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About the composer…

One of the things I’ve discovered as I’ve grown up (?) is that I’m rather predictable. I like to stay at home; I would rather watch a favorite old movie than try a new one I might hate; my idea of the perfect vacation is taking the phone off the hook for a week and watching my garden grow.

Now, don’t pity me–boring is comfortable. It does, however, make it difficult to think of things to tell about myself. So here are a few less-than-serious things that might not send you to sleep on the spot. If you’re interested, read on. If not, be thankful browsers come with “back” buttons.

Two baby pixI was born, as one publisher wrote on a flyleaf, “a long time ago.” He then proceeded to give the date. Which I shall not do. The great event took place in Eugene, Oregon, where people rust instead of tanning. (When I was a kid, someone published “Oregon Un-greeting” cards, meant to warn people away from the lovely state. I learned that line and many other cheery things like it from those.)

I’ve been married to the best man in the world (who just keeps getting better) since 1979. Dennis and I met at BYU, got married, had kids… and that’s when my real education started. We have four children, and now the baby is all grown up.

We currently live in Colorado Springs, where people fry instead of tanning. We average 250 sunny days a year. Drop in and bring your sunscreen.  🙂

My earliest musical training included watching Lawrence Welk with my grandmother. My childhood dream was to “sing just like Norma Zimmer.” Didn’t happen.

My education also included listening to grandma practice on the accordion.  All of this makes me wonder why I never learned to polka.

Grandpa used to sing me to sleep accompanied by his banjo. Quite a cultured heritage I’ve got!  (Yes, I was born in black and white. Cameras had just been invented.)

I was in Sunbeam class with Danny Ainge, who occasionally had to be restrained from climbing out the window. (I suppose that means I’m old enough to retire–from the NBA anyway.) I was also in freshman music theory with Kurt Bestor, who never did try to climb out the window. Neither of them knew I existed, but I forgive them since they are my only claims to fame.

I love sports–as a spectator. I live in snow country and have never been snow skiing. (How do you spell chicken?) I’m still a true-blue Cougar fan. For awhile I was a jinx of the worst kind, since every time we attended a bowl game, the Cougars lost spectacularly. We broke the jinx, however, the year we drove to a bowl game in a snow storm, and ended up sleeping on the road for 5 hours while a jack-knifed tractor-trailer rig was towed off. We showed up at the game too bleary-eyed to see straight, but they won.

Hey, whatever it takes.

24 Comments

  1. Ken Myers

    I am the choirmaster at Joliet First Presbyterian Church. Your music has been a part of my solo work and choral work for many years. I am always amazed that I can go to a site providing free compositions and find music of the highest quality, equal to commercial providers like Mark Hayes, Lee Dengler, Mary McDonald, Pepper Choplin and others. Yes, free is always enticing to any conductor and performer, but it has recently filled a need due to the pandemic. Our current services are being delivered virtually minus my wonderful choir. To keep music as an important component while I have been self-quarantined, I have been working through your song list and preparing multiple selections for my pastoral staff to include in our weekly broadcast via YouTube. I have always enjoyed singing your music, but over this last 9 weeks I have added 15 new pieces to my repertoire so far. They have added greatly to our worship, especially through the thread of hope you often weave into your lyrics. So thank you for your gift to me and to my congregation. Continue what you do in Peace and with your obvious Love of our worship language, music.

    Reply
  2. BAI

    Praise God for the gift of music in you!

    Reply
  3. David L Hemsley

    I love your music. I learned to Polka for my first dance festival in 1969. I am the ward music chairman in my congregation. My second wife and I sang “How Great is the Miracle” in church. I am planning to do it again this year. I do not know, if my wife will do it again. My first wife, Donna, died last July. I retired that same month. Keep up the good work. It would take me about 10 minutes to teach you how to polka. I became a dance director right after Donna and I married. I would love to see you again, but more important to me would be to discuss some of the things we have been doing at church in Dayton, Nevada. We now have three choirs, including a choir for women/young women and a choir for men/young men. I am able to sing with the men/young men as well as the main choir. A member of our congregation invited me to sing with the Carson City Chamber Choir. I really enjoy it.

    Reply
  4. Mary Beth

    I am such a fan of your compositions. We are so blessed at the church I work at: We do your music regularly. Christmas Morning we are singing A CAROLE TO THE KING, along with the handbell choir: I arranged a score for them similar to the piano accompaniment. I would love to attend one of your concerts. Are you in Salt Lake City? That is on my bucket list.

    Reply
  5. Steve Roman

    Ma’am,

    Can you help finish a song that my girlfriends son started on the Piano? He took his own lufe 1 year ago and it would really help in the healing process. I would be so grateful.

    Reply
  6. Immo Huneke

    I enjoyed performing your arrangement of “Oh Holy Night” as a tenor solo as a communion anthem during the Christmas season at St Michael and All Angels, in South Beddington, Surrey, at the end of 2017 and the audience enjoyed it too! I hope to give a repeat performance at the Carshalton Frost Fair this weekend.

    Reply
  7. Kathryn J Martin

    Dear Sally, I don’t know if you’ll ever get this message. I wish I could sit and talk with you about how you changed my life! Have you ever lived in Provo Utah? I’m the Summer of 1993ish maybe? I’m trying to piece this part of my life together or rather this particular girls camp experience. It was the first time I’d ever heard of the savior stood beside me. Our Stake Camp music director brought her guitar up to Camp Mia Shalom and taught it to us. I remember that woman as being either you or another woman whose name I’m trying to track down. I’m hoping it’s you! I was 12 years old and well if I ever meet you I’ll tell you how that song and two other simple songs I learned at camp that year got me through some very dark days while I was kidnapped from my own home, and later stalked by two seperate people one of whom ended up in prison because of stalking me. Anyway- I LOVE you! Hopefully one day I can meet you!

    Reply
    • sallydeford

      Kathryn, that’s quite a disturbing experience you had! I’m glad those songs helped you through it. I’m not the person you remember, so your hunt continues, but I am thankful that I was of some help to you during that time. <3

      Reply
  8. Patti Bell

    Dear Sally,
    I love your music because it connects with my soul. I first heard, If the Savior Stood Beside Me at a baptism in Kent Washington years ago. Later our choir director introduced us to Write Thy Name Upon My Heart. I now live in Orem Utah and have served as choir director for 4 years. Last year we sang Because He Lives. This Easter we will be singing In the Silent Garden. All I pray for is that the members of the choir will feel the spirit testify of the truths that we sing. Your music permits that to happen. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Lisa Powell

    Sally, I am an old friend from Fort Collins. I have talked with you many years ago once or twice on the phone. I think my website is still listed on yours as a reference. www.lisapowellmusic.com
    I am back to writing arrangements and am currently arranging a new tune version of “Master the Tempest is Raging”. I would love to talk with you about how you come up with accompaniments, etc. If that would work any time, please text me at xxxxxxxxx. Otherwise I have a big binder where I have studied your music as inspiration for many pieces. Ironically the one I always come back to is “I Need Thee Every Hour”. I love the minor section and the change of accompaniment. I talked with a well known composer in Utah, went to his house, and the thing that he told me was to always be changing it up on a composition, to keep the listener interested in the piece. I try and do that and try to change keys, etc. Anyway, keep up the great work. I have also communicated with Nathan Howe who is also writing excellent pieces as well here in the “land of inspiration”, Colorado!

    Reply
  10. Marilyn Perry

    I would love it if you could do an arrangement of “It Is Well With My Soul”. It is such a beautiful song but needs a little…something. You are just the person to do it. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Eric Welling

    What a wonderful gift that you have been blessed with and openly share with others! Your music and lyrics resonate and awaken familiar memories. Thanks for sharing your inspired gift and brings happiness and warm familiar memories to others. “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” was the special number in our Sacrament meeting today. It was a fitting expression of love for the Savior by the performing artist and by you for having composed it.

    Reply
  12. Karen Schulteis

    Sally, I do believe that your choral arrangement of “O Holy Night” is the best I’ve ever used over the course of 40 plus years. Thank you!
    Karen Schulteis

    Reply
  13. Andrea

    I love your piano duet for “My Heavenly Father Loves Me”. I played in 2 other wards I have been in going back to 2008. I never had a problem with getting someone to play with me until I moved back to AZ. I would love to play it again in my new ward, however, having trouble getting someone to play with me, maybe I’m that “big of a nerd”. I love your songs. Thank you.

    Reply
  14. Kay Jean Poulson

    I am looking for the Church’s requirements for submitting a hymn. Do you have the actual harmony and musical requirements for the hymn tune? Not looking for the text requirements.
    Please answer as soon as possible. I have looked in lds.org but only see HOW to SUBMIT a hymn–not the actual requirements other than must be hymn-like.

    Reply
  15. imee

    Thank you for this amazing music! I am so glad and blessed to find this website. It’s a great help for me. God bless you more. 🙂

    Reply
  16. Mwinda Munyandi

    Hi Sally! Greetings from Zambia. I am a big fan of your music and my favourite is, “If I listen with my heart”. Am kindly requesting for the exact music of the song in your recording. Thank you

    Reply
  17. Lynn Rowley

    I cannot say enough about how amazing and wonderful you are– to do what you do with your music is so amazing. Thank you for you talent and for your kindness — I again am so amazed that you so willingly and generous share your gifts to the world— I am so grateful for my sister, whose children sing your beautiful songs, to teach me about Sally DeFord.
    This Sunday in Sacrament meeting, my niece sang your ‘I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day’ –not a dry eye in the audience

    Reply
  18. Rita West

    I am writing a history of Christmas music for my church’s Christmas Eve service. Do you have a story behind “Jesus, Lord at Thy Birth?”

    Reply
    • sallydeford

      The title and first line were inspired by the final line of “Silent Night.” Other than that, there’s not really much back story for this one, other than Christmas itself of course!

      Reply
  19. Jessica Heidt

    I love your music! I Just graduated in piano performance and am a composer and arranger as well. I love to teach as well and am starting my own studio. Looking forward to following your blog!

    Reply
  20. Patty R Stone

    Sister Deford, your music holds a special place in my heart and I am so appreciative for your generosity in making it so available to all of us. For some years I have accompanied ward choirs, primary and now play for our small branch in the most northern village in Alaska, right on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. It is not an easy thing to get to a good music store and as Christmas is quickly approaching I want to start playing Christmas songs for prelude. This website is an answer to my silent prayers.

    Thank you,

    Patty Stone

    Reply
    • sallydeford

      Thank you, Patty! As I read this, I tried to imagine the difficulty of getting to a good music store from the northern-most small town in Alaska… I’m sure my imagination didn’t do it justice. 🙂

      Reply
  21. Hermie & Tim.

    Thank you Sister Deford for pondering over and writing beautiful music and inspired words.

    Your words and thoughts help us to endure well in this life.

    Thank you so much again,

    Hermie and Tim Griffiths

    Reply

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