Whistling, hand claps, funk-strumming guitar, and a boppin' bass line lay the sonic stage for Natalie Brown's luminous vocals on "Wish Upon a Star", the first track of the self-released EP "This Christmas". The up-tempo jazz-inspired "Spirit of Christmas Time" follows, marrying old-school with new-school before taking the listener back to Natalie's Pop/R&B roots with the mid-tempo track "Favorite Time of Year". The EP then settles into the mellow zone with the beautifully rendered ballads "Save the Last Dance" and "This Christmas" - the latter being the title track of the EP and a tribute to Natalie's mother who lost a valiant battle with cancer in 2013.
Fans of Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Sam Smith and Morgan James will definitely find something get into the holiday spirit with on this release. With musical influences ranging from Whitley Houston and Aretha Franklin, to Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight, Natalie Brown's music is described as uplifting and inspiring and fuses R&B/Pop with Adult Contemporary and a touch of 'soul'.
Thanks so much for taking the time to check out my new EP “This Christmas“.
I'm so happy to release the full EP to you this year (2014).
There is a story behind this EP project. It’s important to me that you know the story behind the songs, whether you decide to purchase or not.
I’m gonna be honest… this was a really tough project for me to finish.
As some of you who have been fans for a long time know, I recorded my first Christmas album in 2003… 11 years ago. It was just before this, July 2003 in fact, that my Mum Anna was diagnosed with Stage 2/3 Cusp Inflammatory Breast cancer. It was such a scary time, but with her lumpectomy, lymph node resection, chemo and radiation planned, the prognosis was good. I proceeded with finishing and releasing the album “A Cool Christmas” that year.
Fast forward 11 years… We had plans to do a Christmas album for 2013 but my Mum went downhill quickly in the spring and writing and recording became very difficult. It honestly felt like my throat would absolutely close up on me as I realized my Mum was slipping away. We began sessions in early summer 2013 and this time wanted to write original songs. My heart was sort of half way in it because I really was going through an emotionally difficult time and expressing myself with voice became difficult.
In June 2013 I went home for a week with Mum and we had a lovely time. She was as frail as a bird and in bed most of the time, but we enjoyed lovely talks about life and pretty much everything and I cherished the time I had to love on her and talk to her.
August 23rd 2013, my dear Mum passed away. I miss her so much. After being with my immediate family I came back home to Toronto and it was difficult to do anything. I knew it was probably healthiest to get back into some kind of normal routine, but it was hard. I went back to the project and my throat was still closed. It was so hard to sing. We began to work on a new song, “This Christmas”. We wanted it to encompass the feeling of coming ‘home’ for Christmas in a universal sense. I wanted to incorporate elements that I was feeling with regards to my Mum so the line “Even if I have to ride a shooting star“, for me, means that I will be with my Mum even though she is physically not here with me at Christmas. My spirit, her spirit, will ride a shooting star so that we can be together… just in time to sing some carols with the choir.
Singing the leads for these songs was hard for me. It was hard to get my throat to open and sing. My heart had been grieving the loss of my dear Mum and making a Holiday record eerily 10 years after her diagnosis, after her losing her long fight, was incredibly hard. But I did it for her. She wanted me to keep going, to keep reaching for my dream, to keep doing what I love. So I did.
I am offering it to you for download via Bandcamp where you can buy it for a minimum price or whatever above that you feel it’s worth to you.
Every song I sing or write is from my heart… but this one is a bit different than most as it was completed during a fragile time in my life. It’s so difficult to lose your Mum, it really is. Especially after watching her fight so hard for her life. I know many of you have a similar story of loss.
I took 2014 off to regroup mentally, physically and spiritually and was able to finish the 2 remaining songs for the EP. I really hope you enjoy the songs. As always, they are from my heart to yours.
I hope that this Holiday you take time to enjoy the simple things. Even if you aren’t with family for Christmas, take time to count your blessings. You have blessings to count, even if sometimes you don’t immediately recognize them. Take some time to count these blessings and share love whenever you can this season and throughout the year. I hope you have a beautiful Holiday, wherever you you are and with whomever you are with.
released November 18, 2014
Credits: All songs written by: Jeremy Rwakaara & Natalie Brown. Lead and background vocals by: Natalie Brown. Keyboard and instrument programming, recording, mixing and mastering by: Jeremy Rwakaara. Produced by: Jeremy Rwakaara. All songs published by: Zikki Publishing (ASCAP) and natfunk music (BMI).
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