Longing for Heaven

by Jeni & Billy

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Duet partners Jeni & Billy have brought impressive measures of inspiration, artistry, and austerity to this minimalist collection of old-time ballads, heartsongs, and spirituals. Hankins is the soulful wellspring of this collaboration. Born and raised in Virginia coal country, she brings a writer’s and singer’s finely nuanced ear to the cadences and imagery of her native Appalachia. – Bluegrass Unlimited, USA

    Comes in a four panel eco-friendly wallet, designed by Jeni, featuring family photos. A 20-page booklet includes all lyrics and credits.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Longing for Heaven via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 16 Jeni Hankins releases available on Bandcamp and save 20%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Last Time I Changed These Strings, We'll Meet That Day – Single, Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, Pretty Back Then (Movie Mix), Goodnight, Tazewell Beauty Queen (Movie Mix), Homecoming Queen, The Oxygen Girl, Heart of the Mountain, and 8 more. , and , .

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1.
With Fond Affection You gave back my true love letters And the picture I loved so well In the town we meet as strangers But I still can’t say farewell Once you loved with fond affection Once your thoughts were all of me Now you’ve gone to seek another And you care no more for me I still have the ring you gave me On a ribbon ‘round my throat And this ring is all that’s left me And false letters that you wrote Once you loved with fond affection Once your thoughts were all of me Now you’ve gone to seek another And you care no more for me © 2009 Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp, BMI Based on the traditional song “Fond Affection”
2.
Single Girl 02:01
Single Girl Single girl, single girl She’s going dressed so fine O, she’s going dressed so fine Married girl, married girl, She wears just any kind O, she wears just any kind Single girl, single girl She’s going where she please O, she’s going where she please Married girl, married girl, Got a baby on her knees O, got a baby on her knees Single girl, single girl She goes the store and buys O, She goes the store and buys Married girl, married girl, She rocks the cradle & cries O, she rocks the cradle & cries Traditional, © 2010 arranged by Jeni & Billy
3.
Longing for Heaven Based on Sacred Harp #384 “Panting for Heaven” O, when will the period appear When I shall unite in your song I’m weary of lingering here and I to your savior belong I’m fettered and chained up in clay I struggle and pant to be free I long to be soaring away My God and my Savior to see Tune by S.M. Brown, 1869 Words by Maria DeFleury, 1791 © 2010 Arranged by Jeni & Billy
4.
I Saw a Man at the Close of Day I saw a man at the close of day, standing by a grocery store. His lips were parched, his eyes were sunk, and I knew him o’er & o’er. A little boy stood by his side, and unto him he said, “Father, mother’s sick at home, and sister cries for bread.” He turned around, walked from that store, staggered on into some bar and unto the bartend said, “O, pour me one glass more.” In about a year I passed thereby; a crowd gathered round that door, I asked the reason, one replied, “The drunkard is no more.” Just then a hearse rolled slowly by, no wife or children in view. They’d gone and left this flowered earth and bid fond friends adieu. Come all ye jolly dram drinkers, from this a lesson take, and whisky overthrow my friends, before it is too late. Traditional, © 2010 arranged and with additional lyrics by Jeni & Billy
5.
The Ballad of Sally Kincaid for Lee Smith She was born up near Grundy in a coal mining camp. She went to church one Sunday and came home a tramp. It was an itinerant preacher man who spoiled her, they say, with a gun and a Bible he bought on Good Friday. He prayed with them on Easter, but all his prayers were lies. And he stole their small offering and Sally for his bride. Some say she went willingly and helped him with his crimes. Some say she had a baby that took sick and died. But the law found that preacher man in Bristol, Tennessee — dead in a hotel room — strangled with a sheet. With no evidence to hold her, they had to let her go, and all she could think of was her old mountain home. She showed up one Sunday at the back of the church with the stolen offering, asking for work. But hearts were hardened and eyes like glass, and no one would take her in on account of her past. She’d been places and seen things that no one could trust. She was the child of the Devil, now, wild and cursed. They called her a floozy and they called her a tramp, but when she danced on the bar, she was like a lamp that shone too brightly, like the queen of that town. And with all the lust inside them, men laid their money down. But beauty is not lasting, and flowers, sure to fade. And the light crept slowly from Sally Kincaid. She washed the ladies’ dresses and she used her needle, too. She did most anything that they would have her do. O, where has old Sally gone? O, don’t you understand? She’s lying in this pine box with no offering in her hand. She’s gone to her savior alone and penniless, She’s buried up near Grundy on that mountain she loved best. You’ll find her up near Grundy on that mountain she loved best. © 2003 Jeni Hankins, BMI, & 2006 Billy Kemp, BMI
6.
Cecil Roberts' Hand for UMWA President Cecil Roberts Send us the fire in Cecil Roberts’ hand Send us the fire in his hand Send us the fire in Cecil Roberts’ hand And a holy union we will stand Like the rock of ages Send us the dream of Martin Luther King Send us the dream of Dr. King Send us the dream of Martin Luther King And a holy union we will sing Like the rock of ages Send us the peace of Jesus, King of Kings Send us the peace of The King Send us the peace of Jesus, King of Kings And a holy union we will bring Like the rock of ages Send us the flowers in Cecil Roberts’ Hand Send us the flowers in his hand Send us the flowers in Cecil Roberts’ Hand For the miner who has left this land Whose name is on the pages Where no storm rages O, the rock of ages © 2009 Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp, BMI
7.
While I Stay at Home and Weep All I wanted was to kiss you to hold you close and call you mine All my dreams, well, they died with you When you left our home behind Somewhere across the bitter ocean, over mountains black and steep You’re a-wandering and a-roaming, while I stay at home and weep You promised that you’d always love me You held me close as I wished Little did I know that morning I’d received your parting kiss Somewhere across the bitter ocean, over mountains black and steep You’re a-wandering and a-roaming, while I stay at home and weep Prayhaps I’ll take to roaming, I’ll seek you in a foreign land And if you find me not at home, Prayhaps you’ll understand Somewhere across the bitter ocean, over mountains black and steep You’re a-wandering and a-roaming, while I stay at home and weep © 2006 Jeni Hankins, BMI
8.
Father Will You Meet Me in Heaven for Jack Cash, Johnny’s brother Father will you meet me in Heaven? For me the die has been cast. Tell me you’ll meet me, O father, and walk with Jesus at last. A blade is a terrible master. For brother it meant his life. As he stretched across the table, he did not mind the knife. For brother death was a-calling. I thought he’d breathed his last, but as our father wept o’er him, I heard my brother ask . . . Father will you meet me in Heaven? For me the die has been cast. Tell me you’ll meet me, O father, and walk with Jesus at last. Pride is a terrible master and father was often it’s slave. He had no love for Jesus and said he’d ne’er be saved. But he knelt as brother lay dying and he felt as ne’er before. He heard the words of dear brother and gave his heart to the Lord. Father will you meet me in Heaven? For me the die has been cast. Tell me you’ll meet me, O father, and walk with Jesus at last. © 2008 Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp, BMI
9.
On a Hill Long and Grey On a hill lone and grey in a land far away in a country beyond the blue sea Where beneath that far sky Went a man forth to die for the world and for you and for me O, it bows down my heart and the teardrops do start When in memory that grey hill I see It was there on its side Jesus suffered, yes he died to redeem a poor sinner like me Hark I hear the dull blow of a hammer swung low They are nailing my Lord to the tree On that cross he upraised while the multitudes gazed He ascended that hill lone and grey O, it bows down my heart and the teardrops do start When in memory that grey hill I see It was there on its side Jesus suffered, yes he died to redeem a poor sinner like me Shout aloud, then, my soul Let the glad tidings roll From the land to the edge of the sea Where beneath that far sky went a man forth to die For the world and for you and for me. For the world and for you and for me. Traditional, © 2010 arranged by Jeni & Billy
10.
If I Ever Get Ten Dollars for Jim Lauderdale, with thanks. If I ever get ten dollars gonna buy me a three piece suit and gonna buy you a diamond ring gonna marry you If I ever get ten dollars gonna find us a piece of land and build a house with a picket fence with my own two hands If I ever get ten dollars gonna quit this railway car and hang up my walkin’ shoes and stay right where you are If I ever get ten dollars gonna buy me a three piece suit and gonna buy you a diamond ring gonna marry you ©2008 Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp, BMI

about

Heaven has always set me to wondering. It puts me in mind of a family reunion. I wasn’t always anxious to go to our family reunions, on account of all of the strangers I was bound to meet there and the scratchy clothes I was doomed to wear for every family event. I feel the same sort of reluctance to visit Heaven, since it would — barring unusual circumstances — mean the end of my time here on Earth. But like our family reunion, Heaven, I imagine, will be full of people I love. That’s how my Mawmaw, Narcie Smith, described Heaven to me. Not only are there walls of jasper and streets of gold, as they promise in the old hymns, but everyone you ever loved will be waiting for you there. I would like to hear Grandaddy Hankins sing “Eng-a-land swings like a pendulum do” again and the laugh of my friend Zac who died just after college. And I’d liked to hear Gram Gilbert play the Gibson guitar that his family gave to Billy and me, which is so much a part of the sound of this record.

When I was little I thought about Heaven a lot. My Dad was at the Harvard Divinity School and my curiosity about what that meant lead to many explanations from him that persuaded me that Heaven was something worth thinking on during the lulls between arguing with my sister and doing Barbie hair. I felt a little like Winnie the Pooh when he sat down on his tree stump and said “think, think, think.”

The thing that most troubled me was that a kid in my third grade class didn’t come to school one day and the teacher said that he had died. Mom explained to me that he had cystic fibrosis. I couldn’t understand what God could want with him up in Heaven when it seemed like so many people were missing him on Earth. After a few weeks of thinking about it, I decided that God brought people of all ages up to Heaven, because Heaven was so much more interesting and better with people of all ages. The choir was better. Games were better. The moms who missed their own children could look after the kids in Heaven and the kid who missed his sister had a sister in Heaven. This gave me some comfort — especially since I was prone to thinking I was the next kid going to Heaven.

Maybe it’s from growing up half the time in a pentecostal church that makes me still surprised to be here. The hymns I learned at the Friendly Chapel Church painted the day of rapture as imminent. I thought I’d better get ready. In college, I got notions from reading Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” and never letting go of Clarissa’s thought that it is dangerous to live even one day.

But I think my expectation of suddenly being taken up to Heaven comes most of all from idolizing my Mawmaw Margie, with her plastic fruits, plastic floor runners, plastic Christmas tree, plastic wrap on picture frames, her big wide smile, polyester pants, and Fruity Pebbles in the kitchen cabinet. One February she was gone with pneumonia, and I didn’t get to say goodbye. Most of us won’t get to say goodbye. It just doesn’t seem to work that way. But Mawmaw Smith said that was alright because, for her, Heaven was like a great big Hello.

— Jeni Hankins, January 2010

credits

released January 1, 2010

Jeni Hankins: Guitar, banjo, mandolin, vocals
Billy Kemp: Guitar, banjo, harmonica, bass, vocals
Shad Cobb: Fiddle, harmony vocals on Father Will You Meet Me in Heaven

All songs written by Jeni & Billy, except 7, written by Jeni, and 2, 3, 4, & 9, traditional arranged and with additional lyrics by Jeni & Billy. All songs © Jeni Hankins, Lulu Wall Music, BMI, and Billy Kemp, Franklin Morris Music, BMI.

Produced by Jeni & Billy

Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, & 9 recorded by Billy & Jeni at The Cabin, Wilkes County, North Carolina.

Tracks 5, 6, 8, & 10 recorded by Jim Robeson at Bias Studios, Springfield, Virginia.

Additional recording on tracks 4, 5, 8, 9, & 10 by Billy and Jeni at Big Grey, Nashville, Tennessee.

Mixed by Billy Kemp at Big Grey.
Mastered by Jim DeMain at Yes Master, Nashville, Tennessee.

Photos of Jeni & Billy by Kim Sherman.Original artwork by Jeni Hankins.
Graphic design by Jeni & Greg Hankins.

Multimedia coding and authoring by Steve Wilkison at Digital Vision Media.

The 1957 Gibson J-50 guitar used on this record was generously given to Jeni & Billy by Paul and Beth Gilbert in memory of their son Gram Gilbert who is playing in that angel band. Gram’s long stays at the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital were made much more bearable by the magical gift of music. Please consider donating time or resources to the Music Therapy Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, 2200 Children’s Way, Nashville, TN 37232.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this record will go to Grassroots Leadership founded by songwriter and activist Si Kahn. To learn more visit www.grassrootsleadership.org

Jeni & Billy thank Si Kahn and John McCutcheon for their encouragement and solidarity; Jim Lauderdale for sharing his Sacred Harp with us; Kim Sherman for friendship and a great eye; Darcy Cotten for friendship and spunk; Shad Cobb for his fine fiddling and bluegrass harmony; Josh Dunson at Real People’s Music for keeping us on the road; & Kelly Foley at adastra for keeping us on the motorway.

Thanks also to Hungrytown, Matt, Erica, Anna & Eli Hinton, John Copenhaver, Steve Wilkison, Mary Beth Reed, Jens & Uwe Kruger, Joel Landsberg, Kari Estrin, Ken Irwin and Donna Wilson Irwin, Jeff Brown, Andrew & Jim at Cotten Music, Andrea Beaudet, Bil VornDick, Art Menius, John Carter Cash, Lee Smith, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and to all the vegan restaurants and food co-ops that saved us on the road!

In the UK, thanks to Chris & Sue, Harvey & Thelma, Peter, Kelly, Laura, Chris, Martin, Barbara, Hedley, Alan, Gill & John, Dave, Bill, Robert & Sylvia, Richard, Hazel, Nigel, Fiona, and all of the folks who make England & Wales our home away from home.

To the DJs too: Mike, Frank, Wayne, Michael, Aer, Wanda, Pam, Phil, Naomi, Rich, Richard, Lauryn, Cathy, Robyne, Charlie, Niall, Ralph, and all of the DJs who have shared our music with their listeners.
Special thanks to President Cecil Roberts of the United Mine Workers of America. Jeni & Billy are proud members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 1000.

Thanks to the fine folks at MODA, who made the fabrics used in this booklet and in the enhanced portion of our CD.

Always thanks to the Hankins & Kemp families especially Greg and Marcy Hankins whose work and support shows throughout this project! And to everyone up on Smith Ridge and Jewell Ridge.

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Jeni Hankins London, UK

Jeni Hankins grew up in the coalfields of Appalachian in Southwest Virginia among a family of miners, moonshiners, and journalists. Her writing pulls the grit, gumption, and keen sense of observation out of that heritage like drawing water from her grandmother’s well.

In every song, Jeni’s “true sense of place shines through – old as the hills, but brand new at the same time.”
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