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106.1 The River

For the Joy of Music

By Cindi Alpert

I am writing this article as I sit back and watch my eight-year-old daughter paint the album cover for a Christmas CD I am producing for charity. There is nothing more touching than watching a giggling little girl with cookie crumbs all over her face armed with a paint brush and loads of colorful ideas. Her Christmas tree design is developing into a kind of whimsical cartoon-like creation reminiscent of something from a Dr. Seuss story. As I watch her work unfold, it gives me a pause. I am overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude because this musical project comprised of so many individuals is finally coming together.

It was so difficult to decide which organization would benefit from the proceeds generated from the sales of the CD, as there are so many worthy causes in our area.  After a visit to The Joy of Music School in Knoxville, the choice was clear.  The Joy of Music School is a non-profit organization providing free music lessons for children who cannot afford them.  All teachers are volunteers. Instruments, music, and supplies are provided at no cost.  Executive Director, Francis Graffeo, explained to me that music for a disadvantaged child is a way up and out.  At a certain age, children with talent realize that they can hear things their friends and family cannot.  He went on to say that they latch on to a beat in the rhythms of everyday life, while others glide along. These young people have an urgency in their relationship with music and are primed for opportunity. The school exists for these kids.

When I first began asking local musicians to volunteer their talents, time, and work to the project, I was overwhelmed at the response. Local musicians were coming out of the woodwork to get involved. I decided to focus on local musicians and bands because I wanted to showcase the talent we have right here in our own backyard. Knoxville is loaded with talent, and I think often times we don’t get the credit we deserve as a musical community. As owners of radio stations, my husband, Jeff, and I have the opportunity to be exposed to so much incredible original music, a lot of which we play on the radio if it fits the format and meets the standards for airplay. So, you can imagine how I was beside myself when so many local singer/songwriters and musical groups came forward and asked, “What do you need and when?”

Then, there is the studio element. Many of the musicians had written original Christmas music, but had not recorded it. Studio time can be very expensive, as there are many elements that go into a project like this, from recording each individual part to mixing and mastering. Steve Rutledge, owner of Steel String Productions Recording Studio, stepped up right away. Steve’s studio is nestled in a quaint little town called Friendsville in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The studio is comfortable and artfully decorated with burgundy accent walls, oriental rugs, and beautifully crafted guitars displayed throughout. Steve is also an accomplished musician in his own right and will be featured on the album as well, doing his version of Silent Night.

Another element is the creation of the actual CD and art and graphic design for the sleeve. Before I could even finish my sentence in asking for help, Todd McCoig, President of AMG Media, offered to donate the discs and graphic design. AMG Media is a locally owned company focusing on brand marketing and media production. They are the leading professionals nationwide for infomercials, video production, web services, and design. They recently created a digital media kit for my band, which is another area they are expanding into. For more information, visit

Since AMG media is donating the CDs and their services, we will be able to donate proceeds to The Joy of Music with the very first CD sale, instead of having to cover costs first. Thanks to AMG Media, Steel Strings Recording Studio, and the local artists, we have no out-of-pocket expenses, including the advertising. We will be using both of our radio stations, 106.1 The River in Knoxville and 104.9 Q-Country in LaFollette, to promote the sale of the CD, along with various area merchants who have agreed to sell copies in their stores. Both stations will also be playing songs off of the CD on air during the month of December and within special holiday programming. It will also be available for purchase online at and at The Orangery during my Christmas show with The Corduroy Jazz Trio on December 20th.

I hope Knoxville will embrace this Christmas CD, which has been titled simply “For the Joy of Music.” I am truly blessed to have the support of 106.1 The River and 104.9 Q-Country, along with our community of artists and business owners to make this project possible. I also wanted to say a special thank you to my daughter, Elizabeth, for painting the album cover. It has been about three hours, and she is just now putting the finishing touches on what she calls “Curly Tree.” Elizabeth, you put the joy in my Christmas and into every day.

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