Written By: Philip Barton Edited By: Rebecca Blake
Right about now the snow is starting to fall, the highways are promptly turning into ice rinks and the local department stores are playing all the old Christmas classics much too early. December is soon upon us, a time filled with shovelling driveways, 100 km/h winds, and power outages; yes, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are well aware of the cruel mistress called winter. With all the negativity that this time of year brings, there are some things that make this season special, one of those things is music. Nothing is better than watching a ten-year-old boy butcher “Jingle Bells” in a Christmas pageant or watching a family member try to drunkenly belt out “Run, Run Rudolph”. Musical couple Ian Foster and Nancy Hynes are hoping to brighten your holidays in the same way with their new album “A Week in December” releasing November 23rd.
Nancy and I have been talking about a Christmas record for a few years now, but this year felt like the right time
– Ian Foster
Making The Album
Ian Foster is a world-class singer-songwriter with accolades including SOCAN Songwriter of the Year nominations, a lyric finalist for the International Songwriting Competition (Nashville, TN) and many more. Over the years he had built a buzz around himself but there was always one person beside him through it all; Nancy Hynes.
“Nancy has been backing me up with harmonies since my 2011 album ‘The Evening Light’ but, her involvement in the regular live show and her knowledge of and passion for Christmas music meant that, right from the start, this would be a duo record. Hence the “Ian Foster and Nancy Hynes” billing on the cover.
There are two originals on the album: ‘Old Christmas Day’ and the title track ‘A Week in December’. It’s a song about those who come home for a week in December and all the emotions that follow. It felt like the right title for an album that spans the various moods that come with Christmas.” Said Foster
Hynes is a spellbinding singer and remarkable performer. Foster always knew he would make a full album with Hynes, and her love of Christmas made it an easy choice on what to work on together. Nancy shared her thoughts on the album.
“This album we share lead vocals a bit more and I even sing a couple on my own with Ian accompanying. I was able to collaborate a bit more on song choice and arrangements for this record. As a life-long Christmas song lover, I had a great time! There were unexpected moments like the inevitable recording in our shorts at the height of summer for a Fall release – that was interesting for getting into the Christmas spirit.”
Christmas memories are a big part of the season. We all remember receiving that gift we never thought we would receive or a family member who came to visit you hadn’t seen in years. Yes this the time of year where magic can happen, Foster & Hynes shared some of their yuletide tales with us.
“I actually started playing music on one Christmas Day. That year, I kept going into Radio Shack to play all the keyboards until they told me to stop, so my parents bought me a keyboard for Christmas. I learned 2 Beatles songs that day from a book that came with the keyboard via stickers with the note names you could stick on the keys. Took lessons soon after, and the rest is history!” Said, Foster
“One of my favourite childhood Christmas memories was when I was around 14. I was a big hockey fan – GO HABS GO!. I was the girl who instead of Backstreet Boys posters had hockey player posters on her walls. I was, literally, a card-carrying member of the Habs fan club (I was super cool, as you can imagine!). This particular Christmas all the family gifts were open and wrapping paper was being gathered up to be thrown away when my Dad reached into the middle of the tree and pulled out an envelope saying, “What’s this?”. He handed it to me as it had my name on it. I opened it to find an invitation to join my Dad in Montreal for a Canadien’s game in January. I cried…that’s right, I cried. It was a great moment and the memory of going to that game with my Dad is also wonderful.” Said, Hynes.
Traditions are an important part of the holidays. We all have those weird eccentricities that our parents imparted on us; elf on a shelf, cookies for Santa, etc. Just the other day when I was out shopping a little girl pointed to an Elf on the Shelf in the Dollarama and said to her father “our elf is really mad cause we left him in that plastic container in the garage since Christmas. He might steal our tv this year.”
Yes, traditions are something a lot of us hold dear in our hearts.
Ian talked a little bit about what makes his season bright.
“There’s a household tradition for at least the first, if not the first two Die Hard movies.” Said Ian with a laugh.
“Tibb’s Eve is a big one for us – we always hang at Nancy’s brother’s house. Christmas Day/New Year’s Day, we’ll spend with my folks. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a mix of parties and events around the city: a great time to see many who come home for that week.” Said, Foster.
Spreading the message of Christmas
Ian and Nancy are spreading Christmas cheer across Atlantic Canada starting on Nov 25th with Michelle Noftall’s Christmas concert in Upper Gullies and ending in St. John’s at St Mark’s on Dec 13th. With shows in Wesleyville, Lewisporte, Botwood, Gander and Deer Lake in between, as well as three shows in Nova Scotia, their angelic voices are sure to make your season bright wherever you are. All details and tickets are on www.ianfoster.ca/shows
“A Week in December” will be released Friday, Nov 23rd on streaming services, and available on CD through Ian’s website or at Fred’s Records in St. John’s.