Making ‘Peace Be Still’ gives inspiration for local singer

Marilyn Thompson has been singing since she was a little girl — and now, with help from her husband and family — she has a professional Nashville-recorded CD to show for it.

“Peace Be Still” features eight original songs of gospel/inspirational music written by Thompson featuring “some of the best musicians available,” Thompson said of the recording.

“Most people take two or three months for a CD, and I only had one day of studio time with the musicians. It was amazing because they heard the song demo one time and they played it like they had heard it 50 times. That’s what you get when you have quality players because that’s what they do for a living. It was very rewarding to me, the experience was amazing,” Thompson said.

Thompson and her family traveled to Nashville’s Trinity Broadcasting Network Studios in 2012 and her recording session featured a sound engineer that had worked with the Oak Ridge Boys. The musical experience was far different from Thompson’s childhood life growing up in The Dalles.

“I was raised in a very close and happy family, but we didn’t have a lot of money and a lot of our entertainment was music. I would play music with my two brothers and three sisters; we just loved music. My mom played mandolin, guitar and piano and we did a lot of country music and sang at different venues. We didn’t worry about how good we sounded, we just had fun,” she said.

The idea to make the CD was initiated by Thompson’s husband, Robert. The couple works in a ministry that reaches out to people all over the world. But Thompson wanted to keep the focus of why her music was important.

“A lot of my background is gospel music and I spent a lot of time going to different places in the ministry with my husband to sing. He’s been saying for years that I should go to Nashville and make a CD. I thought that would be fun and I started to realize I would really like to make a CD of peace, because there are so many hurting people that need peace nowadays,” Thompson said.

So when the opportunity finally arrived to do just that, Thompson took some of the songs she had written over the years and used her good fortune to make music that could help people in need.

“I was surprised when I got to do this, because my family knows my heart is not into making money from this and getting famous. But when my husband’s brother called and gave us the opportunity to go to Nashville, I knew my purpose was to bring peace to people, and if you listen to the music, you’ll see what I mean,” Thompson said.

So far Thompson has sent the music she made to people in Pakistan, Indonesia, Africa, Costa Rica, and the United States, a decision that has been a rewarding one.

“Out of all the singing I’ve done, this is the most rewarding, because I see the songs are really making a change in people, and that’s what my life is all about, that’s my passion,” Thompson said.

The “tremendous positive impact” was evident, Thompson said, during the recording process, when the studio manager, after hearing one of the vocal tracks, recommended additional promotional avenues for the songs.

“I was hesitant at first, but I was given a contact for a company that represented a huge network of radio stations. They called me back and asked me which songs I would like to have played on the air. Two of my songs have been on the top 100 on the inspirational charts for several months, ‘I Am Your Anchor’ and ‘I Am Your Peace,’” Thompson said.

Thompson’s CD is also available on iTunes and through the website CD Baby. She is always amazed when she gets feedback from strangers who have listened to her music.

“I’ve gotten letters that have said my songs have made a tremendous positive impact on their lives. Tell me that’s not off the charts,” Thompson said.

Thompson said most of the 50 or so songs she has written come from personal experience, and she is inspired by several genres including classical, contemporary and pop.

“A lot of my songs are about what I’m going through at the time. For my song ‘I Am Your Anchor,’ I was going through a real hard time physically and it was bringing me a lot of depression. The song helped me get through that. When I sit with the guitar I find it’s very important to take a pen and pad with me, and I just start writing out of my own heart and I can actually feel what the song inspires. Sometimes the words just come just like God is speaking to me. To me, there’s nothing strange about it, it’s just downright peaceful, comforting stuff,” Thompson said.

The peaceful theme is represented on the CD cover, too, with an iconic view of Mount Hood — a sight close to home for the Thompsons for the last 14 years.

“It’s so beautiful, it’s just a picture of peace to me. When I was choosing a cover I asked myself — what really looks like peace? I know it could be waterfall ... and then I just thought of Mount Hood. We enjoy it so much when we go out there and drive,” Thompson said.

Thompson is preparing songs for a second CD, and planning a new website for her music. She and her husband would like to travel with the ministry, too.

“We’ve had invitations to go to Africa, and Pakistan, we’re hoping to get ready to travel soon,” Thompson said.

But Thompson was sure to point out one destination she’d like to return to as soon as time and resources become available.

“Oh it’s definitely back to Nashville for the next CD. I’ve already contacted them and we’re coming back as soon as we can raise the funds to do a new project,” Thompson said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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