Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

~Photo Montage by fountaindawg~

I admit that over time, I've become a lot more Scrooge-like when it comes to the Christmas holiday season. It's so much stress, and it starts earlier every year. I'm sick of seeing Christmas decorations and items for sale in stores in August. It just makes it feel like the whole thing never goes away. I really don't want to think about the shopping for gifts that no one really needs, the baking, the decorating and the 1001 things that go into planning that one day of the year especially when my Thanksgiving turkey is still alive. *g* The only thing that seems to get me in the spirit is listening to some Christmas music from Clay Aiken AKA Mr.Christmas. If there was ever a voice to make me forget the bills that will be arriving in January, it's Clay singing "Chestnuts roasting over an open fire" or "Down on your knees". When did Christmas music get so sexy? *g* I'm just a sucker for a "Christmas Waltz" or two. Too bad my hubby doesn't dance. On November 6th, I finally got a bit of the spirit when Clay taped the NBC skating special "Holiday Celebration on Ice" which will be shown on Christmas Day. He sang eight stunning songs which wasn't really enough, but for a fan 'enough' is not in the vocabulary.

The skaters:

Silver Olympic champion Sascha Cohen
Six-time U.S. champion and world champion Todd Eldredge
Two-time Olympic medalist Philippe Candeloro
World champion Yuka Sato
World bronze medalist Caryn Kadavy
World ice dancing champion Shae-Lynn Bourne
Eight-time British champion Steven Cousins
Three-time U.S. pairs champions Jenni Meno and Todd Sand
Reigning world ice dancing champions Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon

The songs:

Clay & Cast: Christmas Waltz
Clay & Shae-Lynn Bourne: Don't Save it All for Christmas Day
Clay & Todd Eldredge: All is Well
Clay & Sasha Cohen: The Christmas Song
Clay & Phillipe Candelero: Sleigh Ride
Clay & Jenny Meno and Todd Sands: Merry Christmas With Love
Clay & Sasha Cohen: Winter Wonderland
Clay & Cast/Couples: What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

The slide show:

Reflections from the fans:

Clay seemed to be having a great time and had obviously developed a comfortable rapport with some of the skaters. He appeared relaxed and really seemed to be enjoying singing while they skated. He applauded each skater and usually acknowledged them at the beginning and end of the performance. The skaters in turn would acknowledge Clay at the end with a gesture or nod or applause......or a hug in Shae's case. I saw Clay shake hands with Todd Sand as they left the ice at the end of their performance.

His voice just fills the arena and literally wraps around you and goes through you all the way to the core. I was completely entralled- it was like time stood still and there was no one else there- I know I was holding my breath and I know I was sitting on the edge of my seat...

What i have noticed - between hearing Solitaire at Sedaka- and these songs the other night is what a mature, sophisticated songsman he has become. I was listening to "All Is Well" and Solitaire on the plane back- previous performances- and then i listened to the Sedaka Solitaire. What a difference- you can see the gradual development and blossoming of his vocals. And whereas before i would get chills hearing it live and then not as much in the rewatching, these latest performances induce chills over and over. I believe he is truly now singing from his soul. We are so blessed ot have his voice in our lives.

A few have reported the standing O for All is Well was for Clay alone but I felt it was spontaneous and was for both singer and skater. Clay sang a beautiful arrangement that show cased his voice but did not overpower the artistry of Todd catching the emotion of the song and translating it with his movements on the ice. The performance reduced some of the audience to tears and brought skater and singer's fans to their feet. It was one of those "I was there when ..." performances that we all cherish.

Someone said that when Clay left the stage, it was like the air left the room - what a great observation. The difference was palpable. He has a presence and "live" it is so glaringing obvious. We were all struck by the wonderful rapport between the skaters and Clay. I do believe they were very impressed with our guy. It was just awesome.

It was a different show for me, as Clay was playing it very low key, to not take the attention away from the skaters. It actually made me really appreciate the voice even more. It was the first time for me to hear "All Is Well" in person. Never hearing it live before, one thing that used to bother me is that when he hits that final note, everyone starts screaming and you can’t hear him very well. Now I know why, it’s completely uncontrollable. I wasn’t aware that I was screaming, until I realized my throat was hurting. Just spectacular.

Las Vegas Skating Show—we heard, saw, felt this gift of song anew, fresh and different. His eyes twinkled; he sparkled, he glistened, he just flat out shone brightly. Sheer JOY! Ethereal, yet down to earth. I’ve been trying to think of how to say it. We know the sayings, “smooth as silk,” “soft as butter.” It didn’t feel so much like a performance—he was so “settled” for lack of a better word and so completely in the moment. Charming, relaxed and at ease, yes, but more than that. Self-assured, yes, but that’s not it either. Each version was not just a song that he sang; it was a song that he felt. Not so much a performance as an in-the-moment expression of honest, pure and unadulterated joy. His “singing” was easy, but not lazy. It felt like being in an intimate and familiar piano bar, cozy lounge kind of thing with a crackling fire. But not lounge lizardy. I know—maybe this...for those old enough to was kind of like Dean Martin leaning against the piano with his accompanist who’d been with him for 20 years. They moved symbiotically, in concert, knowing and sensing the other with words unspoken. It’s as if they’d been working together for a lifetime, you know that thing where you can finish each other’s sentences—like they can feel the music—not the player of the notes and the singer of the song. “You” sensed that they knew each other musically and moved and related as one—with the music flowing from him/them.

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