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(Photo from 2018 performance, L-R: Sharon Lewis, Brock Weaver, Merilee Rieta, Deven Halcomb, Rojohn Rieta and Lynda Pettersen)
Known for their moving and inspiring music, Merilee and Rojohn Rieta have assembled their talented friends, focusing on a journey through the eyes of Mary & Joseph. Tender, humbling, loving and beautiful describe this combination of music and narration to fill our hearts.
Ever since becoming parents 12 years ago, Merilee and Rojohn have felt a deeper love, admiration, and appreciation for Mary and Joseph. The majority of the music they will share during this Days of Christmas performance centers around Mary and Joseph, and the complexity of feelings and emotions they must have experienced during the pivotal time of their lives when the Son of God was entrusted to their care.
Merilee first had the opportunity to perform with Afton and Sharon Lewis in the Steve Harris Vocal Ensemble back in 2004. Performing in the Visitor’s Center with the SHVE for Days of Christmas was a true joy. Merilee, Rojohn, Afton, Sharon and Brock Weaver all ended up in the same ward for a bit before Merilee and Rojohn moved to Sacramento a few years ago. Merilee and Rojohn were delighted to discover what a wonderful guitar player Brock was when he accompanied them during a performance of an original song by one of their ward members, Kristine Cooper, at their Ward Christmas Party. That performance gave Merilee and Rojohn the courage to attempt their own Days of Christmas performance in the Visitor’s Center with Brock and Sharon accompanying them back in 2017. They were thrilled to have Afton Lewis and Rojohn’s talented brother, Teejay, join them for their “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” musical fireside and Days of Christmas performance in 2019. They all felt a definite void not being able to perform during 2020, so they are thrilled to have the opportunity to finally perform together again on their beloved Temple Hill stage.
Merilee Pettersen Rieta grew up right down the street from the Oakland Temple on Maiden Lane. She has fond memories of walking to performances of Temple Pageant and longing for the day when she could perform on that stage too. That dream was finally realized when she was cast as a dancer in the 1995 Temple Pageant. Little did she know that her future husband, Rojohn Rieta, was singing in the Balcony Chorus that same year! Merilee went on to major in Acting at BYU in Utah and Rojohn went to BYU-Hawaii on a Vocal Scholarship. They didn’t officially meet until after they had both graduated from college. One of their very first dates was attending their friend, Katie Jonutz’s Days of Christmas performance in the Temple Hill Auditorium. One year later, Merilee and Rojohn found themselves back in the Temple Hill auditorium, but this time they were both up onstage performing in Lex de Azevedo’s Gloria. Merilee was told that her smile shone brighter than the shiny new ring that Rojohn had placed on her finger earlier that day. Merilee and Rojohn have a very special place in their heart for the Temple Hill auditorium.
They have both had numerous testimony-building experiences on the Temple Hill stage. In addition to being a dancer in Temple Pageant, Merilee also had opportunities to sing in the Balcony Chorus, portray Emma Hale Smith and serve as Assistant Director, Artistic Director and on the organizing committee for the Temple Pageant 50th Anniversary Reunion. In addition to singing in the Balcony Chorus in Temple Pageant, Rojohn also enjoyed opportunities to portray John Taylor and Moroni. Merilee has enjoyed singing in the choir while Rojohn has played Gabriel in Gloria, The Man with Many Names in The Garden and Peter in Lamb of God. Merilee has also loved the opportunity to be one of the Narrators for multiple performances of Lamb of God.
Brock Weaver's greatest joy is his beautiful wife, Kate, and four lovely daughters. He currently serves as the bishop of his ward and keeps food on the table working as a digital project manager. When he's not in front of a computer, he likes to spend his free time playing and arranging music. He's been playing the guitar since age 12. Brock has been performing with the Rietas for Days of Christmas since 2017 and is thrilled to finally be able to perform LIVE with them again! Brock would like to express his appreciation for the Rietas, his family, all those at Temple Hill, and most importantly Jesus Christ whose birth we remember at this wonderful time of year.
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