Artist: Kay Gingrich, 67

Have you been playing music your whole life? We have music in our family. My grandfather (John Rothermel) was a music teacher. I had a lot of time to be with my grandparents and . . . sometimes when parents or Mom or Grandmom were busy, (my grandfather) would take me along to his music store (in Millersburg) and I would sit and listen to him while he would teach. Consequently, you learn a few things. (I) learned how to play a few instruments. My dad played with a dance band when he was younger. He was more of a jazz musician. My father was also an artist, so I have some leanings in that direction as well.

What instruments did you play? My grandfather had several orchestras. Some of the orchestras were as many as 100-piece orchestras. When I grew up, he had accordion bands known as the Millersburg Accordionettes. We had our own bus, and we traveled and did all the fairs and things like that. I was an accordion player first. After that . . . I took violin lessons and flute lessons. Currently, I'm the organist at our church (Carpenter's Workshop Fellowship in Seven Valleys).

What musicians influenced you? To be truthful, I lived in a house that did not subscribe to rock 'n' roll music. We were not particularly allowed to involve ourselves in any of that until I got older, and I heard it anyhow. I really just like music. I like all kinds of music. I like classical music. I do love gospel music. Some country songs have some good messages to them. If it's a good message, I enjoy it.

You have a Christmas recording coming out, correct? For years, I've just kind of fooled around and written songs and never thought a lot about it. One day, I got an email about a contest that Paramount music group was holding. I thought, "I'm going to dig one of these Christmas songs out and send it in." They wanted to know if I had any interest in recording that song . . . called "You're The Christmas Tree In My Heart." Then, I wrote another one after that called "Christmas Miracle," and they wanted to record that as well. Both of those are available now on iTunes. After that, I wrote another song and just got it back called "The Christmas Blessing."

You've also written books. Last year, I also wrote a children's book . . . called "The Giggle of the Snow." Right now, I have a new book that's in publication. That one should be out before Christmas. That's (also) a Christmas book ("Hobby Horses, Silly Gooses and Other Invited Guests"). Being at my age - and I don't consider myself an old person - there are things I really wanted to do, and I thought now is a good time to do them. Whether or not they become big things is sort of irrelevant.

Are you more inspired during the holidays? I generally am inspired during the fall and winter months. I do so love Christmas. Both (my husband, Gerry) and I are pastors. Christmas is just the ultimate (time) for me in terms of my sense of spiritual growth. I've always loved the winter, (even) as a child. I loved to play in the snow. I have great memories of sledding. Winter is a good inspiration for me. A lot of people don't like the winter; it's dark and it's cold. But I do. (Laughs)

Are any songs or books based on your own memories? The one song - "Christmas Miracle" - was based on a friend of mine whose mother had had a stroke, and they really didn't expect her to live. The song . . . was really sort of aimed at that, even though when you listen to the song it really speaks about the birth of Christ. But I was thinking about her when I wrote it. I always keep a pen and pad next to my bed, and I also keep one next to the piano. Sometimes, the words come first and sometimes the music (does). I had listened (to) an interview with Larry King and Stevie Wonder. Larry asked him . . . how (he) gets a song. (Wonder) said, I just pray and ask God for a song and I get one.

Being a mother and grandmother, do you share your music with your family? Everybody wants to have a legacy. I really want my life to count for something I did for God to make the world a better place. God . . . gave me some creative genes, and I want to be faithful to use the gifts God gave to me.

- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff


Listen to the interview:

Read more artist interviews:

Read or Share this story: