BWW Album Review: THE NORM LEWIS CHRISTMAS ALBUM Is A Joyful, Jazzy Gift
Last month, Broadway baritone Norm Lewis released his latest album, THE Norm Lewis CHRISTMAS ALBUM. Don't let the title deceive you though. While there are are great number of classic holiday tracks, there is also a healthy sprinkling of theater classics. The 18-track album reaches far and wide into the catalog of holiday standards. Lewis produced the album with Richard Jay-Alexander, with Jeremy Katz executive producing.
Mr. Lewis is known for his many stage and screen credits. One of his major accolades include making history as the first African American to play the role of the Phantom in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. His other stage credits include but are not limited to LES MISERABLES, THE LITTLE MERMAID and PORGY AND BESS. You may have also seen him earlier this year in NBC's Emmy winning broadcast of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: LIVE IN CONCERT, opposite John Legend. Much to the delight of theater music fans, Lewis' Christmas album features tracks that pay homage to his life on the stage, with selections like "Bring Him Home" and "Home" from LES MISERABLES and THE WIZ, respectively.
Even though it's been sung many times, many ways, Norm zealously covers the classic "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)". Another classic he takes on is "The Little Drummer Boy". His rendition is really refreshing, featuring distinctive and modern drum and piano arrangements. As classic as some of these tracks may be, Norm really has a way of taking ownership over them. Another example of taking such liberties over these songs is his version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer". This one is recorded with his cousin, Pastor Bobby Lewis. Their complementary voices create a rendition that is bursting with life. They somehow have made the already catchy tune somehow even catchier.
This album exudes warmth, and is sure to light up the holiday season. Norm's voice is perfectly suited for these tracks, in which he not only performs impeccably, but also infuses with such joy. It's almost like you can hear the smile in his voice as he croons. The recording captures the essence of the holiday spirit, while also showcasing Lewis' cheery personality. Those two combined qualities make for an incredibly merry listen. This album is sure to be one of your favorite things this holiday season. Buy, listen or get more info on Norm's newest release here!
Album cover photo by Peter Hurley