Christmas

All posts tagged Christmas

Almost the end of another year and as Alfie will be appearing on Christmas Carols with ITV tonight at 11.45pm, let’s look back on Christmas Eve 2017:

This is a wonderful arrangement of a wonderful carol and as we know, was your favourite Alfie Boe Christmas song.

This year has been another amazing journey on the musical train that Alfie takes us on – we never quite know where we’ll end up but every minute is fabulous.  Alfie achieved another top ten album position with As Time Goes By and I’m thrilled to say that I have one signed copy to give away as a competition prize! To win, just answer the question (make sure you’re subscribed):

Who duetted with Alfie on As Time Goes By?

Winner will be drawn after New Year – good luck!

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Tis the season for Christmas music (oh yes it is) so today I’ve teamed up with Angry Baby Music to bring you some old and new favourite Christmas songs. Christmas albums don’t usually lend themselves to new music, perhaps because tradition is everything at this time of year and nostalgia reigns. However, we took a look through our version of the Christmas present cupboard and chosen a few tracks from a few artists, some of which may be familiar.

If you like traditional carols, then Michael Boe and Sean Ashmore’s take on O Holy Night will be to your liking; the combination of French and English makes it stand out from other, more familiar versions and the simplicity of Sean’s arrangement enhances the pure vocals from Michael. Beth Ford’s Silent Night has the same traditional yuletide sound. Beth’s voice, which is always described as ‘hauntingly beautiful’ and ‘mesmerising’ brings a whole new expression to this traditional carol.  Angry Baby and Beth are giving away a free download of Silent Night so click here to subscribe and get yours. Meanwhile, Gareth Malone’s own composition, A Child Is Born, Malone’s very first composition, with its traditional arrangement makes an excellent addition to the already full band of Christmas carols.

If you want a traditional song updated, then take a look at what Rachael Sage does with her cover of the classic Joy To The World. Weaving together her proven sounds of folk, pop, and jazz, Rachael brings new life to such a joyful song. As this time of year is also the time to celebrate Hannukkah and Rachael’s song, Hanukkah in the Village, a favourite with Rachael’s many fans is also beautiful.

Classical-crossover artist Mary-Jess last year released an album of Christmas songs that encompasses all types of Christmas music. I Fell In Love With A Snowman provides a theme-song for falling in love whilst Mary-Jess’s duet with Rhydian on The Sound Of Christmas maintains a refreshingly natural range and pitch within the mix. Prayer To A Snowflake , the title track of the album, brings something fresh to the seasonal catalogue. Easily the stand-out piece of a stand-out album, Mary-Jess’s juxtaposition of Chinese musicality and classical European vocals creates an addictively melodic offering.

Earlier we touched on Gareth Malone’s 2016 Christmas album and we return to it with a look at a song written by Malone and Kaiser Chiefs front man Ricky Wilson. Paradise Street isn’t actually very festive but fits in perfectly to a Christmas album as it instantly calls to mind the magnificent Fairy Tale of New York that has been a Christmas staple since Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues took it to number one. Wilson is of course an extremely talented wordsmith and his bittersweet lyrics combine effortlessly with the melody to take the listener on a musical journey.

Continuing the theme of not especially Christmassy festive offerings, Robb Murphy‘s North Star conjures an atmosphere of lives shared through the simple things. Contrasting a lilting beat with Robb’s laid-back vocal style, you’re invited to hum – or whistle – along. Glisteningly wintery, warm and fuzzy, the song holds an entire landscape in the simplest of arrangements.

We’ll end as we began with a Boe brother – Alfie. Alfie hasn’t recorded many Christmas songs (although he’s sung a fair few in live performances) but one that isn’t much heard these days is Home for Christmas, from his appearance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2012. Beautiful.

If you’re still contemplating Christmas shopping and are unsure what to get the music fan in your life, then Angry Baby have the solution! They have teamed up with Robb Murphy and Beth Ford to produce a couple of bundles of music that they love and know you will too. Click here for Robb and here for Beth.

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O Holy Night came out on top, wiping the floor with the other songs, taking 49% of the vote.  The songs in second and third place were I Saw Three Ships and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, with 10% and 9% respectively. Alfie has recorded O Holy Night, with the Boston Pops, on an album called Sleigh Ride (thanks to Claire Smith for the video):

The lyrics of the O Holy Night were written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847, having been asked by the parish priest to write a poem for Christmas. He obliged and wrote the beautiful words of the hymn.  Needing music, he approached his friend Adolphe Charles Adams who then composed the melody. The carol was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight.

Don’t forget that Alfie will present Christmas Carols on ITV, Christmas Eve at 11.45pm again this year – hopefully we’ll have another song to choose from in 2019!

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This week, we’re looking at Helen Bird’s Six Sensational Songs.  Helen first saw Alfie at the Festival of Remembrance in 2007, a fresh faced young man, singing Bring Him Home.  At the time she just thought nothing of the singer, just that it was an apt song for Remembrance Weekend.  These are Helen’s six songs:

Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Helen says ” I adore this film especially this song”.

I Vow To Thee My Country.  Helen says “This hymn reminds me of the many military church services I attended with my hubby whilst he was serving in the Army. I’ve chosen Linda Wellington’s footage of Alfie accompanied by The Central Band of The Royal British Legion at the First World War Commemorative Concert, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle as this sounds just amazing.”

If I Can Dream from Storyteller.  Helen chose this as everyone has hopes and dreams and this sums it all up.

O Holy Night from Boston Pops’ Sleigh Ride.  Helen says “This is a hymn that will always remind me of my dear departed Mum, albeit I first saw and heard it being sung by Mario Lanza in the film The Great Caruso when we watched films on a Saturday afternoon, usually whilst she did the ironing.”

Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia.   This was the first time that Helen heard this song live, at Alfie and Michael’s outdoor concert at Walcot Hall in Shropshire in July 2017.  This was the second time Helen had seen Alfie live, the first being Birmingham in 2013.

Bring Him Home, Alfie’s signature song.  Helen says “I first heard him sing  this back in 2007. Although I didn’t start appreciating Alfie’s voice until my daughters brought home the DVD of the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables and I sat there transfixed to the TV, listening to the voice we all truly love. I decided to choose the 2007 Festival of Remembrance version because to me it brings to mind the importance of when it was performed and also because of my hubby’s military background. He lost several comrades during his time served and if he went away on exercise, I used to say to myself after he had left the house, bring him home safely.”

Thank you Helen for sharing your six sensational songs with us – three more new songs to add to our list!

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Not long now until Christmas and those of you with As Time Goes By to open on Christmas Day, you’re going to love it – no idea how you’ve restrained yourself from listening though!

In the meantime, let’s make the most of the Christmas spirit by voting for our favourite Alfie Boe Christmas song – you know how much we love a poll!  These are the songs that Alfie has either recorded or sung live somewhere – unfortunately, there aren’t as many as we might like:

The poll has now closed.

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xx

Merry Christmas everyone!  It’s the time of year to look back at what’s happened and what’s been achieved and oh my goodness, if you thought 2016 was good for Alfie, then 2017 knocked it out of the park.  What an awesome year he’s had!

Regular readers will know that I love to look back, so here are my 2017 highlights:

  • Seeing Alfie in Carousel – wasn’t he fabulous as Billy Bigelow?
  • A few stage door hugs with Alfie during the Carousel run:

  • The Trinity YouTubeathon in which we raised over £500 for one of Alfie’s charities
  • Alfie and Michael achieving a world record at HMV in October and meeting some fabulous fans too – click here to see the fan videos we made
  • Seeing so many fans in Australia and USA happy to see Alfie and Michael
  • Together Again reaching the number one chart position upon release – and now going Platinum!
  • Attending the ITV special, Ball and Boe: Back Together
  • Interviewing Alfie – if you haven’t yet seen part one, make sure you’re subscribed!

Thank you to each and everyone one of you who reads thoughtsofjustafan – your messages of support are very much appreciated.  I’m thrilled to reveal that we recently sailed past the 250K hits…I’m looking forward to half a million!

There are some special people to thank who make this whole thing happen:

Debbie Bannigan for continuing to believe in me and more importantly, to show me how far I’ve come and how far I can still go.  In the words of Michael Ball on this tour, “dream big and follow your dreams”; Debbie has shown me what can happen when you believe in yourself.

Carole Hunt for continuing to allow me the use of her photo for the site banner.

Linda Wellington for the use of her wonderful photos and videos.

Thank you to everyone who allows me to use their videos here.

Roberta Kappus, Cecelia Powell, Carole Hunt, Barbara Wren, Heather Crosskey, Heather Moore, Pauline Hyland, Claire Shorter, Kate Griffin for being such wonderful guest reviewers.

Linda Anstee, Linda Wellington, Carole Hunt, Karen Rogers, Pat Watterson, Cecelia Powell, Sue Redfern for being there – thanks for keeping me sane.

Linda Anstee, Ellen Rook and Rachael Hailey for being my top social media sharers.

Linda McCann, Sue Redfern and Cecelia Powell for being my top commenters.

Huge thanks to Emily and Andrea at Vector and to Ash and team at Decca – you’ve been amazing and a joy to work with.

Finally, it’s a massive thank you to Alfie for his unstinting support and generosity – without you, there would be no thoughtsofjustafan!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

xxxx

I have a confession to make – I truly love Christmas songs and Christmas albums so it was with total joy that I heard Rachael Sage had released a holidays EP, aptly named Joy. It’s a holidays album because it also encompasses Hanukkah, also being celebrated at the moment.

It’s a tricky thing to bring something new to Christmas music but that is exactly what Sage does with her cover of the classic Joy To The World.  Weaving together her proven sounds of folk, pop, and jazz,  Sage brings new life to such a joyful song; indeed, my overwhelming emotion when listening (and I can’t stop listening) is joy.  Sage’s vocals are crystal clear and she certainly knows how to arrange a song to suit.

Tchatchkes and Latkes is one of Sage’s own songs and is lively and tongue in cheek, originally being written for Rachael’s Joe’s Pub shows. It’s pure, unadulterated fun, definitely passing the ‘have to get up and dance’ test.  The second Hanukkah song, Hanukkah in the Village, a favourite with Rachael’s many fans is also beautiful:

 

Wonderfully evocative, the song takes you all around New York City in three minutes and makes you feel like you’re actually experiencing the holiday season there.  If I didn’t want to visit New York at this time of year before, I do now!

The most interesting track on the EP is the Yiddish ballad, and Rachael’s first Yiddish recording, Umru Meine, which debuted earlier this year at Skirball Center For The Performing Arts, where she sang it alongside Tovah Feldshuh, David Hyde Pierce and other Broadway performers as part of a National Yiddish Theatre gala event.  This is a cover but again, with Sage’s own arrangement suited to her style and you can feel Sage really connecting to the language.

Joy is available to download here:

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xx

How would you like to help Alfie Boe and Michael Ball get the Christmas number one in both the singles and album chart and feel good about helping others at the same time?

If the answer to this is of course you would, then all you have to do is send some sunshine to your friends by sending them a download of Ball and Boe’s charity single, Bring Me Sunshine. Click here to download from iTunes and send as a gift.  Click here to download via amazon. And when you’ve done that tweet it with the hashtag #SendSunshine!

Let’s face it, everyone’s Christmas would be made better by listening to Alfie, Michael and friends singing this Morecambe and Wise classic:

The charity benefiting from the proceeds is Rays of Sunshine, a charity that grants wishes for seriously ill children and teenagers across the UK. The charity was founded in 2003 and has since granted more than 6,000 wishes for brave and deserving children. Their work provides hope and creates lasting and precious memories for thousands of families across the UK. The charity receives no government funding, so proceeds will enable them to help more children who greatly need help.  Some of the children in the choir appeared on stage at the 02 and raised the roof so please help them to raise as much money as possible.

Alfie and Michael are joined by other artists including Al Murray, Angela Rippon, Aston Merrygold, Bryn Terfel, Calum Scott, Collabro, Danny O’Donoghue (The Script), Gareth Malone, Gregory Porter, Imelda May, Imelda Staunton, Jason Manford, Kelsey Grammer, Lesley Joseph, Loose Women (Kaye Adams, Nadia Sawalha, Stacey Solomon, Linda Robson), Mark King, Mel Giedroyc, Miranda Hart, Ore Oduba, Pauline Quirke, Rick Wakeman, Seal, Shirley Ballas (Strictly Come Dancing), and the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Choir.

I earlier mentioned that Alfie and Michael are in the race for two number one slots this Christmas and of course they clinched the top album spot in 2016.  Having debuted at number one upon it’s October release, wouldn’t it be best thing to end a fabulous year if Together Again returned to the top spot?  The only thing to better it would be Bring Me Sunshine reigning supreme and raising lots of money for Rays of Sunshine.

Click here to download from iTunes and here from amazon, or you can text GET SUNSHINE to 84222 (£1 + standard message rate) and send some sunshine to all your friends – thank you!  Please share with the hashtag #SendSunshine as well.

thanks for reading – please share and #SendChristmasSunshine

xx

 

For many, including me, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s take on the Morecambe and Wise classic, Bring Me Sunshine was a highlight of their second album, Together Again.  Consequently, it was wonderful news to hear that they had recorded a version to be released as a charity single to benefit the Rays of Sunshine children’s charity.  Released tomorrow, it’s hoped that the all star cast will help in the battle for this year’s Christmas number one – perhaps Ball and Boe might even make it a Christmas number one in both the singles and album chart?

Alfie and Michael are joined by the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Choir, made up of a group of children all living with a serious illness.  After getting to know the charity, Michael and Alfie have been so moved by their work that they wanted to do more, and so reached out to bring sunshine into the lives of desperately ill children this Christmas.  Other artists are Al Murray, Angela Rippon, Aston Merrygold, Bryn Terfel, Calum Scott, Collabro, Danny O’Donoghue (The Script), Gareth Malone, Gregory Porter, Imelda May, Imelda Staunton, Jason Manford, Kelsey Grammer, Lesley Joseph, Loose Women (Kaye Adams, Nadia Sawalha, Stacey Solomon, Linda Robson), Mark King, Mel Giedroyc, Miranda Hart, Ore Oduba, Pauline Quirke, Rick Wakeman, Seal, Shirley Ballas (Strictly Come Dancing), and the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Choir.

Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity grants wishes for seriously ill children and teenagers across the UK. The charity was founded in 2003 and has since granted more than 6,000 wishes for brave and deserving children. Their work provides hope and creates lasting and precious memories for thousands of families across the UK. The charity receives no government funding, so proceeds will enable them to help more children who greatly need our help. Visit www.raysofsunshine.org.uk to find out more.  Decca will donate 100% of all profits, whilst committing to a minimum donation of 50p from the sale of each permanent download to Rays of Sunshine.

To Bring Sunshine to this and order the single please text GET SUNSHINE to 84222 (T&Cs – Texts cost £1 + 1 standard rate msg. Help: 0333 0030 580.  You can also download from iTunes here and from amazon here.

 

Merry Christmas everyone!  What a year 2016 has been for Alfie Boe – and 2017 looks set to be just as good!

Thoughtsofjustafan usually looks back at the year at New Year but I have something else planned for this New Year’s post (make sure you’re subscribed to hear about it first!) so here goes my top ten moments of this year:

  • Becoming the Official Alfie Boe Fan Blog in February this year – dream come true!
  • Keep Me In Your Heart live and emotional at Blackpool…my buttons are still just about intact…

  • A fabulous night’s entertainment with wonderful friends at Bournemouth.
  • The Together tour itself and seeing so many happy fans getting tickets – even if the sale days themselves were just a little bit stressful!
  • Alfie’s Opera Heroes on Radio 2, especially Maria Callas.
  • Alfie finally talking about Strictly Come Dancing with proper knowledge, borne from watching the show – surely we have Michael to thank for that?!
  • Interviewing The Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey – what a gentleman.
  • Interviewing Jennifer Warnes – I still haven’t got over her answer to the question about preferring duets to solo songs!
  • Alfie and Michael hitting the top chart spot – it’s been a long time coming and so well deserved
  • Alfie saying how nice it was to see me again at the Manchester meet and greet – him and Michael both loved the card from fans

alfie-card

Thank you to everyone for reading and supporting thoughtsofjustafan – I really appreciate the time you take to comment and share.  Recently, we passed the staggering number of 160,000 hits – thank you!

Thank you too for all the wonderful compliments you have sent over the year, you are all very kind.  It never fails to amaze me how widespread Alfie’s fans are – click here to see where we all are.

There are some extra special people to thank who make thoughtsofjustafan possible:

Thanks to Debbie Bannigan for believing in me and ensuring that I too, believe in me.  You are amazingly generous and thoughtsofjustafan would not continue to exist without you.

Thanks to Linda Wellington for continually providing me with photos and videos and allowing me to use them.

Thanks to Carole Hunt for continuing to allow me to use her photo for the main blog banner.

Thanks to everyone who allows me to use their videos here.

Thanks to Roberta Kappus and Carole Hunt for being fabulous reviewers again this year.

Thanks to Ellen Rook, Linda Anstee and Marie Blair for being my top social media sharers – thanks for spreading the word!

Thanks to my top commenters in 2016 – Linda McCann, Sue Redfern and Sally Cook.  Love hearing from you!

Huge thanks to Emily at Vector for all your help and support.

Finally, without Alfie’s support there would be no thoughtsofjustafan – thanks for everything in 2016 Alfie!

Merry Christmas!