When Ken Lavigne needed the innocent voice of an angel to complete his new Christmas album, all he had to do was look across the dinner table.
The well-known local tenor is proud of his newest compilation, Comfort & Joy, which includes the sweet voices of his young children.
“This is my second Christmas album. The first one I did five years ago with a buddy in his basement in three weeks,” he says with a wry chuckle. “I’m sure no real instruments were used and it was made as quickly and cheaply as we could.”
That album was part of a fundraising drive in the singer’s eventually successful campaign to perform in New York’s Carnegie Hall.
“We made so many compromises and so many mistakes in the process of recording that album … but there’s some beautiful moments I’m really proud of, too. I really felt this one should be the full meal deal. I needed to do a proper, seasonal holiday album and I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Recorded with the Vancouver Island Symphony at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre with the finishing touches put on at Duncan’s Woodshop Recording Studio, the album took more than a year in the making.
“The plan was to release it last year, but I got sick with that awful cold and cough.” It was some four months until he could sing again.
“I had to cancel Christmas last year – it was really hard on me to pull the plug on so many projects I’m so passionate about,” Lavigne says.
By June he was “back in the saddle wearing Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian t-shirts, recording Christmas tunes.”
With a little tinsel tossed around the room and some mood lighting added to invoke the spirit of the season, Lavigne says the mixing went well until he realized one song needed a little something more.
“There is one special track that was not planned. I was doing Away in a Manger, which is a beautiful lullaby and I realized it needed a childlike innocence which I am too old and ornery to evoke,” he jokes.
He asked his 10-year-old daughter Grace to join him in the studio. “She has a marvelous voice and no desire to be a professional singer but she has perfect pitch,” he says, pride rising in his voice. “I was totally blown away. This kid has no feeling of nervousness or anxiety, she was just perfect in one take … I was schooled by my 10 year old – having her featured on the track is magical.”
Along with Grace, his nine-year-old daughter Lucy and wife Alice are featured in Silent Night. The only one missing from the Lavigne family album is five-year-old Geordie. “He’s way too unpredictable. He likes to bang on things, I think he’ll be a drummer,” Lavigne says.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Lavigne is revving up for another wild career ride.
“A new project I’m working on is as big, if not bigger, than Carnegie Hall five years ago is a performance at the Sydney Opera House.”
A fundraising campaign has begun and he is even giving a lucky fan the chance to accompany him on the journey.
“We have a draw for people to go to Australia to watch the show to encourage people to donate,” he says. They are also organizing tours for fans to travel to Australia for the event, tentatively scheduled for July 2015.
The biggest coup for his latest plan includes coverage of the Sydney concert by the Public Broadcasting Service.
“It’s great to bite off more than you can chew,” he says. “You’re never sure what you’re capable of until you explore your boundaries.”
Home for Christmas
Dec. 8 with the
BC Boys Choir