I love music and the creative process so much, I am always thankful for the chance to create something new. The Sweet Bye and Bye, is the second in a series I have begun with themes of redemption, reconciliation and faith. The first of this series, a hymn cover CD titled “Angels Watching Over Me” was a co production of Eli Thomson and Richard Swift. This latest project is my own concoction of original songs of worship and personal hymns written in the spirit of old time gospel and expressions of faith. My childhood was filled with stories of miraculous workings and ways God spoke to both my grandfathers as Pentecostal preachers starting out in the 50’s a little before the day of the televangelist was upon us. The sheer grit and tenacity that they had to face trials and seek divine guidance has stayed in my memory very strongly. My Grandpa Stover was a miner in Leadville, Colorado when he felt the call to preach. He was in the valley of decision as he says, about quitting the mine and going into the ministry, so he wanted to send out a fleece. He told the Lord “I am going to go into town to the general store and if the box of rye crisps that has been on the shelf for a year sells while I am there, I will know you called me Lord”. So as the story goes, while he was there waiting around, a lady he had never seen before came in, told the clerk she needed rye crisps for her diet, the clerk led her over to the box, and she went to the counter and bought the crackers. From that day forward my Grandpa Stover was a minister for the next 46 years, eventually settling in Farmington, New Mexico where he was pastor of a church. I admired the simple faith and steadfast way they walked on their paths. I wanted to find that place and sing of faith with that same spirit. I also wanted to marry my love of American roots music with my love of the gospel and the story of Jesus which is told so many different ways from generation to generation. I was raised in the Calvary Chapel affiliate my dad started in Sacramento, California in the mid 1970’s which exposed me to some of the Jesus movement of music, including some country rock bands, folk music, not much gospel music, and now many more genres of music including modern and alternative rock. I am also happy some of the ancient hymns are still being sung. Here is what Eli wrote about our 04’ hymns project,” Angels Watching Over Me" by Julissa Neely is a continuant collection of 10 ancient hymns, modern hymns, and would-be hymns, spanning myriad musical styles. The sonic goal of this project was to present this collection in a contemporary way - that could be legitimately transferred to a congregational context - without overtly compromising with the subtle beauty of the original lyric and melody. This is music for the edification of all who listen; remark: Incomplete sentence age, musical taste, or even spirituality. I have worked on several hymns projects over the years, and had grown weary of the typical pseudo-modern production that peppers these projects. The popular view seemed to be, that if you throw a drum-loop underneath a hymn, that would in-and-of-itself make the hymn feel modern, and therefore open it up to a wider audience. This approach seemed lazy to me, and in my opinion neither made the hymn feel modern, nor opened it up to a wider audience. Julissa came to this project with an honest desire to do something different, therefore allowing a very creative environment to flourish during production. My hope is that this record will take you on a musical journey, experiencing the familiar majesty of aging spiritual artwork in a unique new way, and experiencing a few newer offerings that carry on the tradition of these historic works.