The Austin Carolers
Meet the Austin Carolers!
Meet the Carolers | Schedule | Our Repertoire | Sound Clips | Read About Us
WATCH the 11/29/13 KXAN news piece about the Georgetown Lighting of the Square, featuring The Austin Carolers:
Where else but Austin can you find a vocal quintet that sails seamlessly from traditional Christmas songs to jazzy arrangements of seasonal pop tunes, with accompaniment on a 1929 four-string tenor guitar? That group is The Austin Carolers, Austin’s only professional caroling ensemble. From concert setting to sing-along parties, youngsters to oldsters, we bring the joy of the season through song.
The Austin Carolers are five seasoned professionals who joined forces in 1994, because we love to sing – especially the songs of Christmas. We have also been playing music together in other contexts for many years, so we bring our long-time friendships to our group. Our “newest” member, Craig Lowery, joined us full-time in 2011 and made us a quintet — we had been a quartet for our first sixteen years together. We love our new size. The Austin Carolers’ repertoire includes both traditional carols and popular Christmas tunes, sung with great flair with either guitar accompaniment or in the more traditional unaccompanied style. Many of our arrangements have been created for us by Grammy-nominated arranger and composer Bill Ginn. These arrangements are unique, ours alone, and set us apart as a caroling group. We also write our own arrangements – and lyrics – which reflect life in Austin at Christmas time. Truly, we are not your grandmama’s Carolers.
The Austin Carolers often stroll, singing as we go, children following behind. When we find a spot we like, we do draw a crowd. We have been sighted from the aisles of Central Market to the pathways of the Arboretum, the Georgetown Tree Lighting Celebration in Georgetown Square, the Triangle Tree Lighting, the Domain Shops and Round Rock Premium Outlet Malls, the Village at Westlake… we get around. Of course, we perform shows standing still, and we adapt our show to all occasions: private parties, corporate receptions, office Christmas parties or concerts. We can add instruments – such as piano – or turn the show into a singalong. Our costumes are Charles Dickens era, but our music is timeless.
“The Austin Carolers were simply wonderful, in sound and appearance and spirit.
They added a whole new dimension to our Cookies for Caring event.
We’d be delighted to work with them again. Two thumbs up!”
Jill Williams, Marketing Manager, The Driskill
The Austin Carolers’ founder, soprano and bandleader is Mady Kaye, known in Austin for her many years of fine jazz vocals. She has a wealth of choral experience, and has been creating arrangements for The Austin Carolers since the group’s inception. She also writes additional lyrics for many of the secular Christmas songs. Mady is a renowned vocal coach, as well as a studio vocal producer and songwriter, and leader of The Beat Divas.
Libby Hart, alto, is a veteran of several show bands and pop vocal groups. Her warm and versatile voice is the cohesive force that binds the Carolers. The Carolers do not exaggerate when we tell you that Libby is bursting with personality. She brings her incredible enthusiasm to all her endeavors, whether it’s as a “Foodie” at Central Market or as a singer in the Riverbend Chorale or with Sotto Voce, a select choir at Riverbend Church.
Craig Lowery, tenor, is our most recent member, having joined The Austin Carolers full-time in 2011. He has a big and sumptuous voice, and is a gifted musician and arranger. Craig has been arranging vocal parts at Riverbend Church for many years, as well as soloing and singing with several Riverbend choirs. In non-musical realms, Craig is a Director of Research of cloud computing at Gartner Inc.
Paul Spikes sang tenor with The Austin Carolers for the group’s first sixteen years and switched to bass in 2011. He’s ever so much happier… those tenor parts just kept getting higher every year. When Paul is not singing, he is most often to be found behind his upright bass. He has played for years with various jazz bands around Austin, as well as with The Beat Divas and Mady Kaye’s ensembles. Paul is also a wonderful harmonica player. The Austin Carolers are featuring him on several songs this season… we hope to find more.
The Carolers’ bass, Art Kidd, is the only living Yale graduate to decline an invitation to join the esteemed vocal group “The Whiffenpoofs.” Art has many years of singing experience, but he is best known in the Austin area as a fine drummer. He’s the go-to drummer for many, many bands. Another expression of Art’s musicianship is that he’s an accomplished ukulele and guitar player. He plays a 1929 Martin tenor guitar (four-string) with the Carolers on some of our swinging Christmas pop tunes.
“Your group is beyond marvelous – not only a superb musical ensemble but also a delightful entertainment, drawing in your audience in an intimate and engaging way. You looked and sounded just right in our 1855 house!”
Chairman, Friends of the Neill-Cochran House Museum
“Thank you so much for performing at the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in the Texas House Chambers. I so appreciated your responsiveness, professionalism, and flexibility during the planning and performance. Y’all are a dream to work with!”
Brenda Tharp, Coordinator
The Austin Carolers: Straight Out of a Charles Dickens Novel
Rare Magazine, December 2008, article by Darcie Duttweiler
“The Austin Carolers, which consist of Mady Kaye, Libby Hart Barnes, Paul Spikes and Art Kidd, invited me to their first practice of the season (during one incredibly warm night, making Christmas feel even further away), and welcomed me… fussed over me, asking me questions about myself and demanding sweetly that I eat some chocolate cookies… they then sang me carols while dressed in Charles Dickens-esque caroling costumes…”
“Thanks so much for performing at our Miracle Market. The Carolers’ performance was awesome. We have received so many wonderful comments. Many have said that the music was the best part of the evening!”
Margie Brindley, Dell Children’s Medical Center
Meet the Austin Carolers Too!
The Austin Carolers are so pleased to welcome our five newest members to the Austin Carolers family. These folks are our friends and colleagues, each with excellent musical pedigree and years of vocal experience. The Austin Carolers Too sing the same great arrangements as The Austin Carolers, and they bring great energy and positive attitude to gigs just like the original group. In our 20th year as a band, 2014, we felt it was the perfect time to grow. So meet the new kids on the block!
Evelyn LaLonde, soprano, is thrilled to be part of The Austin Carolers Too family. She sings and acts regularly in musicals in the Austin area with a variety of groups including Austin Theatre Project and The Georgetown Palace Theatre. Evelyn produces her own cabaret act from time to time and enjoys playing guitar and ukulele. When not performing, Evelyn works as a recruiter.
Michelle Cheney, soprano alternate, is a veteran of musical theater and performance in Austin. She has written and produced her own cabaret shows and has received B-Iden Payne awards and nominations for her stage work. And she’s enjoyed playing great musical roles, from Adelaide to Miss Mona. Michelle works in marketing and loves to sing Christmas carols in July!
Deborah (Deb) Acevedo-Tamminga, alto and Austin Carolers Too bandmaster, has performed in local musicals and operettas in the Austin area. She taught elementary school music in the Lockhart, Austin, and Lake Travis school districts for many years. Deb is an active member of the Riverbend Chorale where she serves as a soloist and background vocalist. She frequently conducts the choir for the Sunday morning “Celebrate” service. When not singing she is either working with first-year teachers or hiking and traveling.
Monte Mann, tenor, is a very busy guitarist/vocalist and musician about town. His four semesters as a member of the University of North Texas Men’s Chorus in Denton, TX, have served him well in preparing his parts for the Austin Carolers Too. In addition to performing with a multitude of bands in Austin, Monte gives guitar lessons and runs an intimate recording studio from his home in South Austin.
Jan Seides (sigh-deez), tenor and/or alto, is an award-winning singer-songwriter, having won awards from regional to national songwriting competitions. She has performed in the U.S. and Europe, to great acclaim. She is the “Mary” stand-in for Gourmet Blend, a Peter, Paul & Mary tribute band. Jan is a graduate of the UT School of Music, and the only Austin Carolers Too member with perfect pitch. When not writing or performing, she has a busy teaching practice offering lessons on voice, guitar, piano and mandolin.
John White, bass, arrived in Austin in the ’70s with the Air Force, and hasn’t found a good reason to leave. He has been adding his smooth, low-end resonance to vocal ensembles of all sorts over the years, with an emphasis on barbershop and other a cappella quartets. You might have heard some of John’s studio work, including backup vocals on dozens of albums and soundtracks, and many local jingles. He plays no musical instruments, unless you count the kazoo. In real life, John is a computer geek, currently employed as a virtual server wrangler at a cloud services startup.
The Austin Carolers Too were AMAZING! We so enjoyed their performance, and they were able to get the crowd involved and in the spirit despite the lousy weather. They were a true delight. Thanks so much for a wonderful performance that added so much to our event!
Christine Cruise, RioCan America Management, Southpark Meadows Mall
This is just a partial list of our repertoire. Please ask us if you don’t see a favorite tune listed.
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Caroling Caroling
- Deck the Halls
- The First Noel
- Frosty the Snowman
- Fum, Fum, Fum
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Good King Wenceslas
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- The Holly and the Ivy
- I Saw Three Ships
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
- It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
- Jingle Bell Rock
- Jingle Bells
- Joy to the World
- Let It Snow
- Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
- O Christmas Tree
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel
- O Holy Night
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- Over the River and Through the Woods
- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town
- Silent Night
- Sing Noel
- Sleigh Ride
- The Wassail Song
- We’ll Dress the House
- We Three Kings of Orient Are
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas
- What Child is This
- White Christmas
- Winter Wonderland
We have recorded a five song demo CD. Listen to the MP3 sound clips below.
“Thank you so much for performing during our Luminations event. We had many, many compliments and appreciate you sharing your incredible gift of music with our visitors…”
Cathy, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Libby and Mady with Santa, Central Market 2003
Mady and Paul share a Christmas hug.
People often ask who designs our wonderful women’s Carolers hats! That would be Gerry Langlois, the chief floral designer at Central Market at 4001 N. Lamar. We love his work, and thank him for contributing to our great Victorian look.