Colorado Springs, Sept. 19, 2012
Local blues man George Whitesell has been a fixture on the Colorado music scene for 35 years; ever since he moved here from his native New York State. For many years he played a variety of music in an effort to keep working, often laying heavy on country music.
In 1983 he wrote and recorded a song that became a local hit. The song told of the perils of driving (what was at that time) the city’s most dangerous street. The tune was called Pray for Me (I Drive Academy) and one could not turn on the radio, no matter what station, and NOT hear the song.
In 1990, Whitesell desired to play the music he loved the most, blues. He had three very popular bands over the next 22 years; Eclectic Rhythm & Blues, Metro Blues and George Whitesell & his All Stars. He became a fixture on the blues festival circuit and club scene.
Then something happened to change his life. He became, in 1998, a professional mall Santa Claus settling at a mall in the Jackson, Mississippi suburb of Ridgeland. His popularity and following grew immensely during the eight Christmas seasons spent there. When word got out that he was a singer, his “grand arrivals” at the mall each year would include Santa leading children in Christmas songs.
Whitesell recorded a CD of Christmas tunes called, Santa Sings Children’s Favorites and would sell them on the photo set each year. He was also asked to be a lead performer in the 2002 Miss Mississippi Pageant, performing as Santa Claus. The theme for the pageant that year was. “We Need a Little Christmas”, an interesting concept and challenge for Mississippi in the sweltering June heat!
The economic downturn in the country forced Whitesell to take a better offer for his alter ego and he has been appearing at a mall in Houston, TX, since 2010.
It was during the Christmas season last year that the singer /songwriter within him forced Whitesell to come up with a unique idea for a Christmas song; an idea and concept that has not been done before, a Christmas song actually sung by Santa himself! The song is called “Santa’s Wish”.
Whitesell has recorded the song and his goal is to have it placed in a Hollywood movie.
In an effort to market the song for the Christmas seasons, Whitesell wrote a children’s story book with the focal point being the song itself. He enlisted the aid of a friend he made (while working in Mississippi) to illustrate the book; Pulitzer Prize nominee and syndicated editorial cartoonist, Marshall Ramsey.
With the challenge of financing a self-published book with accompanying CD containing narration of the story and studio recording of the song “Santa’s Wish”, Whitesell turned to the popular crowd funding platform, Kickstarter, to raise the necessary money. When a person pledges support for the project, a supporter can receive rewards at different levels of participation or simply just wish to help. It’s the new age way for a person to become a “Patron of the Arts”, and has helped many artists succeed in bringing their creative project to fruition.
To present his plea for help in the fundraising effort, Whitesell recorded a video (using green screen technology) in which he, the well-known blues man interviews his alter ego Santa Claus. Then, with Whitesell sitting at the piano and Santa sitting by his side and singing, the two perform “Santa’s Wish” together.
The video and complete explanation of the Kickstarter campaign may be viewed by going to www.kickstarter.com and entering Santa’s Wish in the search.