Get ready to listen (quickly!) to many versions of “What Child is This?” in very diverse styles as we tackle our biggest bracket yet for Advent Caroling Madness!
I had 29 submissions, and there were lots of interesting versions. So I eliminated one to whittle it to 28, created a 32 team bracket, and automatically advanced seeds 1 through 4. I did a little fudging with the seeding so that in this opening round, multiple submissions by the same person face off against each other, which sort of evens the playing field a bit, whittling down multiple submissions by the same person.
What this means is before the deadline of Monday at 8 pm PST, you will have to listen to 24 versions of What Child is This? and vote them down to 12. Then, between Monday and Wednesday, you’ll have the four top seeds to listen to as well, as they match up against those 12 winners. (In case you want to start your listening over the weekend, you’ll find I’ve given links to seeds 1-4 at the end of this post if you want to get a head start, even though you aren’t voting for any of those in this first round.)
Clear as mud? Here’s the bracket, and then off we go to the voting!
Our first voting matchup begins with #16 seed Street Corner Symphony, an a cappella group with an edgier vibe, submitted by Heidi Tschan. They face off against America’s Sweetheart and Lisby Curtis Gemeroy’s “This is who Christmas is all about”, #17 seed Amy Grant.
#8 seed Sufjan Stevens, our perennial millennial submission, comes to us this time from Sara Kelm. He battles the man who must have covered every Christmas song in existence by now, #25 seed Michael W. Smith (with Martina McBride)
So much love for #5 seed Lindsay Sterling! Vangie Patterson, Twila Tschan and Jill’s daughter (Jill suggested this on my blog without her last name, so I’m unsure which Jill…) all nominated this one. As the best seed to not get a first round bye, she faces the lowest seed in the field, #28 seed Kevin Corkan, who delivers a heavy metal drum solo cover…submitted by Kathleen Connell Edge.
As usual, since she was born for this Advent Caroling Madness, Bethany Bylsma gave me the most submissions. So this match up puts two of her babies against each other. #12 seed The Gardiner Sisters face off against #21 seed Mark Petrie, vocal blend vs. energetic movie soundtrack.
#13 seed Julie Andrews is another Bylsma nomination, and whether you think of her as Maria, Mary Poppins, or the Queen of Genovia, she has one of the most iconic voices of our time. She faces Susan Hampton’s submission, #20 Jordan Smith.
David Sherwood nominated an exceptional guitar trio instrumental. I really like it, #6 seed Don and Wendy Francisco and Jerry Palmer. They face off against #27 seed Neland, submitted as an underdog by Bob Ramsey.
I am going to get yelled at for this next seed. He has a lot of love, submitted by Jenn Perez and Bethany Bylsma, and I’m sure adored by many others. But I’m just not a fan of #11 seed Harry Connick Jr. But you all get to vote, so you can make me pay. He faces off against #22 seed Bad Religion, Bob Ramsey’s punk roots submission.
We had some great classic submissions, and as I wrestled through the seeding, a lot of them ended up stacked in the middle seeds. #14 seed Mahalia Jackson soulfully works through this song, a Kathleen Connell Edge submission. Kathleen also submitted #19 seed Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, so this is one of the matchups where we whittle down the multiple submission people.
#7 seed the Vince Guaraldi Trio was nominated by both Jenn Perez and the blog-anonymous Jill. Smooth, smooth jazz taking on the classic big choir sound of #26 Mitch Miller and the Gang, submitted by Kathleen Connell Edge.
David Sherwood served up some very nice nominations, so in this matchup, he faces himself to narrow things down. #10 seed John Coltrane is live jazz from the time when all the hep cats and beatniks lived and breathed it. They face #23 Chris Rupp, featuring a cappella group Home Free.
Finally, we have a couple of amazing voices pitted against one another in the last voting matchup of round 1. Stefan Czarnecki submitted the peerless #15 seed Johnny Mathis from back in his prime. Stefan and Johnny face Erin Knoch’s #18 seed Mandisa. (I felt like whoever produced/arranged this one didn’t do any favors to Mandisa, who I love. She could have had a better seed with a different arrangement.)
There you go! Get to listening, get to voting…there’s some great music! All votes must be in by Monday at 8 pm PST.
For those of you who have more time over the weekend to listen, I’ll introduce you to seeds 1 through 4 now…although they have byes in this round and have already advanced. These four are stylistically very different, and grabbed me in very different ways.
#4 seed Earth, Wind & Fire is the smooth groove of the funky 70’s. I absolutely love how original this is. Thanks to Bethany Bylsma for this one!
#3 seed Found Wandering was a delightful surprise, submitted by Doreen Fertello. Love the movement and depth of the intro, and then the nice shift and movement into the heart of the song. Good stuff!
#2 seed Bela Fleck and the Flecktones may produce a wide variety of reactions. I’m guessing some will really dislike it, but I absolutely loved this. Nate Macy and Bethany Bylsma submitted this, and it’s paired with a song that reminds me of the India tones our Hayley brought home from her senior year abroad.
Finally, #1 seed Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige just classically knocked it out of the park for me. It has the technical chops, classic sound, with enough uniqueness to propel it to number one. Thanks again to Bethany Bylsma for this one!