About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Over this past weekend I attended the SCGS 41st Annual Genealogy Jamboree and was inspired by the blogger summit (as I was last year . . . each year I get new inspirations). Thomas MacEntee, who organized Geneabloggers, promotes and hosts daily blogging themes and Randy Seaver, who writes Genea-Musings, has his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Now, I have already figured out my niche - music and ancestry - but how to get others involved at a time when I might be able to encourage participation? I came up with a "Sunday Singalong," just like we did when we'd get together as a family around the piano (and, later, the organ), me with guitar, singing the family's favorites. Now, singing along on the Internet is not going to be an easy task, but if you dig deep into your memory, I'll bet you can remember some of the favorite old songs that you sang at camp, in church, in scouts, with family, etc.

So here's the plan: I will propose a general topic and you search your memory (but it's an "open book" exercise, so go ahead and look at music books in your home or look at old photos to jog the memory) and suggest a song that will fit the theme. If you want to share some of the words from your preferred version, that would be great, but if lack of time dictates that you to keep it short and just enter a title, that's fine, too! You can also add why the song is significant or memorable to you.

The topic today: Gospel songs. Over the weekend, Thomas MacEntee and I talked about one of my favorite songs: "Will the Circle be Unbroken" (if you haven't already figured it out, that is the song that inspired the name of my business, my website, and this blog - Circlemending . . . working to mend that broken circle with those on both sides of the grave) and he mentioned the precursor to that song (I'll let him tell about it, if he so desires). My favorite verse of that song - "Will the Circle be Unbroken" - says: "One by one, the seats were emptied; one by one they went away. Now my family, they're all departed; will we meet again some day?" I believe we will.

So now it's your turn: Got a gospel song to share? OK to recommend a set of lyrics you've found on line, an MP3, or a Youtube link you have found that features your selection. Put it in the comments. Let the singalong begin!!


  1. My mother tells me all the time that I am the spitting image of her grandmother. Her fondest memories of her grandmother are of her in the kitchen (in rural Southeastern Kansas in the 1940's) preparing Sunday dinner while belting out old gospel songs with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth! LOL "We Shall Gather At The River" was one of her favorites.

  2. I do like that song, Sheri! The picture is very vivid!

  3. Sorry I missed the Sing-a-long yesterday, but I hope I can still add one of my favorites!

    An Unclouded Day. And no one sings it better than my friend, Willie Nelson.

    You can hear it here:

  4. The Old Rugged Cross was my grandfather's favorite. He could play it on the piano even though he never learned to read music. I can still hear him singing . . . Every time I hear that song, it reminds me of him.

  5. If you know the old spiritual "Glory Glory Hallelujah (Since I Laid My Burden Down), the melody is the same as Will The Circle Be Unbroken

  6. How about "I'll Fly Away" by the Crimson River Quartet? It's one of many of my favorites. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OISgPn0a2AU


  7. Thomas MacEntee & I had great fun singing "I'll Fly Away" at the Jamboree, impromptu singalong this past weekend. I do love that song!

  8. A good idea Jean, this song for me is wonderfull!!!
    I remember when i was girl...i sang this song in spanish...