A Christmas Cornucopia
One of the most successful, iconic and talented artists of the late 20th century is back – and back like you’ve never heard her before.
On November 15th 2010, Annie Lennox releases her sixth solo album. A Christmas Cornucopia is a collection of new, inspired interpretations of 11 traditional festive songs, rounded out by a new Lennox composition, Universal Child, available digitally from 12th October.
“All the income that I earn from Universal Child will be paid to the Annie Lennox Foundation.” The Annie Lennox Foundation raises money for projects supporting and educating women and children in Africa with HIV/AIDS.
“I’ve known these songs, these carols all my life, I’ve sung them since I was little,” says the songwriter and singer of The Holly And The Ivy, Silent Night, The First Noel and other, less-widely-known songs such as Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant, and Lullay Lullay. “ They’re just in me. They’re a huge part of my life. So it’s not an arbitrary selection. Those relationships with those pieces of music were there intrinsically before I approached the recording.”
The music on the album was mostly played by Lennox, in collaboration with co producer Mike Stevens, and recorded in his southwest London studio – at the bottom of his garden. But to achieve the resonance and vibrancy that were integral to Lennox’s ideas for these re-energized reboots, the pair also worked with a 30-piece orchestra at Pinewood Studios. And they travelled further afield too: to South Africa, to record with the African Children’s Choir, a remarkable organization with which impassioned campaigner and activist Lennox has long had a relationship.
“There are 34 different choirs. They’re like a big extended family – the people who work with them, their careers, are called aunties and uncles. And it’s so precious – if you asked them, as we did with these eight and nine year olds, ‘how is your life different now that you’re in the choir?’ They would say things like, ‘Now I get really good food to eat.’ Or, ‘Now I wear nice clothes.’
“I had met them several times before, through 44664 (Nelson Mandela’s HIV AIDS foundation) – we had this ongoing connection, and I felt that if I was to record any children’s voices it had to be theirs.”
A Christmas Cornucopia is no saccharine packaged selection box. As befits its title, it offers an abundance of songs – drawn from British, French and German traditions – and a host of ideas. On Lullay Lullay, “a lullaby I’ve known for years and the darkest carol I think,” Lennox draws direct links between the Nativity and the plight of Africa’s child soldiers. “Lullay Lullay alludes to the killing of first-born boy children by King Herod… and going back more deeply into the story of the song, I kept getting images of child soldiers in my head…The violation of children is endemic in many so places. Even though this carol is ancient, the brutality of the subject matter is just as relevant today.
Vibrant but vintage, classic and contemporary, glorious but with a polemical edge – notably in Universal Child – A Christmas Cornucopia also marks the beginning of Annie Lennox’s relationship with Universal/Island.
“The Island team were so enthusiastic, and so excited to be working with me, and I was blown away that they felt like that. It feels very energized, and fresh and new. And that’s a great feeling for me.”