The season of giving is all but upon us and the beautiful voice of Michelle Wright is here to remind us that Christmas is a time to rejoice, a time to reflect and a time to spread good will.
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Like a collection of perfectly placed ornaments on a Christmas tree, Michelle has put her personalized touch on a selection of Yuletide favorites that celebrate both the spiritual wonders and longstanding seasonal traditions that unite us during our favorite time of the year.
Inspired in part by the terrific response to a succession of end of the year tours that found one of Canada's most popular and celebrated recording artists wrapping her hits and Christmas faves into one show, Wright's decision to fill the recording studio with Christmas spirit and cheer is one that will bring smiles to fans for many Christmases to come.
Titled A Wright Christmas, it's a complete package, the perfect gift of song that may also be considered a pivotal artistic turn in a career that has now spanned more than two decades.
"We went out on the first Christmas tour in 2003 and it was an experiment of sorts," recalls Wright, who found out quickly that is was going to be a very successful experiment.
Wright expanded the tour the following years, but she found herself fielding a question from her fans at every turn, that being �where's the Christmas album'?
Well, here it is and it's a collection that includes stunning interpretations of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Joy To The World, Mel Torme's classic Christmas Song, and Irving Berlin's timeless White Christmas.
"This was such an easy album to make, but one filled with so many goosebump moments," says the singer who went into the studio with Tony Haselden, the writer of one of Wright's major hits, Take It Like A Man. Haselden and his associate, Russ Zavitson, share the producers' credits on A Wright Christmas.
"Plus there was no pressure to produce a hit," laughs the vocalist who was working with songs that have long been standards, although she's unquestionably put her own spin and emotional stamp on them.
"Initially my main concern was about how we would get into the spirit of the season in the studio in July. But as soon as I would start singing a song like Silent Night, the memories of being a kid and singing in a school auditorium just before Christmas holidays would come flooding back.
"Or there would be the memories of my mom making tons of Polish Christmas food," added Wright, who found one new tune for the sessions. That would be Patricia Conroy's I Know Santa's Been Here, which Wright considered "a no-brainer for the sessions right from the first time I heard Pat's demo."
What binds all these fabulous tunes (and some very unique arrangements) together, is the manner in which Wright's impressive instrument cradles each and every song. A new emotional maturity in Wright's vocal expression surfaced during these sessions. Her interpretations, whether it's a haunting ballad (Joy To The World) or Little Drummer Boy - which comes complete with a reggae pulse - are all hung on subtle turns of phrasing and wonderful dynamics. She accentuates themes and breathes emotions into material in a manner that is both as becoming and effective as it is sincere and sublime. "It's not like we don't rock out a bit on the CD, that's fun to do, but one is supposed to grow," figures the singer.
A Wright Christmas is an album that will be considered a must have for fans of Christmas music as well as the perfect gift to complement collections of Wright's impressive discography. "And I can't help but think that just as these songs not only remind me of many wonderful Christmas seasons past, they will continue to bring back the same kind of fond memories for all who listen," says Wright, who has put a bright new wrapping on some of our favorite Christmas songs.
A Wright Christmas is available to every computer-friendly soul across the US and around the world here on Michelle's website and at all the usual digital download sites as well.
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