5 Day Advent of Songs – Day 5 Human Nature ft. Jessica Mauboy

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Leroy Anderson was an orchestral composer and musical arranger who lived in the Boston area and had previously played with the Boston Pops Orchestra, when he wrote Sleigh Ride during a heatwave in July 1946 while staying at a cottage with his wife in Woodbury Massachusetts. Below – Composer Leroy Anderson.

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Arthur Fiedler premiered the song with the Boston Pops as an instrumental piece, and in 1950 Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics, and the song became a Christmas classic. Like many songs associated with Christmas, Sleigh Ride does not make any specific reference to Christmas, but the seasonal imagery of a North American” wintery fairy land”,rosy cheeks”, and a sleigh as favored by Santa Claus, imbue the song with great seasonal appeal. The original lyrics included the line “Like a picture print by Currier and Ives” which referred to a printmaking firm who produced some of the best hand-coloured lithographs of the 19th century, but more contemporary versions of the song often abbreviate the lyrics and omit the reference to Currier and Ives.

The definitive rock and roll version of this song was by The Ronettes on the album A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector in 1963, which abbreviated the lyrics, included the sounds of a horse whinnying at the intro and outro to the song and included the chorus lines “Ring-a-ling-a-ling, ding-dong-ding”, which were all part of the exuberant Wall of Sound technique deployed by Phil Spector.  Below Human Nature Then and Now.

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Human Nature are Australia’s most successful harmony vocal group, Toby Allen, Phil Burton, and brothers Andrew and Mike Tierney came from choral backgrounds to embrace doo wop, and the cadences of such Motown greats as The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and The Temptations. Mike Tierney’s plaintive tenor, Phil Burton’s gutsy baritone, Toby Allen’s resonant bass and  Andrew Tierney’s soulful baritone, came to characterize the many hits of Human Nature as they segued through such genres as boyband pop, blue-eyed soul, power ballads, and all featuring their intricate counter-harmonies, and later their stylishly choreographed stagecraft. The group relocated to Las Vegas in 2009 and impressed with their debut performance at the Imperial Palace Casino, and later commenced a lengthy tenure at the Sands Showroom in the Venetian Casino, where they have continued to wow the denizens of Fremont Avenue by taking back to the Americans the songs that they had already invented, in Motown’s Detroit and New York’s Brill Building, fifty years before. Below the luminous Jessica Mauboy.

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ARIA Hall of Fame inductees in 2019, they were joined by a new indigenous star on the scene in Jessica Mauboy at Sydney’s Carols In The Domain in 2013. Jessica had secured the runner-up position in the 2006 series of Australian Idol and after a brief stint with the Young Divas, blazed a trail of solo success with hit albums and singles, and a support slot on Beyonce’s I Am …World Tour. Her solo sound palette of urban grooves, R&B, skittering beats, and airy synths, complemented her assured vocals, which were on display here when she embraced the yuletide frivolity and sheer joy of Christmas, joining Human Nature in a lively, memorable rendition of Sleigh Ride.  

Human Nature and Jessica Mauboy reprise a track they recorded on Human Nature’s The Christmas Album from 2013.

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