Utah Family Turns To Music During Difficult Times
FRUIT HEIGHTS, Utah — In good times and bad, even during a pandemic, music has been a constant in the LeBaron family.
“The kids could not let it go. They could not let it stop during this pandemic,” said Denisse LeBaron. “They said we’ve just got to find some way to do this.”
Denisse and Gerald LeBaron’s first child, Holli, had a big smile, perfect pitch, and a love of singing. When she was little, Holli hummed while she ate.
Holli’s brothers and sisters followed her lead, and eventually, the LeBarons ended up not with just a family of six, but a vocal ensemble.
Family time was spent around the piano.
Just a few days before she was to graduate from high school, Holli suddenly fell ill because of a cyst in her brain. She died on graduation day.
“When she passed away, it kind of shook our… identity as far as music goes,” said Jordon, Denisse’s son.
Denisse LeBaron stopped singing, and couldn’t picture her children singing together, either.
“It was hard to imagine them as a group anymore. Luckily, that didn’t stop them,” she said.
“One thing that we learned is that music actually was a powerful agent to keep us bonded through that hard time,” said Jordon. “Music and singing especially has really helped us kind of unite, bond, and feel those deep feelings together. We know that even though we lost one of our members, we’re still bonded as a group.”
In the voices of the five children, Denisse LeBaron heard her daughter, Holli.
“I would hear her voice come through theirs. It took time. It was a soothing thing for me,” she said.
As the years passed, the ensemble grew. Their daughter, Heidi, moved out of the country, but three of the four LeBaron brothers married talented singers.
Gerald and Denisse LeBaron insist musical ability was not a prerequisite to marry into the family.
Two years ago, a living room rendition of “One Day More” from the musical Les Misérables — a mother’s day request — went viral and put the LeBaron family center stage. There were calls from reporters and invitations for public appearances.
“That (video) exposed exactly what we do every weekend in our house,” Denisse said. “We took that for granted that’s been our life. We took that for granted they were really good.”
And then came the pandemic.
At first, the LeBarons socially distanced from each other, performing virtually on video.
“We had to just get really, really creative about how to still make content without being together,” said singer Kaitlyn LeBaron.
The three couples started performing what they called “car-ncerts” where they stand beside their cars and serenade neighborhoods.
A few weeks ago, the LeBarons, including the youngest brother Landon, performed in their parents’ front yard. The singers kept their distance from the audience, sitting in lawn chairs in the cul-de-sac outside the home.
“It fills an emotional need,” Jordon said. “It brings us together in ways that we just can’t really explain.”
“It’s how we express ourselves when we’re happy or when we’re going through heartache,” Karina LeBaron said.
Denisse and Gerald LeBaron said Holli would be pleased with what the LeBaron singers have become.
“She would have been so proud,” said Denisse.
“She’d have a smile a mile wide,” said Gerald.
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