Simple Gifts — reviews & quotes

Like a gentle spring rain after a long, hard winter, comes a sweet and unexpected surprise. Simple Gifts is a timely treasure of favorite hymns lovingly offered by master singer-songwriter, guitarist Billy Crockett and seasoned cellist Dirje Childs.

These two well-respected musicians recently met and started recording for “the sheer joy of recording music” for Billy’s mother, who had been isolated during the pandemic. The end result is Simple Gifts, for all to enjoy. 

Whether you believe in a higher power or God or the simple fact that there is so much good that we have—if we only open our minds and hearts—you will find inspiration from this recording. Clear as a mountain stream, gentle and sweet, pure and nostalgic, this album delivers songs of comfort, hope and healing. It’s a fresh reminder of the gifts of each new day—the universe continues to give, God is good, and we are loved. 

Like heirlooms re-discovered in a grandparents’ attic, and dusted off, these old favorites shine like gold. Timeless standards re-imagined, including classics like “We Gather Together,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” and “Be Still My Soul”—offer calm and resolute strength for these times of chaos and confusion. It’s a respite from the noise. 

The album’s highlight is “Simple Gifts,” a traditional Shaker song that Crockett makes his own, delivering each note with grace and elegance. Childs’ cello enters and fills the empty heart with soulful reverence. The interplay is breathtaking, stunning—healing. 

Maybe you will be reminded of your childhood, or maybe you will remember a simpler time when black and white movies moved at a slower pace. Either way, thank you—Billy and Dirje, for responding to the desperate cry of the soul, while reminding us of a fountain of hope that is here, now—if we only choose to open our eyes. 

With guitar, cello and voice, the album title says it all in just two words. Simple. Gifts. 

— M Music & Musicians magazine 

Music to Nourish your Soul 

THE SUNNY OPTIMIST,  Ann Roberts — Apr 8, 2022


This week, my dear friend and our Sunny Optimist buddy sent me a link to her latest musical offering called Simple Gifts. Dirje is an amazing improvisational musician, composer, licensed professional counsellor, and certified music practitioner. I wrote a piece about her back in February 2021 called The Grateful Cellist. There is a gentleness to her music that opens the heart and brings us beautifully into the present moment. Together with her musical collaborator Billy Crockett of Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio, they have crafted a most delightful and nourishing collection of spiritual songs. Billy's voice and guitar playing are exquisite and marry so powerfully with Dirje's evocative style. I just love the selection of songs and appreciate the dedication, skillfulness and sincerity that abounds in their collaboration.  READ MORE




Dirje Childs is a freelance improvisational cellist and a Certified Music Practitioner, with a background as a professional counselor and trainer. Her passion is celebrating life and creating original cello music in-the-moment, whether bedside, in hospitals or nursing homes.  For 25-plus years Dirje has enhanced the work of musicians in the studio and on the road.  She is currently an MFA Candidate in Music Composition at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

More from Dirje:  www.thegratefulcellist.com