ahpadminDecember 24th, 2012FeaturedNo Comments

“Nothing That I Walk Through” EP featuring 4 soul-filled

songs is officially releasing February 15th.  Stay tuned…..

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The Antler and The Piano

melJuly 11th, 2011NewsNo Comments

THE ANTLER & THE PIANO, by Amber Halland

(The names of the venues have been omitted to save face for the piano owners:)

There is something to be said about the greatness of showing up somewhere to sing and not lugging in a keyboard (let alone a keyboard in an extremely large case I mistakenly bought 2 sizes too big which resembles more of a coffin than a case – I mean nothing is breakin’ through that sucker).  So, when I have the option to just jump on any available piano I usually take it.  This approach has worked fine in some cases – like in Chicago when my friends and I found our way to an open mic contest, passed a hat aruond, and made $40 bucks for the cab ride back,  or when we bribed the hotel manager to let us entertain the hotel guests (or ourselves actually) on their perfectly in tune, grand in the lobby.

But it seems that for planned venues, this “fly by the seat of my pants” approach may save my back and allow for a cuter pair of shoes during load in, it doesn’t always go so well as it did in Chicago.  But it does help grow my repertoire of hilarious moments.  These moments cause me to think “maybe this wasn’t a good idea” – while I’m burning red in the face trying to get through another chorus of “Find Me Beautiful” thinking that I’m not sure this piano had ever been tuned.  Sitting in an old chair that resembled the vinyl seats from a 60′s diner, I stared into the hood less upright fearful that something may jump out at me.  Something furry, and maybe even with fangs.  At another event, I was pretty sure I would get lead poisoning or at least a severe sliver from the crusted keys.  And while I try to put my back into it and really give the crowd what they want while belting out “Secrets”, I hold back a bit wondering  – “did I get my tetanus shot?”  Ashley says I’m a hypochondriac, and Mike says I really should not be afraid of animals with fangs.  But, hey these things really happen!

But, this blog post was inspired by my most recent and favorite piano of all.  It wasn’t scary, and it was even in tune!  However, it did cause a problem when Ashley and I tried desperately to keep a straight face and  failed miserably  when we burst out laughing while I played an old upright with the lid held high by the only sturdy thing we could find laying around – an antler.  Why not?  I may have been a vegetarian at one time, but I have never had anything against the usefulness of antlers!

While these strange piano sightings may spice up our lives and our blogs, I just have to admit that maybe not wanting to load in my keyboard is not wise and, well,  just plain lazy.  God deserves more, I decided.  And from now on I will do my best to show up prepared, keyboard in hand, ready and able to give it my all.

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Ashley and the Evergreen

melFebruary 17th, 2011News3 Comments
Ashley and the Evergreen

It was a mid-February, below zero morning, and I had just settled down to a steaming cup of Folgers (only the best) and a much larger than the allotted serving size of vanilla creamer which was OK considering it was fat free of course. I had had the new CD, Secrets, in my hand only a mere 24 hours and I was about to share my new baby and labor of love with my parents for the first time. Mike at my side, giving me a proud, loving smile, pushed play on the remote while my parents quickly straightened their reading glasses and eagerly opened up the CD inserts to read along. The music started, I nervously looked around the room hoping they’d like it, and – “The Entertainer” ringtone began to blare from my mom’s phone, not quite the moment for Joplin Rag. I saw it was my sister, Ashley, calling so I answered quietly just to quickly ask her to join us.
“Um,” she said either laughing or crying I wasn’t sure, “I ran over a Christmas tree.” OK – what?! I sneak out of the room trying to not interrupt the rocking guitars singing on “Trying to Love”. Ashley was still talking, “and then this Russian lady in a fur coat almost backed into me, and I swerved and ran over a Christmas Tree!” Ok, well, just pull it out from under the car and get over here. I hung up, told everyone everything is fine and that Ashley just ran over a Christmas tree (that’s normal, right?). I suggested we listen to an acoustic track, “I See You” next. Everyone settles back into their lyrics and – “The Entertainer”. Ashley was a bit more frantic this time as I laughed “hello” she responded “This is not funny. This is really happening!! I ran over a Christmas tree. The entire tree is under my car. It won’t come out. I’m driving down 62 and it smells like burnt evergreen!” OK, I push pause, spread the news about the growing concern of burnt evergreen and the fact that Ashley is flying down the highway with an entire tree attached to her vehicle. The team rallies in a fury – Mike grabs a hammer, I put all the coffee cups in the sink, Mom finds Dad’s gloves, Dad grabs his passport (?) and we all crawl into the 4 wheel drive – maybe we can pull this sucker out.
We’re driving down the road feeling a bit heroic and certainly united. I’m getting a little more excited than appropriate for the opportunity to capture video footage for our Facebook page and then – “The Entertainer”. Now Ashley’s just laughing hysterically and shouting, “I smell like an Evergreen!” Apparantly, she was able to drive FIVE miles with an ENTIRE Christmas tree under her car, but once she reached the GE parking lot, wiggled the trunk free while wearing dress pants, metallic kitten heels, and her “Shirley temple coat” she was able to drive away leaving an entire Christmas tree in the parking lot of GE corporate – sorry GE! Our rescue team turned around, a bit sad that we didn’t get a chance to free Ashley from the tree or really just sad I missed my video opp. We drove back to mom and dad’s, walked in to find Ashley laughing to herself along with the most overwhelming scent of Christmas tree I had ever smelled – quite nice actually.

So, before you think – Wow maybe you shouldn’t have written about your sister like that. I will say Ashley promotes all telling of this story and even supplied a picture for you to enjoy. And sadly I’m not innocent of these “did that really happen?” moment. I have been Ashley’s partner in crime before. In fact it was me that drove her and I two hours west of Minneapolis and ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere on I-94 while Ashley was sleeping. And then it was me who suggested we sing along to the Bon Jovi CD at the top of our lungs while waiting for AAA to help us, which eventually ran the battery dead, which meant we couldn’t roll up the windows or close the sunroof when it started raining. Besides that, Ashley did a good thing here. She avoided injuring the Russian lady in pink lipstick wearing a fur coat, took care of the tree removal for her neighbor, scented her car and clothes like Tommy Boy rubbed air freshener on his coat, and she brought a little piece of Christmas to the corporate workers of GE – well done Ashley!

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melFebruary 6th, 2011FeaturedNo Comments
Secrets is OUT people!!!!

Order your copy of “Secrets” in our website “SHOP” using Pay Pal, or online with your credit card at CD BABY.

A fresh sound combining the pure acoustic songs and the driving progressing sounds of the full band. Producers Lucas Shogren and Derek Powers bring a refreshing edge to the telling songs of Amber and Ashley Halland. This album is a true journey of highs and lows with one track highlighting live cello and violin singing back and forth and the next track pushing the strings of electric guitar and a driving beat to make your heart race a bit.

It’s the story, the surrender, the answer to every song recorded by Amber Halland prior to this era. You’ll hear the same enticing lyrics and the distinctively ” Halland” vocals with a modern edge thanks to the new band members and a whole new meaning thanks to a shift in Halland’s paradigm.

Hear It Now:

“Find Me Beautiful” (you can get this song for FREE when you “like” us on Facebook!)

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“Secrets” Our Title Track

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What Not to Wear – What Not to Play

melFebruary 4th, 2011NewsNo Comments

Many a late night I’ve gotten roped into the hour, which is usually followed by another hour, of one of my favorite shows “What Not To Wear”. While most days my sister, Ashley, reminds me I could be a candidate for the show (ah sisters), I’d like to think I have some fashion sense. I mean just because my favorite shirt is Mike’s old, worn yellow t-shirt with a Chicago style hot dog on it that says “A Chicago Love Affair” doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to pull together a killer outfit when necessary.

So, I was thinking – musicians seem to collect instruments like fashionistas collect shoes. Is there a rhyme (no pun intended) or reason to choosing these instruments? Most of the time, yes. Sometimes, we just see a cool instrument and think – I don’t have one of those! Or – it’s on sale, hmmm I could learn how to play this! I might someday need this! Sound familiar?

My newest addition to the instrument collection is an electric bass given to me by our dear friends the Grunditz. I’ve wanted to learn to play the bass because 1)it seems easier than the guitar – I mean one note at a time? I could do that! and 2) bass players just seem super cool.  And seriously, why is it that most of them seem to wear black and have a brooding personality? So having a bass would expand my musical wardrobe by complimenting my mood on those days I wake up and think, uh I’ll just wear black today.  and 3) a tall girl (almost 6 feet) needs a tall instrument to compliment her look right? An instrument is like any accessory – I’m sure Stacy and Clinton would agree that petite girls should have petite accessories and bigger (I’m sure they used a better word here) girls should have bigger accessories. So, looking back when I thought it would be cool for one week in the 7th grade to play the piccolo while I was the tallest girl in the class – maybe that wasn’t the best fit for me! Now, Stephanie (Clocks & Clouds – Check them out!) is so darn cute and little and she can sure rock that violin – another great example of an instrument just looking good on someone.

But then tonight, when I dug past my old & worn tambourine, past the dusty cabasa, and under the egg shaker I pulled out the guitar tuner and drug out my guitar to try -once again- to attack this instrument I’d really love to play well someday. I played the same 5 chords I’ve played for what feels like my whole life. I thought that this instrument sure looks sweet, but I’m just not comfortable in it. Like those dang grey heals with pointy toes that I wore downtown Denver one night until a friend had to carry my on his back because of my blisters, ouch. I unconsciously crept back towards the piano, set the guitar on the floor and settled into my old worn out t-shirt of an instrument. The keys felt the soft. The sound so soothing….ahhh. Now I could make some music here.

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Behind the Paradigm Shift

ahpadminDecember 26th, 2010Featured, The story behind the paradigm shift2 Comments
Amber Halland

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry. (psalm 40:1)

Growing up I had it all.  Friends, family, anything a teenage girl could want.  In college, I had more still.  Freedom to do whatever pleased me.  Funny that someone who had everything could feel so aimless.  I strived for goals, would reach them and not feel satisfied.  I threw myself in the face of others to make them like me, acquire love but still feel worthless.  I searched in dark places to find truth, philosophies, answers, and end up more confused.  There was something groaning within me – an aching I couldn’t put my finger on.  And when I found myself moving to another new city, away from all that I knew and loved, I found myself truly alone for the first time.  And then I began to see it.

Within days of living in a new place, a co-worker befriended me and told me she wanted to be a missionary.  Confused at what that meant and intrigued that maybe this girl knows the answers I’ve been searching for, I asked many questions and wound up being invited to her church, The Rock in Minneapolis.  Too embarrassed to tell any of my old friends that I was going to church on a Saturday night, I quietly visited the Rock for the first time and heard something that changed my life forever.  I heard that we are all creations of God, but not all children of God.  I knew it.  It was like a light was shined directly on me, because I just knew.  I knew how I was living my life and just knew I wasn’t a child of God.  Then the pastor told this story about the depth of God’s love for each of us.  He compared it to the love a dad has for his daughter.  He described in tears how deeply and instantly he loved his daughter the moment he first held her in his arms. Then he told us that God loves us more.  More!  I sat there with tears running down my face.  YES!  This is it!  That is what I want!  I went home that night and prayed to a God I didn’t know yet.  I prayed “God if you are real, if you are there.  Please do not give up on me!  Please show me.”  He heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along. (psalm 40:2)

And so it began, a “spiritual journey” I called it.  I took out the Bible that I still had from my childhood Sunday school, I joined a Small Group at the Rock, and read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis which was recommended by a friend I trusted to know about these spiritual things I wanted to learn.  That groaning in me just couldn’t get enough of this.  I prayed, I asked questions to God, I sought him fully.  My heart changed.  It was like a veil was slowly being lifted from my eyes to see and understand.  Almost one year later, at a church retreat, I knew I had exhausted all my questions.  I had seen the real God act in my life.  We sang the words “I will not be silent”, and I stood there singing as loud as I possibly could telling God that I loved him, I believed in him and his resurrection, and I was not going to be silent about this anymore!  That night I was baptized to show the world that I had given everything fully over to Jesus Christ and I was now a child of God.

He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God. (psalm 40:3a)

Although my heart and understanding changed instantly, my life did not.  God has been so patient with me and truly is steadying me as I walk through life.  Little by little I surrendered parts of my selfishness and pride to the Lord and let him work in me.  Through this process God gave me the songs for the “Secrets” album.  It’s a true story.  A story of surrender.  And a story of the great life changer that is Christ.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord. (psalm 40:3b)

This is my deepest prayer.  This is why we have worked countless hours to get these songs out to the world.  Because, there is something greater here  than just some songs on a CD.  There is something truly amazing about a changed life.  I hope that these songs will encourage you wherever you are in your relationship with Jesus, and that through His story of what He has done there will be a greater understanding and growing trust.

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Derek Powers- Percussion

melNovember 14th, 2010FeaturedNo Comments
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Halland Sisters

melNovember 14th, 2010FeaturedNo Comments
Amber and Ashley Halland

Sisters, Amber Halland and Ashley Halland’s look and new sound may shout urban, but they grew up in no place other than Fargo, ND. Both Amber and Ashley found their love of performing at an early age, playing the piano, singing, writing music, recording, and performing with their own country rock band throughout their school years. After school they each followed their music to separate venues, Amber Halland studied alongside Nashville writers like Dennis Morgan and expanded her sound at Nashville’s infamous music and music business college, Belmont University. The sisters still spent their summers together touring and recording throughout the Midwest playing on the same bill as Tim McGraw and Kenny Wayne Shephard. As their sound progressed, Amber Halland found she needed more to write about. And more is what she got. She began to prepare for her next recording project writing fervently about lost love, anger, disappointment, and finally, real love.

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Lucas Shogren, Cello

melNovember 14th, 2010FeaturedNo Comments
Lucas Shogren on Cello

Lucas Shogren, playing Cello at the “2010 Superblock” party at the University of MN. Lucas adds a deep and unforgettable sound to Amber Halland’s Paradigm.

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“Halland Vocals”

melNovember 14th, 2010FeaturedNo Comments
Ashley Halland

Amber’s Sister- Ashley Halland, “sings BGV’s.  Blending only like blood can.”

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