In a career spanning five decades, producer-musician-songwriter David Foster has virtually become a brand name in himself. After making his name in bands like Skylark and Airplay, the Canadian multi-hyphenate contributed as sideman, writer and arranger to albums by George Harrison, Diana Ross, Donna Summer and Earth Wind and Fire; he won one of his sixteen Grammy Awards for co-writing that band’s “After the Love is Gone.” Beginning in the 1980s, he launched a solo career and also established himself as a marquee producer for artists as diverse as The Tubes, Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Chicago. Today, he heads up the venerable Verve Music Group. The Foster oeuvre, ranging from R&B to AOR and MOR, has been anthologized in the past, but Starbucks is putting a spin on a “Foster’s greatest hits” CD with a new, exclusive holiday compilation. Merry and Bright samples the holiday music recorded by producer Foster over the years with contributions from artists including Celine Dion, Michael Bublé and Rod Stewart.
Unsurprisingly, Merry and Bright leans heavily on the adult contemporary balladeers that have become Foster’s stock in trade. Michael Bublé kicks off the compilation with Meredith Willson’s classic “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” from the fellow Canadian’s chart-topping 2011 holiday release. Mel Tormé and Robert Wells’ standard “The Christmas Song” is rendered by Celine Dion from her 1998 Grammy-nominated These Are Special Times. Dion shared a duet on that album with Italian crossover tenor Andrea Bocelli, who is featured on two songs here: “O Tannenbaum” and a duet on “Jingle Bells” with Jim Henson’s famous Muppets. A major break for Josh Groban was subbing for Bocelli on a rehearsal of his Dion duet, “The Prayer,” for the 1998 Grammy Awards. Groban became another associate of Foster’s. “Little Drummer Boy” is heard here from Groban’s 2007 quintuple-platinum release Noël, the best-selling album in the U.S. for the entire year.
After the jump: more details including the complete track listing!
Foster’s holiday efforts for Rod Stewart (“Auld Lang Syne”), Mary J. Blige (“This Christmas”), and Wynonna (“Blue Christmas”) are also recognized here, as well as Foster’s own 1993 recording of “Carol of the Bells” from his 1993 various-artists Christmas Album. America’s Got Talent alum Jackie Evancho is heard on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” from the composer’s Requiem. Notably absent, however, is one bona fide contemporary holiday standard composed by Foster, “Grown-Up Christmas List.” The song was introduced by Foster and vocalist Natalie Cole and has subsequently been recorded by Amy Grant, Kelly Clarkson, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and many others.
Surprisingly for a Starbucks release, no liner notes are included here. Merry and Bright is housed in a digipak. This celebration of David Foster’s holiday music is now available now at your local outpost of the coffee retailer.
Various Artists, Merry and Bright (Starbucks B0022051-02, 2014)
- It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
- The Christmas Song – Celine Dion
- Carol of the Bells – David Foster
- Little Drummer Boy – Josh Groban featuring Andy McKee
- This Christmas – Mary J. Blige
- O Tannenbaum – Andrea Bocelli
- Blue Christmas – Wynonna
- Auld Lang Syne – Rod Stewart
- Pie Jesu – Jackie Evancho
- Jingle Bells – Andrea Bocelli featuring The Muppets
Track 1 from A Michael Bublé Christmas, Reprise, 2011
Track 2 from These Are Special Times, Columbia, 1998
Tracks 3 & 7 from The Christmas Album, Interscope, 1993
Track 4 from Noël, Reprise, 2007
Tracks 6 & 10 from My Christmas, Universal, 2009
Track 8 from Merry Christmas, Baby, Verve, 2012
Track 9 from O Holy Night, Syco/Columbia, 2010