Difference Media recording artist and one of Southern Gospel's most lauded soloists, Ivan Parker, has recently release Christmas Dreaming. Produced by Garry Jones (Canton Junction, Brian Free), the collection offers a nostalgic take on six timeless holiday favorites and four beloved carols.
Parker's signature vocals are showcased atop big band horns, jazz piano riffs and lush orchestrations as he seamlessly delivers a range of Christmas classics, from "There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays" and "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "What Child Is This," among others.
Serving as lead vocalist for the iconic quartet Gold City from 1983-1993-where he recorded his signature #1 hit, "Midnight Cry"- Ivan Parker's acclaimed solo career now spans more than 20 years. He has garnered 31 Singing News Fan Awards, highlighted by 12 Favorite Male Vocalist honors, while his #1 Southern Gospel radio singles include "Hit The Ground Running" and "I Choose." As a solo artist, Parker has released 16 recordings, five DVDs and has been featured in 32 best-selling Gaither Homecoming videos. His critically-acclaimed Difference Media debut, Dancing in the Rain, released in 2016.
Q: Ivan, thanks for doing this interview with us. What inspired you to record a new Christmas album?
I wanted to record an album that represented the spirit of Christmas morning and the peace that brings us closer together during the holidays. With the chaos in the world, it was important for me to have songs about love, peace and the restoration of joy. I wanted to get back to what the season is all about- the real reason for Christmas-Jesus, our true Hope.
Q: What were some of the highlights for you while you were making this album?
This album was many years in the making, so a highlight was seeing a longtime dream fulfilled. And being able to work with my good buddy and producer, Garry Jones, made it even better. I also enjoyed revisiting this nostalgic style of Christmas music from our past. I'm so pleased that this album turned out just like I dreamed it would.
Q: While you were looking for Christmas songs, what were your criterion in choosing the songs to cover?
I wanted this album to have a different sound, one that is set apart from traditional gospel music. I focused on choosing music that not only meant something to me personally but encompassed the crooner style like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby-the type of Christmas music I listened to as a child. It was important for me for the music to have that big band feel and orchestration, as well as pointing people back to Christ.
Q: I have read that many of the songs remind you of your family at Christmas while growing up. What was Christmas like at your home while you were growing up?
I grew up in a small Pentecostal church and Christmastime centered around most of these songs, reminding us of our Lord and Savior as He was born to save the world. Spending quality time with family and friends was very important. It was a peaceful home filled with love.
Q: How do you celebrate Christmas now?
Much the same way I did when I was young- spending time with my family and my grandkids while remembering the true meaning of the season. Enjoying the Christmas lights with my wife Teresa and watching my family enjoy this special time of the year is so meaningful to me.
Q: Tell us more about the song "Christmas Dreaming"?
From the start of the recording process, this tune has really stuck with me. It has such a classic feel and it set the pace for the entire record. Garry did a phenomenal job putting some new touches to an old song with his arrangement and orchestration, while keeping that timeless vocal feel.
Q: What does Christmas mean to you personally?
It represents the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, most of all. A time of comfort for the Christian family that includes celebration, peace, togetherness, love and joy.