Foster & Hynes: Inside a Week in December

Foster & Hynes: Inside a Week in December

Singer-songwriter duo Ian Foster and Nancy Hynes take readers inside their soon-to-be-classic holiday album A Week in December

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You’ll need more than A Week in December to soak up the magical holiday cheer spread by the fantastic musical duo of Ian Foster and Nancy Hynes.

Foster and Hynes added their names and undeniable talent to the long-list of fantastic Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that have made the holiday season their own. 

Christmas classics

In 2018 Foster and Hynes released A Week in December, a twelve song collection of Christmas classics and new material that is fixing to become a holiday staple here on The Rock. An accompanying tour was so well received that it justified a sophomore slate of gigs in 2019. 

The pair kick off their East coast based Christmas with Ian Foster & Nancy Hynes tour in Glen Morris, Ontario on November 28th, moving through the Maritimes before eight engagements here at home in Newfoundland and Labrador. Tour dates include stops in St. John’s, Brookfield, Deer Lake, Rocky Harbour, Lewisporte, Twillingate, Fogo Island and Botwood from December 12-21st. 

Foster and Hynes sat down with The Newfoundland Herald for a deep dive into A Week in December, sharing inspirations and passions behind their  soon-to-be-classic taste of the holiday season. 

From Ian Foster: 

Good King Wenceslas: So many versions of Good King Wenceslas have a sort of chanty march-like feel that is cool, but can make you focus less on the story and lyric: there’s some real poetry in that piece, and that’s what attracted me to recording it. 

Richard Thompson once said that he goes back to the old songs because ‘the not as great verses got phased out centuries ago.’ There’s a lot of Christmas songs like this one that benefit from that same thing: centuries of evolution mean we get to enjoy so many great verses. 

O Little Town of Bethlehem:  Also on the album, is another such piece. I grew up loving this one, and it was the melody and lyrics that grabbed me. It can sometimes be strange talking about Christmas songs the way we’d talk about regular songs: they seem to be in their own world and genre apart from all other music. Making a Christmas record has the advantage of bringing you back to the song. 

Song for a Winter’s Night: We originally thought that I’d sing Song for a Winter’s Night. I’m a big Lightfoot fan and this is such a sweet contribution to the seasonal catalogue: it’s a winter song in lyric, and manages to feel like one too, whether through performance, melody or arrangement. Once I heard Nancy’s voice on the recording, I knew that her singing the lead was the right way to bring our sound to this popular piece. 

From Nancy Hynes: 

The Friendly Beasts: I learned this Christmas song when I was a small child. I had a little story book that told the story of the stable animals present during the birth of Christ. At the end of the book was printed the music for this song and my mom and I would sing it together. 

Once I was too old for the book we still sang the song every year. It’s such a sweet song with a pretty melody but I rarely have heard it sung or recorded, so when Ian and I were making our list of Christmas songs we were considering for the album I added this one. It meant so much to me to get to add it to our little collection of songs and I remember so fondly that part of my childhood whenever we perform it. It’s just one of those songs that makes my heart glad. 

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: Judy Garland! Do I need to say anything more?! Her version of this song in Meet Me in St. Louis is so beautiful and emotional I could cry just thinking about it let alone hearing it. It has long been one of my favourite Christmas songs and not just her version but many others. It’s such a beautiful wish to be with those that mean the most to you during the holidays and, I think, to value that year round – “Through the years we all we be together, if the fates allow” – COME ON! This song is all nostalgia and longing and beauty. How could I not love it? When I sing it in our live shows I always take a minute to thank the audience for being there with us for that moment and that we truly are thankful for them. And so, have yourself a merry little Christmas! 

For a detailed list of tour dates, Foster’s fantastic If and When Podcast and more visit ianfoster.ca

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