MARQUETTE - In some Decembers past, Negaunee native Jeffrey Jennings had put together a CD of Christmas music, sold during the season to benefit an Upper Peninsula charity.
This year, he's doing something different, for poignant reasons.
The CD won't be ready in time for Christmas, but because the theme is not holiday-related, that's not an issue. This time, Jennings, with the help of some talented friends, is putting together a disc of Broadway tunes that will be for sale right around Valentine's Day.
Bobby Glenn Brown, above, Kitty Rosman, below, and Janae Peterson, far right, join Negaunee native and singer Jeff Jennings on an upcoming benefit disc for the Alzheimer’s Association chapter in Marquette.
The charity to benefit again this year will be the Alzheimer's Association chapter in Marquette, an organization near to Jennings' heart.
His beloved father, William Jennings of Negaunee, died in March after a long battle with the disease.
"After the Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council's success this summer with the 'Broadway Review,' I thought it was the perfect time to act on an idea I've been kicking around for years," Jennings said. "Initially, I was going to do another Christmas collection this year after a two-year hiatus from that, but time got away and it just wasn't in the cards. So instead, I'll be recording 10-12 of my favorite Broadway tunes with the proceeds again going to Alzheimer's."
Jennings, who now lives in Green Bay, Wis., said that theme would make his father smile.
"My dad was a real music lover in general. I wouldn't say Broadway was his thing at first, but through the shows I have done, Broadway songs became his favorites," he said. "So that too is a major reason why I decided to do Broadway.
"It will be primarily acoustic just piano and myself with a few exceptions. My friend, Gary Krider, who arranged my originals, will be accompanying me on most of them."
But doesn't mean Jennings won't be getting a little help from some other friends with the disc.
"Bobby Glenn Brown will be doing a duet with me from 'The Secret Garden'," Jennings said. "We performed the song 'Lily's Eyes' together several times this past summer at PAAC and Lake Superior Theater."
All of which makes Brown ecstatic.
"I can honestly say it was an honor and a pleasure to sing with Jeff," Brown said. "He was kind enough to be in 'BGB & Friends' at the LST Boathouse this past summer and returned the favor by asking if I would sing on his CD.
"Dreams really do come true," Brown said. "U.P. style."
Other Jennings' duet partners are going to be part of the Broadway CD.
"Also I'm asking my former fourth-grade student, Heather Lee Wade, to sing with me again after such a tremendous response to our duets on the last CD and so will Kitty Rosman, a longtime friend and vocal partner. And it's exciting news that Janae Peterson, a freshman at Negaunee High School, is also going to be on."
Songs featured on the CD will include: "Corner of the Sky" from "Pippin"; "Last Night of the World" from "Miss Saigon"; "Can you Feel the Love Tonight" from "The Lion King"; "Close Every Door" from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"; "Almost Paradise" from "Footloose"; "Lily's Eyes" from "Secret Garden"; "What I did for Love" from "A Chorus Line": "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz"; and two more songs yet to be determined.
In all, Jennings has done eight benefit CDs, with this being the fourth for the Alzheimer's Association.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.