Last year, SoloPiano.com had the privilege of interviewing one of the piano greats in the contemporary solo piano field. That musician was none other than David Lanz. If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to read our special interview with David here!
Lanz gave us an intimate and beautiful background of his album “Movements of the Heart," which also went on to win the 2013 SoloPiano.com Album of the Year Award!
Coming off the heels of this amazing work, David Lanz has once again embarked on a first in his creative career - with a start-to-finish collaboration, featuring a prominent vocalist. That vocalist is the superbly talented Kristin Amarie.
This duo will not only capture your ear, but also capture your hearts in time for the Holidays, in this beautiful piano/vocal collaboration titled “Forever Christmas!” Give it a listen, we highly recommend it!
Below is the Press Release of this exciting new release!
David Lanz, Best-Selling Piano Sensation, and Versatile Vocalist,
Kristin Amarie, Release “Forever Christmas”
For the globally beloved pianist and composer, David Lanz, Forever
Christmas is an album of firsts. It’s the first recording the New Age
legend has created from start to finish with a songwriting
collaborator and his first prominently featuring a vocalist. It’s also
Lanz’s first release since relocating from his longtime home in the
Pacific Northwest to upstate New York.
As you may have already guessed, all of these firsts have
something—someone—in common: Kristin (pronounced Christine) Amarie, a
Norwegian-born vocalist who has, over the past few years, become not
only Lanz’s musical partner but his partner in life. David and Kristin
met about three years ago when the singer came to one of Lanz’s
workshops. From that unassuming encounter, their love and their desire
to make music together flowered. David made a guest appearance on
Amarie’s debut album release, last year’s Notes From a Journey, and
now Forever Christmas is the first full-length fruit of their personal
and working relationship.
“We decided we wanted to do a Christmas record primarily because last
winter was one of the worst on record,” says Lanz. “We were stuck in
the house and it was snowing like crazy and I said, ‘Let’s write some
Christmas music.’ That’s why most of the album ended up being original
material. We picked two traditional songs because they’re our mothers’
favorites: Kristin really wanted to do ‘Oh Holy Night’ for her mom,
and ‘Silent Night’ is my mom’s favorite.”
Kristin, who has traveled extensively and lived in several countries,
is fluent in five languages, and sings part of “Silent Night” in the
original German. Another track, “A Thousand Lights (Nu Tändas Tusen
Juleljus),” is originally a Swedish-language song, sung here for the
first time in English by Amarie.
The rest of Forever Christmas was written collaboratively by David and
Kristin. The songs came to the pair—Lanz jokingly calls them the
“Sonny and Cher of New Age”—in different ways. “We were traveling a
lot so we even worked on one of them on the airplane,” says Amarie.
“The guy sitting next to us thought we were crazy.” Mostly, though,
the compositions arose either from melodic ideas or snippets of lyrics
and were then developed jointly by Lanz and Amarie.
“When I play the piano I think in terms of melody and the reason I do
that is because my left hand is the band,” says Lanz. “It’s the bass
player and the drummer—and my right hand is the singer. That’s how
I’ve always approached the piano and why I think my style is a little
different than some of the other ‘New Age’ guys who just kind of
noodle. I actually try to write a song: an intro, a verse, a hook, a
chorus. So I’d start with a lyric and Kristin and I would talk about
things and then we’d turn it into music and she would come in. She’s
really good at helping to shape the melody so once I had a basic idea
it was really a co-write.”
For Lanz, who has always been primarily an instrumental music
composer, writing with lyrics and a vocalist in mind was a welcomed
change. “It’s kind of like I’m reinventing myself through Kristin,” he
“And,” adds Amarie quickly, “I’m developing through him.”
For Lanz, of course, the process of writing and recording music with
an equal partner is vastly different from the way he’s created
throughout his long, stellar career, one which has seen multiple
best-selling recordings, sold-out concerts, shelves full of awards and
copious acclaim come his way. Forever Christmas is only Amarie’s
second album-length release, but for her too the collaboration with
Lanz, whom she calls a “mentor,” marks a new way of looking at
music-making. “It’s much more hands-on for me now,” she says. “This
one I was way more involved in the whole thing. David is absolutely
amazing. He knows everything and is so talented.”
As they were crafting the music that would become Forever Christmas,
David and Kristin were careful to avoid clichés in their writing and
overused cover choices—it’s deliberate that there’s no “Jingle Bells”
or “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” on the album. “It’s about the
spiritual side of the holiday and a lot about love as well,” says
Kristin. “Christmas has become so commercialized. That’s why in one of
the lyrics we ask, ‘What is Christmas?’ At the very end the answer is
peace within. That’s what the real message is supposed to be. I’ve
always wanted to do a Christmas record,” she adds, “since I was a kid.
To me, Christmas is the most romantic time of year.”
“We’re not trying to cloak our feelings about Christmas in any arcane
ways,” adds Lanz, who adds that the title track, “Forever Christmas,”
was inspired by the passing of his longtime assistant Carol last fall.
“I made mention of friends who aren’t with us anymore in the song, so
I have a sentimental attachment to it,” he says, adding, “Once I got
the phrase ‘Forever Christmas’ locked into my head I thought it would
be a great title for the record. In some people’s minds it is
Once the material was written, David, with assistance from trusted
associate Chip Westerfield, recorded the piano at the home he and
Kristin share. The couple then flew back to Washington state, where
they teamed with David’s brother and longtime right-hand man Gary
Lanz, who serves here as co-producer, engineer and mixer. After the
basic tracks were recorded at Gary’s home studio, “Kristin came in and
sang like an angel,” Lanz says.
Among the contributing musicians are bassist Keith Lowe and cellist
Walter Gray, who contributed previously to Lanz’s last release, the
Beatles tribute Liverpool, as well as guitarist Eric Tingstad and
woodwinds player Nancy Rumble. Additional guitar was provided by Gary Lanz and Alonzo Davideo.