Dreaming of a Brooke 'White Christmas': 'American Idol' Alum Talks Holiday Album
The season seven songstress teases the set list and inspiration for her Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza holiday show on Dec. 18.
As American Idol season seven alum Brooke White revisits her holiday album White Christmas, the singer/songwriter confesses to being what she calls a "Christmas nut."
"Always have, always will be -- growing up in the White house, we listened to Christmas music all year long," she tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Christmas music just makes me happy."
White’s musical influences are apparent on her holiday release. "The Carpenters’ Christmas Portrait is on my list of top favorite records of all time and is highly influential -- I know every lyric, harmony, oboe solo and vibrato in Karen's smooth voice, " she says. "It never gets old! Other Christmas favorites are ‘Merry Christmas, Baby’ by the Beach Boys, the Chipmunks’ Christmas song and anything from Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas."
Track one on White’s holiday album (released Nov. 2012) is "Christmas Time Is Here," a cover of a song from that Guaraldi soundtrack. "I sat at the piano and came up with an arrangement that felt very Burt Bacharach,” says White. "That was the starting point for the record and set the musical direction. Then I knew I had to do ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ because it was one of the first songs I ever sang when I was in Meet Me in St. Louis, our high school play. ‘God Only Knows’ [by the Beach Boys] was an inspiration for the arrangement. I wanted some dancier tunes, like ‘Last Christmas.’ The rest is a mixture of Christmas classics and spiritually-toned carols. Overall, I think it's a balanced mixture of upbeat fun tunes along with a few reverent moments."
She also wanted to include some original songs. "I wrote ‘Christmas Card,' a song about forgiveness and reconciliation through the simple form of a Christmas card, inspired from personal experience." Additionally, "California Christmas" is an homage to the West Coast transplants who are missing home over the holidays, and "I Love Christmas" is "a 'Girls With Glasses' Christmas classic we wrote a few years ago."
The album was produced by Chris Seefried, whose work includes one of White’s favorite bands, Fitz and the Tantrums. "The recording process was fast and fluid, almost easy," says White. "Chris is a true artist and has a unique approach to capturing the essence of an artist. The vocals are raw, and I got to play the piano on almost every track, except for 'O Come All Ye Faithful.' He had the idea of recording 'Wonderful Christmastime' but wanted to completely start from scratch with the arrangement. At first I was hesitant, but in the end I was in love with it. That creativity is what I want from a producer, to step out of my own musical box. Oh yeah, and it was recorded in the dead heat of August – super Christmas-y!"
White’s family Christmases have taken on a new tone since the birth of her daughter London in May 2012. "I always been crazy for Christmas though as you get older, it becomes a more overwhelming and stressful time of year. But having a little one to share it with has rekindled my Christmas flame. I want to make sure London experiences the same magic that I did as kid. She is still quite little but starting to show excitement. We took her to go pick out our tree this year all bundled up in a red coat. She looked so cute – such a happy memory!"
White will be performing songs from her Christmas album live at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza on Wednesday night (Dec. 18) at 7:30 p.m. "The opening act is a good friend of mine, Kimberly Dawn, who is starting her own catalog as a songwriter. It should be a great night, I'm really looking forward to getting back on stage with the band. It's been a while since I've had a show so I'm going all out: grand piano, full band, theater style. I will be wearing a dress, the guys will be wearing suits, and I've been practicing my fingers to the bone! We will be playing songs from White Christmas, a few of my own originals from my other records, and of course, "Let It Be.'"