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New CD aims to ease the stress the holiday season can bring

There's a new CD out for this holiday season that's a little different from the usual collection of Christmas music.

"Music and Meditations for Christmas" is the first release of Suite Afton Productions, a recording company formed by friends Linda Kelsey, Deb Clayton, Patty Matthews and Lee Baker. According to Kelsey, who lives in Hudson, the women wanted to do something together and "make a difference."

"We have all made it in our respective careers and felt we were at time in our lives when we wanted to give back. We got together and talked about what that could be and came up with this idea. It's just the first in several we have planned," said Kelsey.

The music, performed by Clayton, on the CD includes some Christmas classics like "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "The First Noel" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." To accompany the music, Kelsey reads a series of reflections that include her take on both the serious and not-so-serious sides of the season.

Kelsey, who has made voice recordings before, said, "It's harder than it sounds. It's a little intimidating sitting all by yourself in the booth with headsets on, but I think the key is turning it into a conversation, imagining someone is there with you."

Kelsey says she aims to get the equivalent of "a twinkle in the eye" when she reads. "It has to do with how you engage the words."

Kelsey says the collaborative effort made use of each of the women's skills. Clayton is an accomplished classical pianist. Baker has more than 30 years in the public relations field, and Matthews has had an equally long career in marketing.

Kelsey, who moved to Hudson with her family several years ago, is a professional actress who has appeared on stage, in movies and on television.

The production of the CD has been in high gear since the women came up with the idea in August. By October they were in a studio at Minnesota Public Radio to record, and the CD went on sale Nov. 1.

Among the other projects Suite Afton has planned are recordings that include music and poetry inspired by nature, a CD dealing with grief and loss, and one of daily meditations for living.

The CD is available at and at Et Cetera in downtown Hudson. A selection from the CD is also available for preview at the Web site. To contact Suite Afton call (651) 338-9561.

Meg Heaton can be reached at

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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