Get in the festive spirit with Merry Little Christmas

Arts & Entertainment Community Featured

Ann Holton is planning to have a Merry Little Christmas … show.

The popular local singer/elementary school teacher with the golden voice has recorded a new CD, her second, and is ready to raise the roof at Stellarton’s Sharon St. John United Church on November 24 where she will launch it – together with a few musical friends.

Just in time to get you in the mood for the festive Yuletide season, A Merry Little Christmas show will launch her CD, also titled A Merry Little Christmas, which Holton laughs was actually recorded at Dave Gunning’s studio in Lyons Brook over several hot, sweltering days in July and a couple of days in September.

Holton laughs, she got in the Christmas spirit using “a lot of imagination!”

“Really, I never sing with my eyes closed and I found I was singing with my eyes closed just imagining the winter, the cold, the snow.”

She was inspired to record a Christmas CD, she says, because it’s her favourite time of the year.

“A lot of the songs have special meaning for me and I have a lot of wonderful Christmas memories singing those songs, with my grandmother specifically but with all of my grandparents generally. We have a very musical household. So the Christmas songs have a lot of meaning.”

The show will feature the extensive talents of Holton and some friends who are also on the CD, artists like Ardyth & Jennifer who play the harps and sing, Darren McMullen from the band Coig, guitar player Jeff Torbert from Halifax, and Karen Crowley. Heather Cameron, who is not on the album, will also be a guest. Other much loved local musicians Dave Pos and Dave Gunning also played on the CD.

It was difficult for Holton to narrow down the traditional Christmas songs to include on the CD because she has a lot of favourites. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas has always been a favourite, hence the title.” Silent Night and Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winter’s Night are also on the CD. “Actually, every single song is special to me for some reason,” she laughs.

Holton credits her mother for looking after her three young daughters and her “very understanding husband René (Melong),” who is also a school teacher, for giving her the space she needed to work on this project. “I certainly couldn’t do this without them.”

Holton has devoted a great deal of time to her music. “It was always my goal to do music,” she says. But it’s a very difficult business. “Especially when you are a soprano.”

She earned a bachelor of music at Dalhousie University in Halifax before earning an artist’s diploma, then a masters in voice and literature then a bachelor of education at University of Western Ontario. She came home to teach in 2009.

“I preferred to find a balance between performing and having a steady job,” she smiles. “Fortunately, I love to teach as well so I’m very fortunate to have a job that combines both loves.”

Having said that, she considers herself a singer first and foremost. “Performing is very much who I am. But I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to create a balance in my life and not have to stop doing what I feel like I’m meant to do.”

She met her husband while she was teaching. Now they have a young family, three daughters, and she is currently on maternity leave after the birth of her third daughter Scarlett Rae. Her other children are Maëlle, 5, and Aria, 3.

“I do love Pictou County and it’s a great place to raise your children. And I feel like I have it all right here because I get to sing and teach,” she smiles.

“I am always thankful for the support I get here,” the songstress lauded. “Local artists need the support of their community and I feel very blessed that I have that.”

Being raised in Pictou County, she feels fortunate to have been influenced by a variety of musical powerhouses who have been “wonderful teachers” to her. “Our community provides such a great foundation for young musicians and it’s always important to recognize that and support that as well because not all small communities have that.”

She mentions several music teachers in particular who have influenced her: Donna Hargreaves, David Pos, Janice Alcorn and Jim Wasson, who was her first band teacher. “There are so many great music teachers in our community.”

Holton’s CD is available online at www.annholton.com and will also be available at the concert as well as at Christmas at the deCoste event this weekend. Holton will also be performing on Nov. 25 at the annual Pictou County Christmas Fund telethon.

Tickets are available from the Sharon St. John office and a portion of all ticket sales goes to the church’s capital fund.