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Annie Lennox's 'A Christmas Cornucopia' Soars with Fresh Takes on Traditional Hymns

Annie Lennox's 'A Christmas Cornucopia' Soars with Fresh Takes on Traditional Hymns

The iconic Eurythmics front woman, Annie Lennox has released a record of holiday songs showcasing her signature sound.Annie Lennox: A Christmas Cornucopia, drops today. And like that first time listening to the A Very Special Christmas Album, Annie’s rich alto, arguably one of most instantly recognizable and greatest female voices in the history of rock, takes hold of the listener with the first chords of “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” and hangs on through 12 songs to the final cut, the original “Universal Child.” Lennox says that proceeds from “Universal Child” will benefit The Annie Lennox Foundation, her charity that raises money for charitable projects supporting and educating women and children in Africa with HIV/AIDS. 

TracyEGilchrist

It’s been 23 years since the first A Very Special Christmas Album became the must-have contemporary holiday record. And while the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Nicks and Madonna contributed seasonal tunes to that recording, with proceeds going to benefit Special Olympics, track two was the out-of-the-gate showstopper. Eurythmics version of “Winter Wonderland” – famously recorded by Johnny Mercer and Perry Como in the fifties – was at once haunting and joyful, and inventively different from any interpretation that had come before it.

Decades later, the iconic Eurythmics front woman, Annie Lennox has released a record of holiday songs showcasing her signature sound. Lennox's A Christmas Cornucopia, drops today.

And like that first time listening to the A Very Special Christmas Album, Annie’s rich alto, arguably one of most instantly recognizable and greatest female voices in the history of rock, takes hold of the listener with the first chords of “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” and hangs on through 12 songs to the final cut, “Universal Child," a song performed on American Idol Gives Back 2010.

A woman whose activism is nearly as prevalent as her vocal chops, Lennox says that proceeds from “Universal Child” will benefit The Annie Lennox Foundation, her charity that raises money for charitable projects supporting and educating women and children in Africa with HIV/AIDS.  Prior to raising money with “Universal Child,” Lennox launched her SING campaign to raise money and awareness for women and children with HIV / AIDS.

While holiday music is often uplifting and joyous, Lennox injects a hefty dose of activism into her back story for some of the music on A Christmas Cornucopia. For instance, she’s recorded a haunting rendition of “The Coventry Carol (Lullay, Lullay),” that she likens to the plight of Africa’s child soldiers saying the song, “alludes to the killing of first-born boy children by King Herod… and going back more deeply into the story of the song, I kept getting images of child soldiers in my head…The violation of children is endemic in many so places. Even though this carol is ancient, the brutality of the subject matter is just as relevant today.”

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A Christmas Cornucopia also features the African Children’s Choir, with whom she has forged a long-standing relationship. Here’s what she says about working with the organization:

“There are 34 different choirs. They’re like a big extended family – the people who work with them, their careers, are called aunties and uncles. And it’s so precious – if you asked them, as we did with these eight and nine year olds, ‘how is your life different now that you’re in the choir?’ They would say things like, ‘Now I get really good food to eat.’ Or, ‘Now I wear nice clothes.’   “I had met them several times before, through 44664 (Nelson Mandela’s HIV AIDS foundation) – we had this ongoing connection, and I felt that if I was to record any children’s voices it had to be theirs.”

Lennox’s album of Christmas songs that serves to do more than stimulate the average mall-goers’ pocket during holiday shopping mania also offers up sheer listening pleasure with fresh interpretations of classic carols that still hew close to the originals with Lennox’s renditions of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and the captivating “In the Bleak Mid Winter.”

A collection that holds appeal for fans of holiday music, naysayers of the barrage of Christmas music of late and secular purists alike, Lennox’s release of holiday songs soars above so many others in pure inventiveness while still offering gorgeous harmonies to fans of traditional hymns and just plain fans of great music.

Additionally, the cover art is just fabulous. A woman who helped usher in the music video age with memorable performances in “Sweet Dreams,” “I Need a Man,” and “Walking on Broken Glass,” Lennox’s cover featuring her in a caroling pose is, at once, fully with and without irony. 

Here's Lennox's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" video.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

<p>Cinephile, cyclist, proud cat lady and unabashed Pretty Little Liars guru.</p>

<p>Cinephile, cyclist, proud cat lady and unabashed Pretty Little Liars guru.</p>