Christmas is often associated with family and community, and Ken Lavigne’s new Christmas album is full of both.
The Chemainus tenor released Comfort & Joy Nov. 1, and his new album embraces his Island life, as it was recorded with the Vancouver Island Symphony at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo, his own family members sing on it, and it was engineered at the Woodshop Recording Studio in Duncan.
Lavigne’s family is a big part of the album.
“I had sort of hit a wall during the recording process, and …one of the pieces, it didn’t feel right, and I knew it needed a more sort of a pure, angelic voice,” he recalled. “I was talking to my wife about maybe including one of the girls in the recording process, so we talked to them and they said they would be excited to do that and it would be fun. So we taught them the song, and it was just a bit of an experiment, just to see if it works. And of course, my daughter goes up to the microphone and nails it first try and puts me to shame because here I am, I agonized over every syllable and every little nuance and everything, and she just goes up, happy as a lark without any anxiety or worry, and just sings naturally. It was almost like a lesson to me on how to really do it and how to just sing naturally.”
Lavigne is referring to his 10-year-old daughter Grace, who can be heard on “Away in a Manger.” Both Grace and nine-year-old Lucy sing on “Silent Night,” along with Lavigne’s wife, Alice.
Lavigne also has a five-year-old son, Geordie, and Lavigne says he loves to sing too but isn’t quite ready for centre stage.
Lavigne is thrilled to be able to share the experience of making this album with his daughters.
“It was exciting for me, and when I hear the finished product, I kind of get a little welled up and emotional, and it’s hard for me to express the emotion you feel when you hear your children performing so admirably something that you love so much,” he said.
Lavigne had previously recorded an album of Christmas tunes in 2008 as a fundraiser in his successful bid to rent Carnegie Hall.
This new Christmas album — along with Lavigne’s upcoming concerts — will be a fundraising tool as well, as Lavigne has a new goal — to sing on the Sydney Opera House stage in 2015.
One of the ways Lavigne is hoping to raise money to help him reach his goal is by launching an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. He expects the video for that campaign to be released this week.
“We have recorded a song that is not Christmasy at all and kind of outside of my regular genre that explains who I am in sort of an epic East Coast sea shanty style,” he said. “We shot the video in Chemainus at the Owl’s Nest and pulled people off the street to be extras. It was so much fun.”
Lavigne is excited to sing in such an iconic building.
“I remember hearing a quote by a really smart person who said there are two ways to look at the world — one way is to look at it as if nothing is a miracle, and the other way is to look at the world as if everything is a miracle,” he said. “I kind of shun that kind of binary logic that things are either switched on or switched off, but when that smart person is Albert Einstein, I listen to it. When I look at the Sydney Opera House, once you dive into a little bit of the history, it’s a bit of a miracle building in that it really ought not to exist. It’s a miracle that the design was chosen; even though it was outstanding, it was so audacious and so out of the box, the architect who submitted it was young and very ambitious and really had no idea how to build it until it actually won the design competition …Honestly, the fact that it exists at all is a bit of a miracle, and now that this building has been built, it’s become a beacon for artists and musicians and playwrights and opera singers to come to this great hall and to become part of the history of this fantastic place.
“I guess I’m asking people to believe in the miracle of making this happen, which is kind of audacious to even dream of me being able to go down and perform on this historic stage. I guess that’s what drawing me — the fact that it is a beacon of hope for thinking outside the box and believing in miracles.”
Lavigne will be celebrating his new album and raising money for his Sydney Opera House dream during his upcoming Home For Christmas concerts Saturday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. at Chemainus United Church.
Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door and are sold at 49th Parallel Chemainus, Chemainus Foods, Chemainus United Church, British Allsorts and Ladysmith United Church.
To learn more about Lavigne, visit www.kenlavigne.com.