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?I picked ?Children Go Where I Send Thee? because it?s about my favorite Christmas Carol. It?s an African American spiritual. I believe I was singing it at the First Presbyterian Church on the South Side of Chicago with the old music director there named James Mack. He was a black guy and our choir director. My dad was the minister. This was when I was growing up. I love songs that have real soul to them, and I love songs that go on and on in kind of a hypnotic way. I like songs that are meant to be learned and sung by many people.

Mr. Mack was a very large man, and the church was a big, musty church on the South Side. And he had his little choir room and I just have this recollection of going into that room and being taken over by his presence. I always wanted to be a little bit like him. I wanted to wear dude shoes and dude clothes; he was a real dude back then. He was a big dude and he sang with a big voice. He has since died, and I never saw him again after we left Chicago, which was in about 1969 when I was 6 years old, but he plays a big role in the mythology of my life. I?m pretty sure that?s where I first heard the song.

The other person who taught me that song was a legendary singer named John Langstaff from Boston. He was the baritone singer who created The Christmas Revels. The Revels are these musical celebrations that go on all around the country now. He sang traditional folks songs with a beautiful voice. In the last ten years I heard a recording of him singing ?Children Go Where I Send Thee.? He sang it a little differently, in perhaps more of a trained way. But I enjoy singing it, and I?ve been singing it to schoolchildren for the past few years in hopes that they?ll sing along. And they do.?