeared on the night Jesus Christ was born. And that the heavens were opened as angelic singing accompanied Mary’s labor and birth. Mary likely followed the Levitical practice of six weeks of purifying. Leviticus 12:1-8.
1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
7 Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.
Music, singing, and oils. Sounds like a good combination for any child being born. I have often though what sort of message Heavenly Father was trying to send when he allowed his son to be born surrounded by dirty animals in a barn to a mother who was barely out of childhood, traveling on the road, and poor. There was no money for midwives, wet nurses, and the maternal comforts that can be purchased to make things easier for mom. A poor carpenter on the road with a very pregnant wife is a recipe for disaster.
God could have sent his son to a wealthy family who lived in the biggest house, could afford the best medical care, the comforts of good food, servants to do all of the work, and an older mother who was an experienced birther and emotionally mature. Instead of placing his child in an animals manger, filled with germs, the baby Jesus could have been in a comfortable crib, with the finest tapestries, fine linens, and woolens available to cushion and cradle the newly born King. What was he thinking?
Personally, it is one of the big mysteries of our sojourn here on Earth. Is it possible he was trying to send all of us a message about what is needful at birth when he allowed his child, his only begotten son, to be born in these dire circumstances? He is our Heavenly Parent after all, and could have set up any situation possible for the birth, up to and including sending Jesus to the Earth during the peak of 20th century drug and surgical sophistication and scientific childbirth.
When I gave birth to my son Benjamin in 2002 I decided to plan as if I was going to have a Family Birth with just my husband attending me. I did this with our fourth child as well. Over the years few people have ever asked me why I did this. For all the gossip and questioning that has gone on behind my back, very few people have ever asked me to my face why I chose to do my own prenatal care and give birth alone.
I am a prepper. I am someone who reads the scriptures and I believe they are true. When the Savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 24 claimed that things were going to get a little crazy before his arrival, I took him at his word.
And so I have lived my mothering life assuming that there would probably be a time when moms and daughters would be helping each other with childbirth with no one available to help. And I also have lived my life as if we may have a time when we cannot go to the store for food, or the drugstore for drugs. And I believed that we may even see a time when we cannot get baby formula, antibiotics, or vaccines for our babies.
And because these have been my beliefs, I have acted in what I perceived to be a logical and systematic way to learn the skills that would enable my babies to not only be born healthy, but also thrive without any professionals helping.
So I studied and I researched and I reached out to other moms and I put things into practice and I prayed and I fasted and I have learned for myself what it means to be a provident mother.
On the night of Bens birth Paul brought me hot compresses to place on a my bottom to help me stretch. I would drop some myrrh on the cloth and settle in to laboring again. While I was getting ready to push he asked me what he could do to help. I said, “SING TO ME”.
So he did. He opened up our mormon hymn book and he sang all of my favorite hymns. It was perfect. His singing invited the holy spirit and calmed both of us. I felt our son settle quietly in my womb for this final portion of labor. We both felt some angst because of how things had gone when our son Andy was born at home six years previously.
As I pushed and prayed and asked for angels to help me know what to do, all of a sudden I felt guided to stand up. When the next contraction started I dropped into the Yoga Goddess position, which is a standing squat.
I pushed my son into his Fathers hands.
Paul handed Ben to me and as I laid down on our bed out of the corner of my eye I saw my husband leap for JOY. Yes! We did it!
Then I felt the sacredness of what had just happen wash over me. I grabbed the Frankincense bottle and anointed Ben’s head with a few drops. This child has been designated royalty by his parents.
As we have raised him and realized the role that music has and will play in his life, I just have to marvel at the path that Paul and I have trod together from that slow dance to Somewhere Out There to singing our son earthside.
More HERE on Callin.