Kurt Elling guest stars on Renée Fleming’s Christmas in New York
American soprano Renée Fleming's first-ever holiday album celebrates the beloved and iconic Christmas season in New York City. From the holiday windows lining 5th Avenue to the red and green-lit spire of the Empire State Building, the essence of the city at the most wonderful time of year is captured on Christmas in New York.
A richly collaborative recording, Christmas in New York finds Fleming singing with a relaxed intimacy and freedom distinct from her soaring classical voice.
Holiday evergreens and nostalgic favorites are both featured with fresh arrangements, and Fleming is joined by a wish list of guests from jazz, pop and Broadway, including Kurt Elling, Wynton Marsalis, Brad Mehldau, Gregory Porter, Chris Botti, Kelli O'Hara, and Rufus Wainwright.
Kurt Elling and Renée Fleming perform two beautiful selections together, “Snowbound” and the traditional Austrian carol, “Still, Still, Still.”
“Working with Renée Fleming was a real joy for me. I think you will all agree that that Renee has had a definitive role in the life of beauty in the first part of this century. Her work in operas, in recitals and concerts has justifiably enthralled millions. Being a small part of her journey as a singing artist as she finds her way in alternate genres has been an honor.”
Fleming comments, “I listen copiously to singers from all walks of life. I'm still a jazz fan, and the music of Kurt Elling, Brad Mehldau, and Bill Carrothers are constants, and Joni Mitchell will remain a touchstone.” Kurt's Flirting With Twilight is on her Amazon list of Music You Should Hear.
Explaining the sound and sensibility of Christmas in New York, Fleming says, “New York City is where I live and where I spend my holidays – and I think it's an ideal place for fully experiencing what the holidays can mean. The mix of such a wide range of cultures, coming together in a spirit of celebration, is rare and truly heartwarming. It's a time when both New Yorkers and visitors make time to appreciate what makes the city so special.”
An exclusive recording artist with Decca since 1995, Renée Fleming is known mostly as an opera singer with a career has encompassed numerous genres and styles. Last February, Fleming became the first classical singer in history to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, and her superb rendition was enjoyed by more than 111.5 million viewers in the US.
The intimate voice Fleming uses for Christmas in New York may sound new to some opera fans, but has always been there.
“I sang with a jazz trio when I was still a student, and a lot of this music felt like going back to my roots,” she explains. “I had hoped to sing jazz given the success it had given me during my undergraduate education, but while at the Eastman School afterwards, the opportunities didn't present themselves, and I fell in love with the study and pursuit of classical music.
“In singing these holiday songs, I remembered how to relax, how to be free, how to move with the music. I found new colors in my voice, a new lightness. These songs move between the worlds of pop, jazz, and roots music, in arrangements that are fresh and different. When you're a bit stressed-out during the hustle and bustle of the season, my hope is that you can put this album on, kick your shoes off, pour yourself a drink and just unwind.”
Check out this lovely video introducing Christmas in New York.
On December 4, Fleming's PBS holiday special premieres at 9pm ET (please check local listings for other broadcasts of this December pledge special).
Joined by select guests from the album, including Kurt Elling, Kelli O'Hara, Gregory Porter and Rufus Wainwright, the show features musical performances and storytelling about family, food, traditions and more. Renée's daughters and sister also join her for heartwarming carols by the fireside.
1. Winter Wonderland – Renée Fleming & Wynton Marsalis
2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Renée Fleming & Gregory Porter
3. Silver Bells – Renée Fleming & Kelli O Hara
4. Merry Christmas Darling – Renée Fleming & Chris Botti
5. Christmas Waltz – Renée Fleming
6. Who Knows Where the Time Goes – Renée Fleming & Brad Mehldau
7. Sleigh Ride – Renée Fleming & Wynton Marsalis
8. Snowbound – Renée Fleming & Kurt Elling
9. In the Bleak Midwinter – Renée Fleming & Rufus Wainwright
10. Central Park Serenade – Renée Fleming & Gregory Porter
11. The Man with the Bag – Renée Fleming
12. Love and Hard Times – Renée Fleming & Brad Mehldau
13. Still, Still, Still – Renée Fleming & Kurt Elling
14. Bonus track (iTunes only) New York Tendaberry – Renée Fleming & Yo-Yo Ma
Renée Fleming's elegant persona, along with the intimate arrangements of holiday classics, makes this album perfect for holiday parties, stocking stuffers and as a treasured holiday gift!
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