Chimneyside Chats with Jillian Shea Spaeder

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Gather 'round the open fire for Chimneyside Chats - a monthly feature with holiday stories from our favorite artists. See what's in their stockings this year as they reminisce on Christmas memories, share their favorite recipe and more! Here's what actor, singer and songwriter Jillian Shea Spaeder had to say:

As both an actor and singer/songwriter, I always love the opportunity to audition for a role where the character sings or plays an instrument (especially if that instrument is guitar!). For auditions like these, some casting directors may ask actors to come prepared with a short song to sing or play. Sometimes, they even ask us to prepare a specific song.

I had my first audition for the role of Jane in Godmothered in November 2019. I was excited when I saw this line in the character description: “must have strong singing ability, guitar skills are a plus.” This sounded like the perfect role for me! Then I read that I would have to prepare either the first verse of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” or “Let It Snow” (about 30 seconds of singing) for the audition, and now I had a dilemma. Though the casting director didn’t ask for those auditioning to showcase their guitar skills, I always try to do that if the role calls for it. But classic holiday songs don’t usually scream “guitar moment!”, so I had a choice: I could go in there and perform one of these traditional songs a capella (and forget about playing guitar)—or I could take one of them and make it my own.

I decided “Let It Snow” might work better with guitar, so I figured out some chords and came up with an arrangement. I played it a few times for my family, and they all thought it was a cool version of the song. When it came time for the audition, I was the only person in the waiting room holding a guitar. Other girls went in before me and all belted out a cappella versions of the songs. I started having second thoughts about performing my song in an understated singer/songwriter vibe with a guitar! After debating it with my mom, we decided I should just “do my thing” and hope they liked it. They did; I got a callback the following week, and I ended up booking the role a few weeks later.

Right after that first audition, my family encouraged me to release my version of “Let It Snow”. With my dad’s help, I laid down the vocals and guitar track using our home recording equipment. An awesome piano player, my dad added a light piano track to accompany my guitar. Once my dad had everything mixed, I released it for a few weeks around the holiday season. With more time this year, we decided to lay down new tracks and re-release the song. “Let It Snow” was released November 11 on all digital platforms, and I hope my version of this holiday classic will be a wonderful addition to everyone’s playlists!

Learn more about Jillian Shea Spaeder and listen to her song "Let It Snow" on our Chimneyside Chats playlist!