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Archive for the ‘Award Winning Music’ Category

The 54th GRAMMY® Award Winners in some categories were released before the televised presentation held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 12, 2012. If you want to see results of your favorite artist or genre, all categories for GRAMMY® Award winners and nominees will be shown when they are released.

Pat Metheny won a GRAMMY® Award in the New Age Music category for his What’s It All About album. Selected best out of five albums total in the new age music category, Pat Metheny’s 19th GRAMMY® award was selected by voting members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

The GRAMMY® Awards, inaugurated in 1959, was formed to recognize artists for their achievements in the music recording industry. Andreas Vollenweider’s Down To The Moon has the honor of being the first new age artist to win a GRAMMY® in the New Age category in 1986. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences had earlier classified the award as Best New Age Recording.

The World Music Genre category was first initiated in 1991, when Grateful Dead member Mickey Hart won an award for his Planet Drum album.

While the New Age Music Genre and some others only have an award category for Best New Age Album, maybe someday more categories like Best New Artist and Best New Age Song will be added, and included in the televised broadcast.

Visit PatMetheny.com to sample or purchase. Sample every nominee’s album on the article I wrote titled 54th GRAMMY® Nominees; Best New Age Album. If you want to read more about NARAS history, you can visit the Wikipedia page for GRAMMY® Award for Best New Age Album.

Photos are courtesy patmetheny.com & grammy.com.

New Year’s Day 2012 symbolizes another brand new beginning for everyone. Knowing this, I can assure you many artists are beginning, or are contemplating their new albums for 2012. As the year progresses, it will be a privilege to keep you informed about the best new age music albums with my review and interview publications.

Hello everyone, my name is John P. Olsen. In my role as review publicist and site host for New Age Music World, I have sampled some of the best new age songs and albums music artists worldwide have produced last year. Like previous years, I have had the opportunity to write review publications for a proportionate number of the best new albums released in 2011. Today I am pleased to present my recommendation for the 12 best new age music albums I have sampled or reviewed in 2011.

When it comes to new age music, I can tell you many of the popular artists I write about have produced some of the best new age music to date! For me, it takes only a moment to recall the collective number of excellent new releases public relations persons, music promoters, and new age artists sent to me for a review during 2011.

While true I couldn’t review every CD or MP3 album from 2011, I have listened to every release sent to me and many more, so I am confident of my assessment in regards to the overall quality artists have produced this past year. In fact I am certain most, if not every new age promoter and review publicist would express a similar, if not identical viewpoint.

Every artist has given their best in 2011, and so begins the process of determining who will win the various best album awards by high profile organizations like the GRAMMYS® or Billboard magazine.

Finding the best new age albums for your listening experience is even easier in 2012, thanks to the internet and online stores like Amazon and iTunes, where you have easy access to sample or purchase your favorite music in either CD album or MP3 formats. Similarly, online internet radio and television radio stations make finding new music you can call your favorite a relatively easy task.

The GRAMMY® Awards, Billboard Charts, Independent Music Awards or Zone Music Reporter is a great source for discovering some of the most popular music available today.

Regardless of whether a top album award is determined by voting members, album sales, popular choice, online radio airtime or broadcaster votes, each organization is an excellent source to discover some of the best new music available.

Likewise, I am confident you will find some of my January 1, 2012 recommendations made today about the best albums from 2011 will be included in various top album awards ceremonies later this year.

My Best New Age Music Albums in 2011 recommendation is listed in alphabetical order of the artist tags at my site, using each artist’s first name. If you are interested in finding popular music from some of today’s top artists, my 12 best albums publication includes direct links so you may sample or purchase my music recommendations at the artist’s website or on their music page at Amazon.com.

Best New Age Music Albums 2011;

1. Damayanti by 2002.

Damayanti is the newest release from 2002 featuring 10 celestial song melodies in the graceful style only 2002 can produce. You can tell the beautiful songs on this quality orchestration is a 2002 production, but this is a compliment about 2002, who made the list of top new age artists in Billboard Magazine’s Year in Review, December 2003 issue.

Damayanti does embrace a magnificent change in tonal atmosphere from earlier albums, and supports the cinematic aspects of their work that have made every one of 2002’s music releases special. Based on a legendary love story, Damayanti features instrumentals of Randy Copus performing piano, electric cello, lead guitar and bass guitar.

Pamela Copus performs flutes, harp, keyboards and a WX5 wind instrument. Their young daughter Sarah Copus sang some vocals on Damayanti, and I read Sarah is again going to be a vocalist on the new album from 2002 entitled Believe.

The heart and spirit of 2002, Randy and Pamela Copus are nearing a significant milestone in their music careers by a forthcoming 20 year anniversary as the award winning, 2002 music duo. After having charted at Billboard with 9 of their albums, and sharing the limelight at Billboard as equals with artists like Enya, Mannheim Steamroller, Jim Brickman and Yanni, Randy and Pamela Copus of 2002, truly do have many reasons to give pause, reflect, and celebrate their 20th year as esteemed new age artists.

Visit 2002music.com to sample or purchase Damayanti by 2002, or find at Amazon.com. Read our interview and full review on my pages for 2002.

2. And Love Rages On! – by AOMusic.

And Love Rages On! – by AOMusic is a brilliant world fusion release with 9 colorful songs of instrumentals and vocals. AOMusic shares a genuine message of unity on their 2011 release with an album title proclaiming – and Love Rages On! It is on this very unique release where ethnic harmonies of children and boys choirs from four continents are united with superb world music rhythms and contemporary instrumentals.

The principal members of AOMusic are Richard Gannaway, Jay Oliver, and lead singer Miriam Stockly. Founding artist Richard Gannaway sings vocals and plays stringed instruments. Jay Oliver performs keyboards and synthesizers. Miriam Stockly is a beautiful vocalist in – and Love Rages On!

During the combined careers of the three artists, they have worked with popular groups like; Sheryl Crow, The Eagles, Queen, George Michael, Jimmy Buffett, Celine Dion, Bonnie Raitt, and Tina Turner. This all-star celebrity lineup is a partial list, but it does give you an idea of the high level of quality Richard, Jay, and Miriam are recognized for.

The children and boys choirs featured on And Love Rages On! – are youth choirs from Africa, America, China and the People’s Republic of Georgia. Additional key members are Sandeep Chowta who plays Indian flute tracks, and regular contributing artists Andy Georges (strings), George Bernardo (percussion), and Doug Lunn (bass guitar).

Integrating world fusion music with lively world-beat rhythms and select children’s choirs from four continents, the heartfelt singing by children from varying countries have helped unify and transform this exclusive world fusion release into something very special!

Visit aomusic.com to sample or purchase – and Love Rages On by AOMusic, or at Amazon.com. Read my full album review on my pages for AOMusic.

3. Autumn Sky by Blackmore’s Night.

Autumn Sky is a new album from the legendary renaissance inspired new age and folk Rock touring band Blackmore’s Night. Debuting at #1 on Billboard’s New Age Chart, Autumn Sky has 15 classic songs of Blackmore’s Night best music to date. Traditional instruments of keyboards, violin, woodwinds, acoustic and electric guitars are integrated with hurdy-gurdy, mandolin, vintage instruments, and elegant vocals by Candice Night.

Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night are GRAMMY® nominated artists who are the core essence of Blackmore’s Night. Autumn Sky serves as a platform to accentuate Cadence Night’s talents as a vocalist, along with ancient and modern instrumental fanfare for which this group has become internationally famous.

The entire seven member troupe of Blackmore’s Night performs in dramatic fashion by wearing renaissance attire during their popular concerts, fairs, and festival events.

The international success for Blackmore’s Night is truly impressive. The elite musical focus they have engraved for themselves has resulted in an enormous following in North America, South America, Europe and Japan. Their melodies have gained crossover prosperity by the enchanting lyrical vocals and fascinating instrumental music that often contain the metrical structure of music dating back to the seventeenth century.

Blackmore’s Night is a true champion by their consistent ability to create transcending music that varies with every new album they have produced. This bold renaissance inspired band which transports progressive music into contemporary times is a model for success, past, present and future. Blackmore’s Night fans will be pleased to know Ritchie and Candice are working on a follow-up album to Autumn Sky.

Visit blackmoresnight.com to sample or purchase Autumn Sky by Blackmore’s Night, or find at Amazon.com. Read the full review on my pages for Blackmore’s Night.

4. Reflections by Candice Night.

The Reflections album is an excellent solo release from Candice Night, lead vocalist of the legendary renaissance inspired new age and folk rock touring band Blackmore’s Night. Candice Night’s worldwide presence as the popular lead singer and songwriter for Blackmore’s Night has proven to be the perfect overture for her exclusive solo release.

GRAMMY® nominated Candice Night, who is the recipient of numerous gold records and prestigious awards, along with husband Ritchie Blackmore, find musical inspiration from the beauty of nature. You will find Candice Night’s vocal and lyrical point of view is even more a focus of attention on Reflections.

Candice Night’s new solo album, made of her own creation is popular music produced in a more contemporary, crossover theme from the renaissance motif of Blackmore’s Night. One constant characteristic of her solo release is her incomparable vocal and lyrical qualities, which turn out to be an expert expression throughout her first new release.

One cannot talk about Candice Night without pointing out her leading role as singer in the forefront on Blackmore’s Night albums. The songs on Reflections are diverse in many ways from the renaissance themed Blackmore’s Night albums as one would expect.

Best of all, Reflections reveals another aspect of Candice Night, and her many talents for producing popular crossover music in a contemporary theme you are sure to love. Candice Night’s Reflections is an online radio favorite worldwide, and Reflections made #4 at Zone Music Reporter’s Top 100 Chart during the month of October, 2011.

Visit candicenight.com to sample or purchase Reflections by Candice Night, or find at Amazon.com. Read the full review on my pages for Candice Night.

5. Echoes of Creation by David Arkenstone.

Echoes of Creation is a masterful 10 song soundtrack from the award winning instrumental composer David Arkenstone. On Echoes of Creation, the three times GRAMMY® nominated musician David Arkenstone teamed up with Emmy Award winning film director Jan Nickman. The inspiring nature film by Jan Nickman, in unison with David Arkenstone’s magnificent instrumental soundtrack is an absolute masterpiece!

Diverse in his song writing aptitude, David Arkenstone, and his always popular music collection is an array of ambient, Celtic, contemporary instrumental, world, electronic, and new age fusion.

It is this unique characteristic of David Arkenstone’s ingenious songwriting abilities and extensive discography which practically guarantees there is a favorite album for just about everyone, including Echoes of Creation.

Many of you may have watched the televised Echoes of Creation film and soundtrack since the film aired nationwide on Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) in 2011. In this case, the Echoes of Creation soundtrack is a beautifully articulated cinematic music score I am certain nearly everyone will appreciate.

David Arkenstone’s popularity as a favorite artist is apparent when you consider he has sold over one million albums, and has been listed in the Top 10 Billboard New Age charts twenty times. It is clear David Arkenstone was the perfect choice for Jan Nickman’s nature inspired film. The collection of songs on Echoes of Creation is a sure winner, and an easy decision to make in my best new age albums recommendation.

Visit davidarkenstone.com to sample or purchase Echoes of Creation by David Arkenstone, or you can find at Amazon.com. Read our interview and album review on my pages for David Arkenstone.

6.  Groove Tribe by David & Steve Gordon.

Groove Tribe is the Gordon Brother’s new groove/chill out album featuring 11 songs in a vibrant blend of electronic music with ethnic percussion rhythms miles apart from many other forms of multicultural world music. Featuring electronic groove and chill out music with world drums and musical instruments, each of the 11 songs on Groove Tribe convey the relaxing yet vibrant trademark quality in which David and Steve Gordon are famous.

David and Steve Gordon are two prominent names people identify as one of the most prolific music team in today’s international music scene. After founding their esteemed Sequoia Records label 28 years ago, the award winning Gordon Brothers have earned the reputation of legendary music producers.

Groove Tribe has the calming metrical rhythms and vibrant electronic harmonies that keep the Gordon brothers in the forefront of new age and world music styles. It likewise highlights their ability to fashion a wide selection of popular music in a variety of sub-genres. The Gordon brother’s new album is an exotic assortment of smooth song melodies in step with ethnic percussion rhythms so it’s no wonder the songs on Groove Tribe are presently a bestselling choice for many people.

David and Steve Gordon’s compilation albums are another significant component of their work together during their role as award winning DJs, which showcase top artists from around the globe. Selecting the best international talents, top quality artists on Sequoia Record’s playlist lineup can be found on many of the Gordon Brother’s compilation releases.

Visit sequoiarecords.com to sample or purchase Groove Tribe by artists David and Steve Gordon, or find at Amazon.com. Read album reviews on my pages for David and Steve Gordon.

7. Songs From Before by Fionnuala Sherry.

Songs From Before is Fionnuala Sherry’s first solo release, and her personal revision on some of Ireland’s most beloved melodies. Born of Irish heritage, Fionnuala Sherry is an extraordinary violinist extensively known as the fairer side of the internationally acclaimed music duo Secret Garden.

Songs From Before is a contemporary instrumental album with 10 songs, including some previously unreleased original compositions that highlight her expertise as a professional violinist and vocalist. Her solo release became an instant success, and was chosen #3 in the Top 25 at Echoes in August 2011.

Fionnuala Sherry’s solo release Songs From Before in entirety is a moving experience and inspirational beacon showing her in a new light, yet remains true to character in regards to the remarkable violin melodies for which she is famous.

The overall sound quality on Songs From Before is rich and opulent, uplifting at one moment to deeply poignant in another. I felt every song has an elegant tenor of sophistication and depth without being overly classical. Fionnuala’s modern revisions of Irish song melodies capture traditional moments with new-found charm and charisma. Fionnuala Sherry is a longtime RTE Concert Orchestra member, and has performed with top artists including The Chieftains, Sinead O’Connor and Bono of U2 fame.

While Fionnuala Sherry’s fame and success as a partner with Norwegian composer and pianist Rolf Løvland of Secret Garden has earned them admiration by millions of people as a music team, Fionnuala Sherry can claim a brilliant success of her own by the release of her first solo album Songs From Before. Rolf and Fionnuala together have a beautiful new Secret Garden album entitled Winter Poem.

Visit fionnualasherry.com to sample or purchase Songs From Before by Fionnuala Sherry, or you can fnd at Amazon.com. Read our interview and full review on my pages for Fionnuala Sherry.

8. Spectrum by Hennie Bekker.

Spectrum is a wonderful collection of 14 songs pointing to the diverse abilities of a world-class musician. Spectrum is a relaxing album that accents the entire range and variety of award winning Hennie Bekker. The highly prolific Bekker has composed and produced over 60 albums, and over a thousand compositions and collaborations.

Hennie Bekker is a multi-platinum artist who has spent his entire music career exploring a wide array of genres, from new age, electronic, world music, and acclaimed nature soundscape albums. His work with Dan Gibson’s Solitudes – Exploring Nature with Music series was so popular the albums achieved gold, platinum, double and triple platinum status.

Hennie Bekker is also one of three leading members of the techno/dance group BKS. The group BKS won a prestigious Juno Award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), which is the equivalent to an American GRAMMY® award. You can include film scores, television and radio recordings in his long list of achievements as a musician. Presently, Spectrum is the #1 album in Zone Music Reporter’s Top 100 Chart for November 2011.

Spectrum – An Anthology Of Relaxing Instrumental Music is like a “best of Hennie Bekker album” by the wide range of melodic songs on this impressive album. Of the 14 songs total, eleven songs are recordings selected out of his rather extensive music collection. Hennie Bekker from Canada, who was born and raised in Africa and lived in England, brings a world of experience to his music. Take a minute to sample Spectrum, and the world-class music of Hennie Bekker.

Visit henniebekker.com to sample or purchase Spectrum by Hennie Bekker, or find at Amazon.com. Read the full album review on my pages for Hennie Bekker.

9. Survival & Other Stories by Jon Anderson.

Survival & Other Stories is a concept album from music celebrity Jon Anderson, former front man, and lead vocalist of the group YES. The concept album has a collection of 11 songs of wonderful orchestrations unified with Jon Anderson’s heartfelt vocal energies, beautifully articulated as optimistic, upbeat and positive.

Jon Anderson’s influence and starring role in music over five decades is legendary. One can say Jon’s divine voice and lyrical message is an unforgettable story people want to hear.

It is estimated over 38 million albums were sold during his years as the dynamic lead vocalist with YES, and his successful solo career to date. Entertaining millions of people during his lengthy career, Jon Anderson without a doubt has a wonderful story to share with the world.

Jon Anderson began the concept for Survival & Other Stories after he nearly perished from a serious illness. This unique project began to take shape after his recovery. It was during this time period when Jon published a written message on his website inviting artists to submit their music for his new Survival & Other Stories project.

Select musicians from all corners of the world sent their ethnic music over the internet for consideration, and the genesis of something beautiful was born. Jon then mixed, composed, and co-produced with wife Jane Anderson, the first of three concept albums.

While Jon Anderson will always be recognized as the legendary lead singer and key lyricist of the progressive rock band YES, Jon Anderson’s prolific music career continues to be as inspiring and significant today as it was yesteryear. Jon has been performing concert tours with former YES member, and acclaimed keyboardist Rick Wakeman, in support of their live album The Living Tree in Concert Part 1. Jon is also on tour with numerous live solo concerts scheduled for 2012.

Visit jonanderson.com to sample or purchase Survival & Other Stories by Jon Anderson, or you can find at Amazon.com. Read our interview together and my album review for Survival & Other Stories on my pages for Jon Anderson.

10. Unconditional by Marc Enfroy.

Unconditional is a cinematic piano release from pianist Marc Enfroy featuring 10 classic songs.  Award winning pianist Marc Enfroy created Unconditional in a partnership with Randy and Pamela Copus of 2002, who are another award winning, Billboard Charting band. Unconditional is a passionate musical portrait by the beautiful union of contemporary instrumentals and piano music.

Marc Enfroy’s new release from 2011 is an innovative contemporary instrumental release that was bound to be a success right from its conception. It’s a newly born sound creation you are sure to love.

The attributes of Unconditional are best defined by the fine piano performance from Marc, unified with beautiful performances of flute, strings, bell tones and chorales. Produced by Randy Copus of 2002, Pamela Copus sings vocals, and Jack Chen plays flute, in an exclusive fusion of professional talents.

Marc Enfroy’s music career first emerged after the death of his sister Suzanne Whiting to cancer, but it was from the profound loss of his sister his progressive music legacy arose.

Finding inspiration in memory of Suzanne, Marc proceeded to compose music for the senses, and as it turns out, Marc Enfroy indeed has the natural gift of a true artisan. Empowered by design to take flight, the uplifting composition of inspiring song melodies on Unconditional is the ultimate music experience to celebrate life.

Visit marcenfroy.com to sample or purchase Unconditional by Marc Enfroy, or find at Amazon.com. Read the full review on my pages for Marc Enfroy.

11. Winter Poem by Secret Garden.

Winter Poem is an exciting new release from Secret Garden. The fabulous lineup of 11 songs on Winter Poem is made up of original arrangements from Rolf Løvland. Featuring professional violinist Fionnual Sherry, the mainly vocal instrumental release includes the award-winning Expo Suite Rolf composed for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai China.

Norwegian composer Rolf Løvland and Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry of Secret Garden are a successful music team who has sold over four million albums. Along with the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest award, they have performed before thousands of people worldwide at live concerts covering many countries.

On Winter Poems, Secret Garden preserves their signature sound that has made them an international success, but they have taken a fresh approach on their newest composition by featuring special guest musicians. The outstanding Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry is happily the centerpiece artist, plus Secret Garden’s vibrant new release is special by the inclusion of exceptional Norwegian and Irish musicians.

One guest is dynamic vocalist Moya Brennan from Celtic group Clannad, who sings on song The Dream. Guest vocalist Fionnuala Gill sings on song Mary’s Lament, while Tracey Campbell and Espen Grjotheim perform on song Powered By Nature. Winter Poem also features instrumentals by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Popular music given by a popular music duo is a good indication that you will love every verse of Winter Poem. Secret Garden recently completed a live concert tour in Norway.

Visit secretgarden.no to sample or purchase Winter Poems by Secret Garden, or find at Amazon.com. Read our interview and album reviews on my pages for Secret Garden.

12. Truth Of Touch by Yanni.

Truth Of Touch is a passionate reflection of what Yanni does best, which is to create personal interaction with an audience through his extraordinary music abilities. Famous for his exceptional live concert performances, this time around Yanni’s social interaction is shared with his fans by virtue of his magnificent studio version of 15 songs. The hour long symphony of refined music harmony is an original composition, and fascinating expression from the international superstar Yanni, and his select orchestra.

Yanni is conceivably the greatest influential musician of our time, and Yanni’s exceptional abilities as a gifted composer and keyboardist by are by themselves a true testament to his universal appeal.

When taking into consideration the extraordinary artists and vocalists by his side, the collective inspiration pay tribute to a universal, heartfelt music experience. On Yanni’s Truth Of Touch album the energy and excitement of their performance is palpable.

Yanni – Live at the Acropolis began his historic rise to stardom, and it may have been the first venue where many of you witnessed Yanni’s grand entrance onto the world stage. It is estimated over 500 million people from 65 countries have viewed this top public television fundraising program for the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) alone. Yanni – Live at the Acropolis alone to date has sold 7 million copies worldwide.

Truth Of Touch is an sensational studio composition of pure refinement. The phenomenal caliber of musicians Yanni enlisted on Truth Of Touch is boldly demonstrated on what I feel is Yanni’s greatest electronic and instrumental music composition to date. Yes, we have heard many exceptional new albums and songs in 2011 from a variety of artists, and what better way to close than by recommending one of the best new 2011 albums produced by one of the world’s most exciting international concert artists we identify simply as Yanni.

Visit yanni.com to sample or purchase Truth Of Touch by Yanni, or find at Amazon.com. Read my review and concert information on my pages for Yanni.

This concludes my Best New Age Albums in 2011 recommendations. Later in 2012, I plan to write several feature publications about the various best new age album awards presented by high profile music organizations. Thank you for your visit today, and I invite you to visit New Age Music World again soon.

To find more of the best new age songs and albums in 2011, visit my album reviews page and music awards section.

Cover arts are courtesy of each individual artist. Big Stock Photo copyright – BSoriano – Stuarthe – Edobric – Baloncici.

Al Conti is a GRAMMY® nominated musician people worldwide recognize as a composer with a natural ability for producing some of the most vibrant, story based albums in the new age and world music genres.  Al Conti’s ability to intermingle his story based tales of intrigue into every one of his award winning albums, in part, originates from his life experiences and extensive international travels.

Al Conti is a nominee for the 54th GRAMMY® Awards in the Best New Age Album category, selected for his 2010 album entitled Northern Seas.  Along with Al Conti’s GRAMMY® nomination in the new age genre, Northern Seas was also selected in Amazon’s Top 10 list for Best New Age Albums of 2010.  Earlier albums Scheherazade, Poeta & Shadows have made other “best album of the year” and “top 10 album charts” at other organizations.

Northern Seas is the fourth album from Al Conti, and a fine release that highlights his abilities as composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist.  The storyline on Northern Seas chronicles the ancestral homeland and Nordic heritage of Scandinavia with wondrous glory.  The rich instrumental landscape captures your imagination, and valiantly stands the high ground on this resolute masterpiece aptly named Northern Seas.

Northern Seas features 10 songs in a fascinating blend of new age and world fusion with a Celtic inscription on several songs.  There is a unique atmosphere by using ancient instruments in parity with traditional instruments.  Al and contributing artists create a unique feel blending kantele, harp, hurdy gurdy, pump organ, accordion, and tribal drums with piano, violin, cello, acoustic and electric guitar.

The folklore of Norse traditions brought to the surface by Al Conti is deep, rich, and intriguing while portraying a tale of Norsemen during a time of Viking sovereignty.  Every song on Northern Seas is crisp, clear and refreshing, as if detailing the pristine landscape and panoramic mountain vistas by the deeply spacious tonal qualities.

New Age Music World host John P. Olsen had the opportunity to conduct a December 2011 interview with Al Conti, a 54th GRAMMY® nominee in the Best New Age Album category.  Today we are pleased to present their up-to-date interview to Al Conti’s fans and to our site visitors – several days prior to the New Year 2012.

GRAMMY® Nominated Al Conti Interview;

John Olsen:  Thank you for consenting to my interview, Al.  First I would like to congratulate you on your GRAMMY® nomination for Northern Seas!  This is great news. It always pleases me when I hear an outstanding artist and their work are given the recognition they deserve.  Northern Seas has many fine qualities, many of which were pointed out by a number of positive reviews at your site, AlConti.net.  I was glad to be among those to contribute an album review, and I hope to have conveyed the award-winning potential, and some of the finer aspects of your work in the album review I wrote earlier.

John:  Aside from the fact Northern Seas is in the category for Best New Age Album, I feel Northern Seas is to some extent the most progressive of the five GRAMMY® nominated albums by a variety of instrumental qualities.  Do you agree, and if so, do you feel having a nominated album that varies instrumentally from the rest will work to your advantage?

Al Conti:  Hello John, it is my pleasure to be here with you!  Many reviewers have commented before on how my work is rather different than much of the New Age music available these days.  Some have called my work ‘cutting edge.’  Personally, I feel that New Age music is very rich in its diversity, and my work is a part of that spectrum. Whether my music’s edge works to my advantage or not, I am not sure.

During the nomination process, I have indeed heard from many peers, mostly from other genres, how they found my music to be so different.  I guess it has, in the end, worked to my advantage.  The ironic thing is I never strive to compose music that is different, per se, but just to be true to myself as an artist and simply create what comes from within me.  The rest is all excruciating work!

John:  On Northern Seas you pair old-world instruments of kantele, harp, hurdy gurdy, pump organ, accordion and tribal drums with modern instrumentation of piano, violin, cello, acoustic and electric guitar.  I am familiar with the majority of songs on your earlier albums Scheherazade, Poeta & Shadows, but I would like to know, if this blend of ancient and modern instruments is consistent throughout every one of your four releases?

Al Conti:  Since my album Scheherazade, I’ve been drawn consistently to rediscovering ancient instrumentation, and this also blends very well with the mystical landscapes I like to explore.  People have responded very well to the use of these instruments.  There is also something beautiful to me in bringing instruments and sounds into a modern content.  It feels like I am in some way honoring the past by bringing these instruments into a more contemporary setting.   I am never quite sure what will come out of me musically and I am always challenging myself as an artist with each release.

John:  Would you tell us about the outstanding artists who performed instrumentals with you on your GRAMMY® nominated release?

Al Conti:  I have been blessed to have worked with some amazing people, and continue to do so.  For Northern Seas I wanted to work mostly with local talent, and except for Francesca Genco (vocals), all are Vermont artists.  Among the contributing talent in Northern Seas there is the immensely-talented violinist Hannah Beth Crary, who was truly magnificent to work with and my trusted guitarist and engineer André Maquera.

John:  You also have a team of music professionals you depend on for technical details and final production.  Would you like to mention the people who helped you finalize Northern Seas?

Al Conti:  While I do a big part of an album’s mixing myself as I compose, I depend heavily on André Maquera, of West Street Digital, in Vermont, for the final mixing and mastering on my projects.  I have worked with him since my first release, Shadows, and feel he understands my approach so well at this point as to know how to work with whatever I bring his way.  Mastering is also a very arduous process and my hearing can only handle so much.  Aside from the actual music engineering and recording, I work with a fantastic team of people that help oversee the other aspects of my career, without whom I could not do what I do.

John:  What do you feel are the most positive attributes of Northern Seas?

Al Conti:  I think Northern Seas went in a different direction than my previous album Scheherazade.  I feel it showcases my versatility as a musician and composer.  My audience can hear a more classically-oriented side of me in my album Poeta, a more exotic and sensual one with Scheherazade and a more aggressive and brooding, yet also fun and hopeful side with Northern Seas.

John:  In addition to your GRAMMY® nomination, Northern Seas made the Amazon Top 10 list for Best New Age Albums of 2010, and  many of your earlier releases were also awarded  “best of the year”, “top 10 charts”, and other “best album lists and top 100 charts.”  What do you believe has been the most important influence that has led to your overall successes as an award-winning composer, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist?

Al Conti:  I compose what comes through me, and this changes depending on the project I am working on at any given time.  I tend to go to a certain emotional place when I compose and the right material flows through me.  When a project is finished, it is as if someone has turned the creative faucet off, and nothing else comes through, so I know I am done.  I believe that the key to anyone’s success, especially in this business, is made up of various elements such as what I mentioned above, coupled with hard work, perseverance, gut feeling, luck, timing and fate.

I also believe it is important to follow one’s own path and not be overly influenced by what other artists do.  While there may be a music trend we all follow and music that influences our style, it is good to do what really comes from the heart and not try to imitate someone else. I simply do what I do, surround myself with a magnificent team and we all pull forward in our own way, but in the same direction.

John:  Every one of your new age albums is based a theme or legend and portrays a story.  What is the story based representation or theme behind Northern Seas, and how did you arrive at the concept for Northern Seas?

Al Conti:  Northern Seas is based on Norse mythology.  While my previous album, Scheherazade, was based on the teller of the fantastic Arabian tales, Northern Seas was a little more complicated to nail down as a concept.  I did a tremendous amount of research when the idea for this project first came to me.  I could have based the album on a particular Norse myth, but I felt that there were many important ones that would have been left out.  The album as a concept takes many of the Norse myths and weaves them into one cohesive narrative.

John:  How do you transpose an inspirational or story-based theme into a musical arrangement?

Al Conti:  This is also something that is very hard to describe, because I do not have a specific formula that I follow.  Each project is based on a particular myth or tale.  This already sets the parameters I will work within because each part of the world and its respective culture has a definite music style, which I then follow.

Scheherazade was Middle Eastern; Northern Seas is Nordic, Celtic and Germanic.  But I also do not want to compose an album that is fully regimented by a culture’s musical style and mood, thus I tend to modernize the music to make it more appealing to a Western audience.  As such, I end up with the music I compose, which is peppered with world cultural influences, yet remains primarily New Age.  I do believe my past as an actor also thoroughly influences my approach to my music compositions because I innately tend to approach my music composition as a film.

John:  At your music blog – alconti.blogspot.com – you detail how producing music has changed for you since the earliest years when you first began producing music.  What are some of the changes you have made over the years, and the challenges you face while producing music today?

Al Conti:  Many of the changes are dictated to me by the music industry that I am a part of.  I feel one of the biggest mistakes artists can make is to not accept the fact that the music business is, first and foremost, a business.  Since I came from an acting background, well versed in the complex workings of that business, I simply translated acting to music and brought along with me the same work ethics I had from that part of my life.  I also feel each project I undertake lays the groundwork for the direction of my career.  Because I am also a perfectionist, nothing I compose is ever good enough for me and I always strive to better myself.

John:  Has having your own Shadowside Music label been a major influence with the manner you produce and market your music?

Al Conti:  Absolutely.  I can decide what I want to create without having to answer to someone else’s idea of what I should be creating.  I also have full control over every aspect of my career and creative output.  Because I happen to also be the producer and arranger of my own albums, I can truly follow my gut instinct and move forward from there.  Of course, I knew that the path I chose was plagued with risks and I did not know if these would pay off until they did.

Much like an actor producing and directing his or her own film, producing one’s own album can either make or break you.  For me, luckily, it was the former, not the latter.  It was a great risk, but I took it head on.   I am at a point now in my career where I can honestly say that the path I chose has indeed paid off and I can continue forward knowing I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and that it is working out well.  As people now ask me for advice, I find myself saying, “Hey, my path and how I walked it to this point has worked for me, but it may not work for you at all.”  Thinking of many successful artists, I venture to say you’ll find each got there in very different ways.

John:  Early in life you were determined at a very young age to become an actor.  You appeared in commercials and were an actor in the acclaimed As The World Turns American television series.  By all accounts Al, you had achieved the acting career you envisioned for yourself.  What was the turning point where you decided to change direction to pursue a music career, and how did this change to a new career transpire over the years?

Al Conti:  I do not think any artist will ever say, “Yes, I achieved what I artistically set out to achieve,” because we’re always looking forward to the next creative project.  As an actor, I do not think I ever fulfilled that which I strived to achieve since I was a child, and I believe music has allowed me to express artistically in ways acting did not.  I also came to a place in my life where I did not have the need to play someone else to express myself.  With music, regardless of the project, I am always expressing my truest self through my work, yet I can be an actor at the same time because my projects are pretty much like a film that is being played out musically.

John:  I read you were born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Your grandfather was a concert pianist, and your mother was a classical ballerina.  What are your thoughts – do you believe talents in the arts, in fields like theatre or music, are heredity, or, do you feel non-genetic factors play more of a role with inclinations toward an individual’s profession?

Al Conti:  I cannot honestly say.  I know I was born an artist, which as a child created nothing but problems for me in school.  But because my parents and grandparents (and even beyond that to my extended family) were and are artists in their own way, I was lucky in that they completely encouraged me.  I do, however, believe that we are born with the talents we will hopefully hone throughout our lives, whether you are an artist, teacher, lawyer, social worker or whatever. I tried being other things than an artist and failed miserably.

It was clear to me that I could only work in the arts.  This is why I cringe when parents force their kids to play the piano or do anything else artistic if the child really has little inclination in that direction. It would have been the same for me if, say, my parents had forced me to be right handed while my inclination was to be left handed.  As an actor, I saw some sad things happening with parents who would bring their children into auditions.  Not pleasant!

John:  While living in Argentina, you grew up listening to ethnic music from many parts of the world, plus you have extensively traveled the globe.  Would it be fair to say your music is a vehicle that describes many of your life experiences and international travels?

Al Conti:  I think as artists we take everything we have gathered throughout our lifetime and put it into our work, because what we do comes from the deepest fibers of our beings.  Because I was raised in different cultures, this broadened my horizons culturally.  I innately know how one culture can function differently from another.  When I compose music, based on a certain culture, the way that culture expresses itself deeply affects how I compose.

John:  You have led a diverse life compared to many people.  You now reside in the state of Vermont in the United States.  What is it about the state of Vermont you adore?

Al Conti:  I have always felt at home in Vermont.  It is a state with deep French Canadian roots, which in many ways resembles the culture in which I was raised.  Those cultural roots can still be felt in Vermont.  While I have lived in a few different states in the U.S., Vermont is definitely the only one I have ever felt like calling my home.

John:  I read at – alconti.net – you are currently working on your fifth album.  I would love to release some Al Conti news for your fans and our readers today if possible.  Can you release any information about your newest, fifth album project?

Al Conti:  I usually tend to be very private about what project I am currently working on. I blame my past as a superstitious actor for this!  I never want to jinx the project.  There are also the legal ramifications of my talking about it at such an early stage.  What I can say is that the album’s progress is half way, and I am excited that there are some very well-known guest New Age artists that will be participating in the project.

I can also say that the album will be more on the lines of my previous work Scheherazade, and I think people will be very happy about that, even though it is far from that album’s Middle Eastern theme.  As an artist, I never want to repeat myself musically, so I strive to keep moving forward.  While I know that many people loved Scheherazade, and it would be easy for me to fall back into another Middle Eastern theme, I refuse to do so.  My current project is based on yet another beautiful legend and I will let my audience discover it as the time approaches.  It is tentatively scheduled for release in September 2012.

John:  During your work with humanitarian organizations, you teamed up with television celebrities Kevin Bacon, Jessica Alba, and Shelly Morrison for a charitable benefit.  Can you tell us about your contributions with humanitarian organizations over the years?

Al Conti:  As an artist with a certain level of success, I always feel I need to give back.  Because I have been touched by many situations in my life, I feel like those are the ways I can give back.  Unfortunately, we live in a world that has many, many causes we could rally for, but eventually, one can only do so much.

I have chosen carefully the charities I align myself with.  AIDS, Leukemia and Alzheimer’s, as well as breast cancer, have all affected people I care about.  In my own way, I try to raise awareness about these illnesses.  I find that when people like what you do they are more apt to listen and take notice.  When recently asked by a dear friend and fellow New Age artist about how I felt regarding my GRAMMY® nomination, I replied that I feel like this now allows my heart to give more.  I truly mean that.

John:  I read you are also involved in a wellness organization called The Spa Buzz, an organization that helps spread the message of wellness through activities like their awareness-raising bus tour.  Would you like to tell us about your contributions with The Spa Buzz organization?

Al Conti:  Yes, I was involved with this event as they toured the country promoting a message of health and wellbeing.  This is something my team initially brought to my attention and I agreed to take part in it by lending my music to the project and attending events on the East Coast, because I truly believe people can be healthier, pay more attention to and be in tune with their bodies.  The Spa Buzz did a great job for health awareness, and promoted the way music can contribute to wellness along the way.

John:  You have enjoyed a remarkable career as a musician, Al.  What do you find most rewarding as a professional musician?

Al Conti:  I think, as I mentioned before, the more success I find as a musician, the more I am able to give back to others.  Once I heard a saying that went: “When you get to the top floor, make sure to send the elevator back down for somebody else.”  I never forgot that.  While I do not think I am anywhere close to the top floor, I do believe that with a certain amount of success, there comes a responsibility to give back, and the universe sends our way those who can benefit from what we have to give, and vice-versa.

John:  Thank you again for taking time out for our interview.  I wish the best for you in the 54th Annual GRAMMY® Awards scheduled for Sunday Feb. 12, 2012.  In closing for now, is there anything you want to bring up, or express to your fans and the people who have supported you over the years?

Al Conti:  There are always a few things, for sure.  One is something I always speak of when able to, and that is the sad state of music piracy.  Since I have been involved in the music industry, I have become increasingly aware of the ravages that the illegal download of music is doing to artists worldwide.  Many people do not even realize that they are actually stealing music.  While some do indeed believe that we, as artists, should work for free, most simply do not realize the impact they have on the economy with even just one song illegally downloaded.

Independent musicians now form a large part of the music industry and they do not make millions, far from it.  Many can barely survive on the income they receive from their music work.  I would hope the right amount of respect be given to their efforts by actually purchasing their work rather than downloading it illegally.

A fellow artist, Loreena McKennitt, is a big spokesperson for this, and she has actually had to lay off people from her company because the illegal downloads of her work have made it impossible for her to maintain their employment.  This is extremely sad for me to see.  No one would ever accept to work for free, why should artists?

Thanks so much for this time, John, and for the work you do for New Age music!

John:  I get to know many artists personally, and I feel the same way too about the music piracy issue of illegal downloads.  I am pleased to be in a position to help get the message across.  I look forward to writing more about you soon Al.

Visit the alconti.net homepage and his music store where you can sample or purchase all four albums, and keep up with the latest news.  You are invited to visit Al’s official blog at alconti.blogspot.com and Facebook page. Read my Al Conti page.

Photos are courtesy alconti.net and with additional photographer credits of – Michael Mattern, Patrick Cote, John Young, Gerrit Ohm, and Kay Dillenberger.

The new Winter Poem album by Secret Garden was released with much fanfare in November of 2011. It was during my interview with Fionnuala Sherry about her solo release Songs From Before, when Secret Garden fans heard news about Rolf and Fionnuala’s new Winter Poem release.

Secret Garden’s new Winter Poem album has all original arrangements from Rolf Lovland, along with the award-winning Expo Suite that he composed for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai China. If you haven’t purchased their newest album yet and you want to sample, you can listen to Secret Garden’s newest release at Valley Entertainment or Amazon using the links below.

On Winter Poem, Rolf and Fionnuala remain close to their signature sound that has made them an international success, but they have also taken on a fresh approach on their newest composition which guarantees their fans something special. Once again the outstanding Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry is happily the centerpiece artist on Winter Poem, plus Secret Garden has enlisted several exceptional Norwegian and Irish musicians for their vibrant new release.

One guest is dynamic vocalist Moya Brennan from Celtic group Clannad, who sings on The Dream, which is one of many new songs you can listen to right now. Another guest vocalist is Fionnuala Gill who sings on song Mary’s Lament. Tracey Campbell and Espen Grjotheim perform on song Powered By Nature.

Secret Garden’s Winter Poem was scored, arranged and produced by Rolf Lovland, and in addition to fine instrumentals by Secret Garden, the special guest vocalists, their new album features the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

A Secret Garden concert tour in Norway recently gave fans a chance to hear songs from Winter Poem, and songs covering 16 years as an acclaimed music duo with millions of fans worldwide. Secret Garden fans and new visitors have a chance to win an autographed 8 CD collection of Secret Garden albums including the new Winter Poem album. Simply visit Secret Garden’s site, click on the top banner and enter your email address for current news and information on Secret Garden.

Sample and purchase Winter Poem at secretgarden.no and Songs From Before at fionnualasherry.com. Sample or purchase Winter Poem at the Hearts of Space Records Label at valley-entertainment.com. Find more information and read an interview with Fionnuala Sherry on my Secret Garden page. Photos are courtesy secretgarden.no.

A Midnight Clear is a brand new Christmas release from Bill Leslie. Recognized for his multiple talents as a musician and journalist, Bill Leslie is no stranger to winning awards as a top ranked new age artist and television newscaster for the WRAL – TV network in Raleigh North Carolina.

Bill Leslie’s A Midnight Clear is an instrumental album with 16 songs of traditional and original music. Finding inspiration from author Jan Karon, and her best-selling Mitford series, A Midnight Clear was the first entry in a 2011 album recommendation I wrote entitled The Best Christmas Albums for Holiday Music.

Simple Beauty earned Bill Leslie a top award for Best Instrumental Album – Acoustic at Zone Music Reporter in 2010. The video from the album below of song Smitten is the audio visual product of a family vacation in the Pacific Northwest. Along with his original compositions, Bill composes traditional and Celtic fusion music as soloist and concert appearances with his band Lorica.

The 10 original songs on Simple Beauty are modeled after 4 traditional Irish melodies in a wonderful blend of instrumental harmonies. On Simple Beauty, Bill Leslie performs acoustic guitar, piano, bass, whistles and keyboards.

Instrumental artists on this album are Bill Covington (Grand Piano), Brent Cotton (Acoustic Guitar), Jennifer Curtis (Violin), Nancy Green (cello), Will Leslie (percussion), and Linda Metz (flute).

While Bill Leslie is a prominent new age artist, a 5 time Emmy award winning journalist and recipient of multiple Journalist of the Year awards in North Carolina, Bill Leslie gives the impression he is prepared to go the normal distance to find perfect balance in his talents as a top artist and TV journalist, for which he is equally admired. Below is a review quote from Simple Beauty and the song video Smitten.

Visit billleslie.com to sample or purchase at his web store or visit his amazon.com page. Read my pages for Bill Leslie. Photo is courtesy billleslie.com.

Bill Leslie’s appropriately titled Simple Beauty is a work of harmony whose scenic wonder and peaceful surroundings emerge by the great instrumental theme, making this natural and wholesome new release a sensational find for everyone.

Multi-platinum pianist Jim Brickman is one of today’s most beloved artists whose selection of romantic piano and Christmas music spans across a wide variety of popular music genres. With 6 of his albums acquiring Gold and Platinum status, it’s easy to see why Jim Brickman is a prominent celebrity in the popular and new age instrumental music genres. Likewise, he is renowned as the greatest pianist in the Adult Contemporary genre category, having charted more than any other male performer.

Jim Brickman is a highly recognized entertainer and recording artist who has thrilled millions of people for years with his award winning collection of popular piano music which can range from solo piano, popular, mainstream music, adult contemporary, and a wonderful selection of Christmas albums, many of which are available in CD and DVD formats.

With 6 Gold and Platinum albums, 2 GRAMMY® nominations, and 30 chart topping adult radio hits, Jim Brickman is accustomed to prestigious awards and recognition. Along with 2 SESAC Songwriter of the Year awards, a Canadian Country Music Award, and a Gospel Music Association Dove Award, he is tied for the most #1 albums in Billboard’s New Age charts. Presently listed in the Top 10 of Billboard’s New Age Charts are three of Jim’s albums; All is Calm, Romanza, & Love.

Jim Brickman is likewise cherished for his countless album collaborations with other popular celebrity artists, some of which include Lady Antebellum, Kenny Loggins, Martine McBride, Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, Carly Simon and Michael W. Smith. During the course of his lengthy career Jim Brickman has become a household name, having crossed over into mainstream piano music that is adored by millions of people worldwide.

The Christmas holidays are a special time of year that symbolizes another period in time when people often associate Jim Brickman, and his special variety of piano instrumental Christmas music. Currently Jim is beginning his 2011 Holiday Concert Tour in the continental U.S. Also recognized for his humanitarian efforts, Jim is involved with many charitable foundations dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families, including Autism Speaks, UNICEF and Camp Heartland.

New Age Music World host John P. Olsen had an opportunity to interview Jim Brickman at the very start of his opening Christmas Concert Tour in 2011. Today we are pleased to present their conversation to Jim Brickman’s international fan base and to our global site visitors.

Interview with Jim Brickman;

John Olsen: Thank you so much for accepting my interview invitation Jim. I realize this is an especially busy time for you. It is truly a privilege to be the host for your most current interview. Currently you are about to begin your 2011 “A Christmas Celebration” Concert Tour, which has numerous concert venues in major cities throughout the continental U.S.

John: When traveling across the country on tour with full entourage I imagine the excitement of every performance takes a lot out of you, and the entire team. How do you and everyone on the team re-energize and prepare for the next concert?

Jim Brickman: Each city, theatre and audience is different. Knowing this helps keep the performances fresh and exciting. It really is like celebrating Christmas every day.

John: During your Christmas Concert Tour in 2011 you have special guest vocalist Anne Cochran and Ben Utecht, with violinist Tracy Silverman. I have heard these artists on your YouTube videos and must say you have a great team Jim! Would you like to tell everyone about the exceptional artists who will be performing with you during this year’s A Christmas Celebration Concert Tour?

Jim Brickman: I’ve been performing with Anne Cochran and Tracy Silverman for many, many years. Anne and I met in high school. I look forward to performing with her, not only because we are close friends, but because she has a beautiful voice and a great personality.

Tracy is a brilliant musician who adds a dimension to my concert that you don’t normally expect to hear. Ben Utecht is new to the tour, but may be a familiar name to NFL football fans. He was a member of the Super Bowl Championship Indianapolis Colts. He has a powerful voice that brings new meaning to familiar songs and old favorites. Ben has a large presence on stage, and he wears his Super Bowl ring!

John: How many seasons have you held Christmas concerts to date, and how do you determine which of the many exceptional artists to choose from will be performing with you? If it is not a secret, can you tell us some of the Christmas songs concert attendees will hear during your 2011 season?

Jim Brickman: This is the 16th year of the holiday tour. I will be playing holiday favorites and a few songs from my latest CD Romanza. Plus the hits, because everyone wants to hear the hit songs. I hope for a few hours the audience can wrap themselves up in the holiday spirit through my music.

John: Over the years you have been Grammy nominated, won countless music awards, in addition to 6 of your releases attaining Gold and Platinum status. It is obvious people adore your music Jim. Do you feel there a specific element about your music that you feel has helped you achieve worldwide popularity?

Jim Brickman: As I write music, I think about where people will be listening to it, and how it will make them feel. Because the majority of my songs have no words, people can listen, apply it into their own lives, and take away what they need to hear.

John: I am confident most people reading this interview are familiar with your music. For those people who may be less familiar with your many albums, what albums would you suggest for a starting point for them to begin sampling your music?

Jim Brickman: If You Believe is my signature song and I think it also best represents my “sound.” It symbolizes my dream of composing and performing, and the belief in myself to bring it to fruition. It’s on the CD Picture This.

John: From your great selection of Christmas music CDs and DVDs, what would you recommend they sample or purchase?

Jim Brickman: That’s like asking which is your favorite child. I have a new CD called All Is Calm that’s available at Target.

John: You have been a successful musician nearly your entire life. Knowing there are other artists reading our interview today, can you give any advice or offer a helpful strategy to those artists who are just beginning their music career?

Jim Brickman: Listen to many different artists that you enjoy and admire. Hear what it is in their music and lyrics that speak to you. Then when you sit down to write, adopt what you like from other elements and make it your own.

So many pianists tell me “Everyone says I sound like Jim Brickman. How do I start my career?” Well, there’s already a Jim Brickman, so I tell them the best way is to create a new, unique sound. Find places to be heard. And don’t be afraid of rejection. Find places to play and show off your talent. Start small and get your style and personality known so that you can grow your career.

John: In regards to your talents as a pianist, would you say you have natural born talents as a pianist, or has it merely taken practice and dedication to reach the level of expertise you have achieved?

Jim Brickman: I started playing piano when I was 4. I begged my parents to buy me a piano. So, that part was natural. I had a lot of piano teachers growing up, and they all wanted me to play in what I call “their style.”

It wasn’t until I studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, that I found a teacher who helped me develop my own style. It evolved out of my classical training and my love of pop music. That’s what you hear today.

John: You have collaborated on numerous projects with famous artists like yourself over the years. Would you like to tell us about your experience while working with esteemed artists like yourself?

Jim Brickman: I love writing with different people because each one draws something new out of me. As I write I hear a specific sound singing the vocals. I love using new voices that may not be familiar to listeners because they come to me with an eagerness and fresh energy. Of course, many have gone on to become household names like Martina McBride and Lady Antebellum.

John: When visiting your jimbrickman.com website I read you are offering a “Jim Brickman Escape Cruise” in 2013, where you and anyone interested can sail the Eastern Caribbean together. What are some of the cruise destinations you have traveled during your earlier vacation cruises, and what are some of the onboard cruise activities?

Jim Brickman: We have sailed all over the Caribbean, and the Mexican Riviera. Two years ago we took an amazing trip to Alaska, and this year we went to Hawaii. I do two concerts onboard, usually in a cabaret style theatre that lends itself to a more casual performance.

A favorite for the fans is the songwriting workshop where we actually write a song with the help of the audience. My parents have become a popular addition to the cruise, and we have a Q&A session with them where they tend to say more than they should! There are casual get-togethers where we all just hang out.

What’s really cool is that a lot of the same people who come back year after year and have made lifelong friends that they continue to travel with.

John: I saw at your website the CDs and DVDs items in your Christmas store section are generously priced at $10 and under. Even your newest releases Romanza & All Is Calm CDs are on sale. Would I be correct in saying Christmas is a very special time for you, and could you tell us why Christmas holds so much significance to you personally?

Jim Brickman: This may sound corny but, what makes Christmas so special to me is the music. We hear the same songs year after year. They create memories that tie generations together.

The old songs are sung in their original form or updated versions, but the message is the same. And sharing that with audiences every night is a wonderful gift I can share.

John: You are also involved with many charitable foundations for children. Would you tell us about your work as a philanthropist?

Jim Brickman: I try to get involved with charities that are affected by my music. When I heard that children with Autism responded to my music, I got involved with Autism Speaks. After Beautiful World was released, we raised money for UNICEF.

People tell me how my music has helped them through chemotherapy, and really hard times in their lives. It important to me to help raise awareness any way I can. Also, a scholarship has been established at my alma mater the Cleveland institute of Music in my honor.

John: Do you have any news or information to pass along regarding any new album projects you may have or special events you will be announcing soon?

Jim Brickman: I produced a Carpenters tribute show called Yesterday Once More that is currently touring the US. I’d love to do more theatrical type shows, maybe even write for Broadway!

John: Thank You again for spending time with us by way of our interview Jim. I look forward to the day when I can follow-up by another interview together.

In closing for now, do you have anything you would like to express to the people who will be attending a concert this year, and the many fans that have supported you throughout your career?

Jim Brickman: I am most humbled by people who tell me how my music has touched them. You really can’t measure something like that that in awards and sales.

Visit the jimbrickman.com homepage and the Jim Brickman Store. Find more about the topics Jim mentioned like his Holiday Concert Tour schedule for 2011 & 2012, and listen to his radio program at brickhouseradionetwork.com. Read my pages dedicated to Jim Brickman. Photos are courtesy Kirkland Performance Center & jimbrickman.com.

Spectrum by Hennie Bekker is one of the best relaxation albums I have heard so far from the award winning artist who has entertained multitudes of people over the course of several decades. Hennie Bekker from Canada, who was born and raised in Africa and lived in England, brings an entire world of experience to his music, and believe me it shows on his newest release.

An Anthology Of Relaxing Instrumental Music is the subtitle of his Spectrum album, which I found to be an wide assortment of melodic songs pointing to the diverse abilities of a truly world-class musician. The entire life work, credits and achievements of Hennie Bekker could easily fill the page of this article alone, but I can briefly say the review of his life work is very impressive.

Hennie Bekker is a multi-platinum musician who has spent his entire music career exploring a wide array of genres, from new age, electronic, instrumental, world music, and practically everything in-between. His nature inspired soundscape designer albums in the Kaleidoscopes, African Tapestries & Hennie Bekker’s Tranquility series are fine examples of his ever increasing variation in style, as is his highly acclaimed work with Dan Gibson’s Solitudes – Exploring Nature with Music series. Their Solitudes series was so popular the releases reached gold, platinum, double and triple platinum status.

Hennie Bekker chose another new direction by becoming a leading member of the techno/dance 3 member group BKS. The group BKS ended up winning a prestigious Juno Award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), which is equivalent to an American GRAMMY® Award. Film scores and recordings for television and radio can also be included in his growing list of lifetime achievements.

Spectrum is a relaxing album highlighting the entire range and variety of this artist who has composed and produced over 60 albums to date, along with his compositional arrangements and collaborations that number well over a thousand. In a way Spectrum can be considered a “Best of Hennie Bekker Album” since of the 14 songs total, eleven of these songs are recordings selected from his finest music collection to date.

I couldn’t help but think that it would be worth a minute of your time to check out the world-class music Hennie Bekker has spent his entire lifetime perfecting. Visit henniebekker.com to sample or purchase Spectrum, or visit his amazon.com page. Photos are courtesy henniebekker.com.

Christmas is the most important holiday of the year for most people. While this is especially true for marketing retailers, they too, along with the majority of people also recognize the supreme reason for the season, and truly enjoy the building anticipation during the preceding days, weeks and months leading up to Christmas Day.

If you are like me, simply listening to Christmas music can help one transition into the holiday frame of mind. And while everyone has their own individual pace for getting into the Christmas mood sooner or later, I can always depend on holiday music to renew my Christmas spirit.

Listening to popular Christmas songs prompts an association of my own past holiday experiences with family and friends. Likewise there is a vast selection of music to choose from since many popular artists past and present, have produced outstanding holiday music for our enjoyment over the years.

The best Christmas albums in all popular genres including new age are very comparable since many artists compose their own revision of traditional Christmas songs. It seems nearly everyone is familiar with mainstream traditional songs, so for many us there is even less of an apple to oranges comparison in terms of genre. Sometimes they are so much alike the easiest way to classify their melodies is to simply call it holiday music.

Along with the Christmas holidays is the yearly task of finding a suitable gift for family and friends. One gift idea I would like to suggest is the gift of music, and it doesn’t matter whether your gift is in the form of an mp3 or CD. Music is a gift idea that is relatively inexpensive, and most people will enjoy receiving any time of the year. The economical gift of music can be the perfect choice for many special occasions including birthdays, and in some cases, weddings and anniversaries.

Finding the best Christmas albums for your holiday listening experience is pretty easy too. There is an increasing number of outstanding Christmas albums I would consider my favorites so permit me to tell you about 12 Christmas albums in the New Age genre. Listed in the order of the artist tags at my site, the 12 best Christmas albums are listed by alphabet using the artist’s first name. If you are interested in popular holiday albums for entertaining or gift giving, below is my list of the best Christmas albums with direct links so that you may sample or purchase my holiday music recommendations.

12 Best Christmas Albums for Holiday Music.


1.  A Midnight Clear – Christmas in Mitford (Soundtrack) by Bill Leslie.

A Midnight Clear is an instrumental album with 16 songs of traditional and original music. Bill Leslie has another sensational new release people of all ages can enjoy listening to with A Midnight Clear. Drawing his inspiration from author Jan Karon and her best-selling Mitford series, nine instrumentalists join Bill Leslie on the newest release in November 2011 of the 12 Best New Age Christmas Albums recommendation.

While Bill Leslie is recognized as an award winning musician, Bill Leslie is a 5 time Emmy Award winning journalist and newscaster for WRAL television network, and a recipient of multiple Journalist of the Year awards in North Carolina. He is also the composing director and soloist of his traditional and Celtic fusion music group Lorica. In 2010 Simple Beauty won an award for Best Instrumental Album – Acoustic at Zone Music Reporter.

Visit billleslie.com to sample or purchase A Midnight Clear by Bill Leslie, or find at Amazon.com.

2. Holiday High by Cadence Spalding.

Holiday High is an inspiring new age Christmas album with 10 songs with a intermingling of traditional and original holiday music from 2009. The angelic vocals by Cadence Spalding are a beautiful performance on Holiday High. The innovative talents of mixing and layering are introduced by another respected new age artist. Together with beautiful vocals by Cadence and the other artist’s special creative touch, Holiday High is a release far apart from many other Christmas albums.

Holiday High is a traditional Christmas album displaying the serene musical qualities of two great artists who have earned a respected position in the music world by their individual albums. Save The World by Cadence Spalding is another New Age release worthy of your consideration. While Save The World is not a holiday release, Cadence Spalding’s debut release won a Best New Age Album Award in 2009 at another blog. Her classical new age popular music is a pleasant mix of ballads finely tuned to perfection in the purest sense, and best describes the question of “what is new age music” best.

Visit CadenceSongs.com to sample and purchase or find Holiday High at Amazon.com.

3. A Christmas Celebration by Celtic Woman.

A Christmas Celebration is a Celtic instrumental vocal album from 2006 with 15 song revisions of traditional holiday music performed with grace and style. This is the second release from Celtic Woman who is made up from a female musical ensemble with Irish origins. Recognized internationally by their charming vocals with instrumental backing, Celtic Woman is a quality group who has earned a worldwide fan base and escalation in popularity over the years.

A Christmas Celebration was certified a Gold album by RIAA in 2009 with a volume of sales reaching over 500,000 copies. Along with international concert tours in the United States and overseas, their PBS television series with special orchestra performances on CD and DVD and over 6 million in album sales, they have entertained a multitude of people worldwide.

The DVD releases A New Journey–Live at Slane Castle is one of their most popular. The CD/DVD editions of Celtic Woman, A New Journey, The Greatest Journey, & Songs From The Heart are equally popular. The sixth and seventh most current albums from 2011 are Celtic Woman: Lullaby & Celtic Woman: Believe.

Visit celticwoman.com to sample or purchase A Christmas Celebration by Celtic Woman, or find at Amazon.com.

4.  And Winter Came by Enya.

And Winter Came is a 2008 release from superstar Enya with 12 holiday songs with a winter theme. With over 75 million in album sales worldwide, it’s no exaggeration the Irish born Enya is loved by millions by her collection of Celtic, new age, adult alternative repertoire. And Winter Came recalls the enchanting moments of the season with brilliant beauty.

Enya is a phenomenal female artist who has won four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album, in addition to an Academy Award nomination. Easily becoming one of the most popular award winning female artists in history, Enya and her trademark melodies are the hallmark of year round quality music.

Whether Enya’s holiday album And Winter Came is your first choice, there are more great albums to choose from. The Very Best Of Enya is a popular chose, like Memory of Trees & A Day Without Rain which sold 15 million copies worldwide is a very popular choice. The album Amarantine from 2005 is another fine song collection, and we certainly can’t forget her early classic releases Shepard Moons & Watermark.

Visit enya.com to sample or purchase And Winter Came by Enya, or find at Amazon.com.

5.  Christmas Joy by Fiona Joy Hawkins.

Christmas Joy is a brand new 2011 release with 11 songs of four original compositions and seven revisions on traditional holiday music. On Christmas Joy, pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins introduces a bold mixture of classical and jazz influences combined with world music rhythms and instruments of Didgeridoo, Gaelic, Paraguayan harp, soprano saxophone and stringed orchestra. Fiona even lends her vocals on this release. Musicians accompanying Fiona Joy Hawkins on piano and vocals are Philip Aaberg, Will Ackerman, Charlie Bisharat, and Eugene Friesen and Heather Rankin.

Fiona Joy Hawkins Blue Dream album is a piano and instrumental collaboration with other professional artists that received top music honors and again extended the worldwide admiration for her work. Fiona is a multiple awarding winning pianist who covers new age, classical, contemporary, jazz and world fusion music. Recognized internationally by her award winning piano and instrumentals, you can always depend on Fiona Joy Hawkins to create an exciting mix of songs that are without out exception, produced with quality.

Visit fionajoyhawkins.com.au to sample or purchase Christmas Joy by Fiona Joy Hawkins, or find at Amazon.com.

6.  Christmas for Two by Lisa Downing.

Christmas for Two is a beautiful piano solo album with 12 original revisions of traditional holiday music. Lisa Downing has a special gift herself as a top solo pianist, and this is especially articulated on her holiday music release. Lisa’s collection of original arrangements in traditional Christmas melodies are a mixture of contemplative and energizing pieces which will inspire the holiday spirit in anyone who listens. Lisa Downing has produced another winning album with Christmas for Two.

Lisa Downing did in fact win award recognition with Christmas for Two in NewAgeMusic.nu’s Best New Age Album Award in 2009, and an award for Best Holiday Album in 2010 at Zone Music Reporter.  A Delicate Balance is her solo piano, new age, neo -classical release from 2009 that carries with it a special Lisa Downing touch. Along with her business endeavor and talent agency Vision Quest Entertainment, Lisa is a touring concert pianist who performs many concert venues each year, including corporate and private events. She is an esteemed concert pianist who has toured or performed with other renowned artists David Lanz, Suzanne Ciani, Liz Story, Joseph Akins and Peter Kater. Lisa Downing is a great artist who certainly belongs in this Best New Age Christmas Albums recommendation.

Visit lisadowning.com to sample or purchase Christmas for Two by Lisa Downing, or find at Amazon.com.

7.  Keys of Christmas by Louis Colaiannia.

Keys of Christmas is a piano, instrumental and vocal new age album with 9 songs in an assortment of original and traditional holiday music. Due to be officially released on December 1, 2011, Louis Colaiannia is a talented songwriter, pianist and concert performer. When you listen to Keys of Christmas, you can tell right away the classically trained pianist who explores contemporary piano, jazz, new age and chill out music, has in fact produced a wonderful holiday arrangement. Enjoy the season in perfect harmony with Keys Of Christmas.

Louis Colaiannia’s album A Moment Between Eternities is a classic, instrumental new age contemporary release in 2011. The wonderful range in thought and feel with contemporary variations of classical orchestrations express the passion in which Louis composes every one of his album releases. The 9 songs on A Moment Between Eternities are like modern improvisations on classical music by graceful piano songs emboldened by contemporary instrumentals.

Visit louismusic.com to sample or purchase Keys of Christmas by Louis Colaiannia, or his page at Amazon.com.

8.  Christmas Symphony by Mannheim Steamroller.

Christmas Symphony is a new popular instrument album in 2011 with 16 of your holiday song favorites. This beautiful full symphony sound instrumental release is performed with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and includes some vocals. Many of you may know this, but Mannheim Steamroller is the most popular Christmas music artist of all time. And that’s a fact. With 28 million in album sales in the United States alone, and their legendary concert tours, it’s easy to see why they have become so popular.

The vast selection of Mannheim Steamroller holiday albums include  Christmasville, Christmas Sweet Memo, Christmas Song, Celebration, Christmas Extraordinaire, 25 Year Celebration, Christmas Angel, Christmas Live & A Fresh Aire Christmas. With this long list of popular holiday albums like Christmas Symphony, it’s easy to find what you are looking for.

Mannheim Steamroller founder Chip Davis, and co-found Jackson Berkey have recently announced their annual holiday celebration “The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis” will soon begin their Christmas concert tour season, so check their website for concerts in your area. Check out their great selection of gifts too.

Visit mannheimsteamroller.com for Christmas Symphony by Mannheim Steamroller, or find at Amazon.com.

9.  Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection by Mannheim Steamroller.

The Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection from 2009 is a 2 CD collector’s edition of 25 song favorites. The 2 CD song playlist for this excellent edition was selected by Chip Davis himself. If you are like me there are songs you will remember from years past, but it is all about the technical sound enhancements and playlist that makes this release special. After the 25 year anniversary tour last year, Chip Davis continues the tradition of live concerts for audiences around the country.

Mannheim Steamroller has also released a 2 CD disc album in their Fresh Aire Music Series that is a “best of the best” from the popular Fresh Aire series. The 25 songs selected by the band founding director Chip Davis are some of the most popular songs in the entire 8 disk Fresh Aire series. Mannheim Steamroller’s awards of 16 gold records, 7 platinum records and 4 multi-platinum records, Christmas albums and holiday concerts have made them the #1 Christmas music artist of all time.

Visit mannheimsteamroller.com for the Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection by Mannheim Steamroller, or at Amazon.com.

10.  Christmas from Mars by Mars Lasar.

Christmas from Mars is a new age instrumental album with electronic designs on 10 traditional Christmas melodies. This “Best Christmas Albums” recommendation simply wouldn’t be complete without including the 2007 holiday release from Mars Lasar. Recognized for his versatility and talents in electronic instrumental music, Christmas from Mars shines by the aptitude and expertize he conveys in every one of his albums.

Another new age artist performs angelic vocals on this album, so together their individual albums Holiday High & Christmas From Mars each are distinctive in their own way by their special creative touch and technical aptitude that sets their albums apart from many others in the new age Christmas album category. Both artists have earned a respected position in the music world by their individual albums and additional albums they have produced together. Mars Lasar’s most current is a solo piano album with 18 songs entitled Piano Moods From Mars.

Visit MarsLasar.com to sample and purchase or find Christmas from Mars at Amazon.com.

11. Christmas Eve and Other Stories by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Christmas Eve and Other Stories are a progressive rock adaptation of 17 songs from 1996 in a 1 CD or mp3 format. If you are familiar with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and their theatrical linage of songs, then you know Christmas Eve and Other Stories is unlike any other artist in my top albums recommendations. While I can advise every one of their songs is non-traditional, I can also say every song is special!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra has two very popular concept theme albums entitled Beethoven’s Last Night & Night Castle. Given their name, it does imply they are a Russian based act, but Trans-Siberian Orchestra is in fact a group based in the United States. Along with a huge fan following, their concert and album sales reach into the millions. Their just as popular Christmas themed album series are The Christmas Attic & The Lost Christmas Eve. Trans-Siberian Orchestra may leave you wondering if they are new age, progressive rock, symphonic, or classical music, but whatever classification you decide, you will definitely be impressed.

Visit trans-siberian.com to sample or purchase Christmas Eve and Other Stories by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, or find at Amazon.com.

12. A Windham Hill Christmas by Various Artists.

A Windham Hill Christmas is an excellent release from 2002 featuring 14 song revisions on some of your most familiar holiday songs featuring Windham Hill artists. In this case, by various artists is a good thing! The Grammy Award winning founder of Windham Hill Will Ackerman even performs on the song What Strangers are These. It’s a wonderful instrumental album with a variety of top artists in the music business.

On A Windham Hill Christmas album there are so many top artists that space doesn’t permit me to list every professional. Popular artists on this release you are sure to recognize are Jim Brickman, George Winston, Tim Story, Tracy Silverman, Alex De Grassi, Liz Story, Paul Schwartz and many more. The hallmarks of this album are a relaxing, right at home feel you will notice right away. It’s some of the best songs available from the experts at Windham Hill.

Visit legacyrecordings.com to sample or purchase A Windham Hill Christmas by Various Artists, or find at Amazon.com.

This concludes my 12 Best Christmas holiday album recommendations. On January 1 2012 New Age Music World will present the Best New Age Music Album Awards for 2011. There are many great releases this year, and I will publish my recommendation for Best New Age Albums on New Year’s Day 2012.

            Cover arts are courtesy of each individual artist. Photo copyright Big Stock Photo by Subbotina Anna & ppart.

New Age contemporary pianist Jim Brickman is leading the Top 10 New Age Charts at Billboard for the week ending October 22, 2011. The fact Jim Brickman is at the top of the charts really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone even halfway familiar with his piano music, knowing six of his albums have achieved Gold and Platinum status.

Love by Jim Brickman is the #1 Top 10 album in the Billboard New Age Chart after spending 14 weeks on the chart so far. Home by Jim Brickman is currently the #4 album in the Top 10 New Age Chart at Billboard after the 18 weeks on the charts. For a little history about Jim, it was in 1994 when he signed onto Will Ackerman’s Windham Hill Records for his first release entitled No Words. The deeply emotive song Rocket to the Moon was his first introduction to the Billboard charts.

Jim Brickman’s Faith album is another fine release that was nominated for a Grammy Award during 2010 in the Best New Age Album category. Everyone will have to wait and see what is next in store for this award winning pianist whose album collection ranges from solo piano, popular music, adult contemporary, along with a wonderful selection of Christmas albums.

Speaking of the holidays, Jim Brickman’s “A Christmas Celebration” Holiday Concert Tour for 2011 has been published at his website. Recognized for his various album collaborations with other popular musicians like Lady Antebellum, Kenny Loggins, Martine McBride, Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, Carly Simon and Michael W. Smith, Jim Brickman continues to raise the bar in terms of popular music that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people.

Visit jimbrickman.com and check his Holiday Concert Tour schedule for 2011 & 2012. Read my pages for Jim Brickman. Photo is courtesy jimbrickman.com.

Jeff Oster is an exceptional flugelhorn and trumpet performer in today’s new age music recording industry. Many of you may already be familiar with Jeff Oster knowing he is a strategic recording musician with GRAMMY® Award-Winning Will Ackerman, at his Windham Hill Records studio. Jeff Oster is likewise a dynamic session performer on studio album recordings with new age artists Fiona Joy Hawkins, Jamie Bonk, Matt Millecchia, Kori Linae Carothers, Shambhu, and other great musicians.

Jeff Oster has his own award-winning releases which earned him an Album of the Year award, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album award, and Best New Age Song award, but many of the releases he has collaborated on for other musicians have gone on to win album or song awards of their own.

Surrender is his newest release in 2011 featuring 11 contemporary jazz infused songs that reflect the true nature of his specialized abilities as a trumpet and flugelhorn professional. Surrender is Jeff Oster’s fourth of his three prior contemporary releases; True, Released & At Last. You will find Surrender is a new age album with an urban jazz influence that carries with it a beautiful verge of sophistication.

Jeff Oster performs live Jazz music in the song video below at the Rhythmix Cultural Center in Alameda California. Accompanying Jeff are Lars Hidde, Michael Manring, Joe Venegoni, Carl Weingarten.

Visit jeffoster.com music to sample or purchase his 2011 release Surrender, or find at his amazon.com page. Photo is courtesy Craig Merrill and jeffoster.com.

Candice Night, lead vocalist of the award winning group Blackmore’s Night, and her new solo album Reflections is drawing a lot of interest upon its release this week. The attention given to her new Reflections album is only logical since Candice Night deserves a considerable amount of admiration even before her solo stride into new musical horizons.

Reflections is a contemporary release that presents Candice in a modern day exodus from the prosperous Blackmore’s Night renaissance group she and husband Ritchie are most recognized for. Regardless, you are sure to love the pleasing contemporary tone and mood on every arrangement.

Renown for her silky vocals and striking on-stage presence, Candice Night is repeatedly compared to other popular female singers like Karen Carpenter and Stevie Nicks by those who know her best, but I can easily name one more popular artist to the list.

The music celebrity I am thinking of is Candice Night herself knowing she is an amazing singing songwriter who really needs no comparison, having already realized a highly successful identity of her own.

In another noteworthy development, Candice has a starring role as an actress in the film House of Eternity, which has a end of 2011 release date.

Candice Night’s worldwide presence as the lead singer and songwriter for Blackmore’s Night just happens to be the perfect introduction for her first solo release. In turn I am sure Reflections will advance her career to even higher acclaim by the 10 instrumental and vocal songs of crossover music in modern variations of popular, country, rock and contemporary themes you are sure to love.

The guitar backed popular tune Gone, Gone, Gone has a modern country design while Wind is Calling (Hush The Wind) is a breezy song with warm intimate vocals that are pleasing to the heart and mind. Another adorable melody is Call It Love.

The beautiful crossover song Call It Love is deeply moving, and a fine complement to her impressive capabilities as a gifted singing songwriter who is acclimated to an expanded variety of popular music arrangements. Even though gold records, prestigious music awards, television appearances and sold out Blackmore’s Night concert tours are a good way to measure the magnitude of her success to date, steadfast confirmation of her achievements can be discovered simply by listening to her sing.

This is true either with Blackmore’s Night or on her solo album Reflections, that is about as good as it gets in terms of a vocal/instrumental album.

In fact, Candice Night’s Reflections is the best contemporary vocal album I have heard this year, so it’s not hard to imagine Reflections achieving one or more category awards for “Best Vocal/Instrumental Album of the Year.” And people who know me best know I don’t say this often. As a songwriter her lyrical aptitude and point of view finds its inspirations go hand in hand with nature, and even more so on Reflections.

Candice Night reached an inspiring turning point in her life when daughter Autumn Esmerelda Blackmore was born. While her presence as lead female vocalist performing world tours with husband Ritchie Blackmore and the entire renaissance troupe are indeed admirable, this momentary departure by her solo stride and change into new music horizons gives listeners a clear panoramic view of an immensely popular artist, and her ever expanding array of talents.

Visit candicenight.com and read her history page. Purchase mp3 downloads and pre-order CDs now. Her Reflections CD is available October 11th at Amazon.com. Visit blackmoresnight.com for news and info and my pages for Blackmore’s Night. Photo and cover art are courtesy candicenight.com.

Award winning Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night has released her new solo album titled Reflections. Her presence as lead vocalist, songwriter, and wind instrumentalist who tours worldwide with husband Ritchie Blackmore, former guitarist for Deep Purple and founder of the band Rainbow, has caught the imagination of music lovers internationally.

Reflections is a contemporary new solo release with 10 instrumental songs and prominent vocals of crossover music in modern variations of popular, country, rock, contemporary themes. Often likened to other iconic female vocalists, Candice Night retains an inherently unique personality as a vocalist. The recipient of numerous gold records and prestigious awards, her lyrical propensity regularly finds inspiration with nature, and her point of view is even more apparent on Reflections.

Candice Night’s worldwide presence as the lead singer for Blackmore’s Night is the preceding creative outlet for her first solo release. This momentary departure from the renaissance themed Blackmore’s Night reveals another aspect of Candice Night, and her talent for producing popular crossover music in a contemporary theme you are sure to love.

The popular crossover music in a pleasing modern day tone is found on every arrangement. Some of the most popular songs are Gone Gone Gone, Call It Love and Hush The Wind. The third song on her release titled Black Roses is shown below in an official YouTube video.

Visit candicenight.com. You can purchase individual mp3 downloads and pre-order CDs now. Her Reflections CD is available October 11th at Amazon.com. Visit blackmoresnight.com for news and info and my pages for Blackmore’s Night. Photo is courtesy candicenight.com.

David Arkenstone is the Grammy Nominated musician who recently composed the Echoes of Creation movie soundtrack for Emmy Award winning director Jan Nickman, and his inspiring nature film that bears the same name. The scenic backdrop for the landscape footage filmed in the U.S. is the Pacific Northwest, California, and Alaska.

The Echoes of Creation DVD soundtrack by David Arkenstone is a beautiful instrumental score that seems to bring out the very best of what director Jan Nickman had in mind while producing this equally stunning film. Together as a team they have produced an audio visual product that is beyond comparison!

For the award winning musician David Arkenstone, the Echoes of Creation soundtrack comes to be his most recent CD release in his already extensive list of popular orchestral albums. The instrumental songs on David’s soundtrack are Deep Beauty, The Most Sacred Art, Tides of Eternity, Riding the Invisible, Journey of Forever, The Inevitable, Embrace Everything & Echoes of Creation title song.

Below is the official Echoes of Creation video trailer.

Visit the davidarkenstone.com homepage to sample or purchase the CD soundtrack. Visit echoesofcreationmovie.com to order Echoes of Creation on CD, DVD or BlueRay formats. Cover art is courtesy echoesofcreationmovie.com.

Mark Barnes is a multiple award winning composer and producer with several exceptional album releases available, and another new project on the way entitled Alive which is nearing completion. After listening to his two most current CD releases, I can almost say with near certainty that the Alive CD will be comprised with more dramatic instrumental music with cutting edge electronics like I heard on his first two albums. I enjoyed meeting Mark so let me tell you more about him.

Mark Barnes has enjoyed the honor and distinction of producing award-winning music over the years, having won the Independent National Artist of the year award in 2008 from the Phoenix Music Awards.

He was the recipient of the Hollywood F.A.M.E. Award for Music & Cinema at the 18th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards, and a top 20 finalist in the instrumental category for the 11th annual edition of Unisong, an International Songwriting Contest.

In 2009 Mark Barnes won the Soloist of the Year Award at the 19th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards, and Composer of the Year award at the 20th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards in 2010. Another recent honor was the 2010 Genre Award in Music at the Pride in the Arts Music Awards, which was sponsored by Rainbow World Radio.

Mark’s most recent music award was for Best Original Song composition at the 2011 TCI Film Festival with co-writer and two-times Academy Award Nominee Carol Connors. Their win for best song was for a documentary-drama film score song titled A City Within A Dream.

The Awakening & Temporal Infinity is the two most current releases from Mark who is a U.S. resident from the state of Florida. He also happens to be a touring musician currently planning his 2012 concert tour that will present his live performance combined with digital animation and live action video. His objective is to display a stunning visual effect in correlation with each song so that concert attendees can visualize his music. To me, I can picture the effect similar to an audio visual concert designed for the hearing impaired.

The Awakening is the most current album featuring 14 songs that are an ethereal blend of New Age, Ambient and Electronic. Like most of the albums and individual downloads I sampled, The Awakening is an album that seems to highlight his skill as a pianist and composer who possess a full repertoire of engaging melodies. Likewise there is a magnificent counterpoise to his piano compositions by the synthesizer element which extends the range and depth and gives each piece a deep feeling of inner beauty.

The title song The Awakening & To The Edge Of The World are moderately time piano pieces that are good examples for his personal style of instrumental and synthesizer arrangements, some of which have strong percussion backing.

The Prayer was the best song I thought by portraying the deeply emotive melody on an epic scale that is comparable to the grand instrumentals in Back To Bali. The song Sunday Morning Dance is more of an exception to other songs since the primary focus here is a lively paced electronic techno rhythm with strong percussion to match.

Mark Barnes who is a voting member of The Recording Academy (Grammys) has another fine New Age, Ambient, and Electronic release titled Temporal Infinity. This earlier album is perpetually uplifting like The Awakening, but of a gentler variety on the 13 song composition. I thought both could be a best album or best song award winner.

The Awakening & Temporal Infinity each has their own melodic perspectives while giving a perfect illustration of this artist’s style and diversity. When listening to both albums the two interconnected aspects of his classic based melodies with expert synthesizer complements made me appreciate the fact I was listening to not only a multi-award winning composer and producer, but a seasoned music professional.

Visit markbarnsmusic.com to sample/purchase or visit his Amazon.com page. Photos are courtesy Mark Barnes Music. Visit carolconnors.com to read about the amazing career of Carol Connors, who herself will be the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Composition this November at the Los Angeles Music Awards. Congradulations Carol Connors!

Mannheim Steamroller has released a 2 CD disc album in their Fresh Aire Music series that is a “best of the best” from the popular series. The 25 songs selected by the band founding director Chip Davis are some of the most popular songs in the entire 8 disk Fresh Aire series.

The Fresh Aire Music of Mannheim Steamroller is the title of the 2 CD’s special edition. Along with being the number 1 Christmas music artist in history, and their sensationally popular Christmas concert tours, Mannheim Steamroller has been awarded 16 gold records, 7 platinum and 4 multi-platinum records over the course of their early New Age music beginnings.

Rather than quote a price for the 2 CD Fresh Aire albums at MannheimSteamroller.com and Amazon.com I can tell you this album is very modestly priced. With the holiday season just around the corner this is truly a quality music product that would make a thoughtful but inexpensive Christmas gift!

Mannheim Steamroller’s song Morning from Yellowstone: The Music of Nature is the video below. A few days ago I wrote an article about “The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis” concert tour in 2011 so if you would like, you can check for concert venues in your area by my links below.

Visit the MannheimSteamroller.com homepage and read their concert schedule. Purchase or sample the Fresh Aire album at Amazon.com and read my pages on Mannheim Steamroller. Photo and cover art is courtesy mannheimsteamroller.com.

New Age Music and popular, mainstream music by celebrity artists is becoming even more diverse these days. Many artists within the New Age genre often have additional musical influences including Popular, Progressive, Rock, Adult Alternative, Soul, Folk, Jazz and other subcategories. Likewise, many of yesterday and today’s top artists who produce popular hit music have ventured into song melodies considered far from the swift currents of  mainstream music.

Tasmin Archer is a popular artist from the UK who became an international sensation back in 1992 with the release of her very first album entitled Great Expectations. Being one of my favorite artists for many years after hearing her first release, I can tell you her other albums like ON, Bloom & Shipbuilding are a variety of songs that can be viewed as popular or mainstream music, but ascertaining one specific music influence in her music becomes much more challenging. She is indeed adventurous!

Tasmin Archer’s smash hit song Sleeping Satellite from Great Expectations led to international recognition, reaching number one top album in the United Kingdom and Ireland, in addition to reaching international chart success in many countries.

The wonderful Great Expectations album with 11 songs reached number 8 in UK Albums Chart and attained gold disc status at years end. Tasmin was later bestowed another honor when she won an excellence in music BRIT award for the Best British Breakthrough Act.

Tasmin Archer has a sense of adventure on Great Expectations you will discover. Her lyrical point of view on all of her albums is straightforward, with a down to earth expression in touch with current day ecological and social issues.

The accompanying musicians are John Hughes and Robbie McIntosh on guitars. Keyboard players are John Beck and Paul Wickens. The percussionist is Charlie Morgan and Gary Maughan played a Fairlight synthesizer. Backing vocalists with Tasmin Archer are Tessa Niles and Carol Kenyon.

Shown below is the extraordinary song video called Sleeping Satellite from the Great Expectations album by Tasmin Archer.

There are plans for a new album by Tasmin Archer in 2012 which is welcomed news!

Visit TasminArcher.com to sample or purchase Great Expectations & Best of Tasmin Archer, and find additional albums on her Amazon.com page.

Cover art courtesy tasminarcher.com.

The Independent Music Awards or (IMAs) have released the list of category award winning musicians during their tenth annual awards competition. During the prestigious IMA annual awards ceremonies, which represent and honor international Indie artists, publicity and recognition for the musicians involved reaches an estimated 50 million people.

David Clavijo from Seville, Spain won the Best New Age Song category with his song titled Promises from his current New Age, World Music, and Chill Out album release The Landing (Special Edition). There are other organizations that recognized David Clavijo, and his award-winning album too.

The Independent Music Awards are determined by a two part tier judging panel and voting process by fans and visitors who rate the nominees at The Vox Populi Jukebox. The nominated artists are then selected by this process to produce an award winner in each category. Below is the impressive song video for Promises, which shows the cinematic aspects of his release.

Congratulations David Clavijo!

Visit davidclavijo.com to sample or purchase. Find more at independentmusicawards.com and my page for David Clavijo.

David Clavijo from Seville Spain seems to have a natural inclination of what multi influential New Age music is all about. I felt his performance on acoustic and electric guitars along with piano and keyboards are a fine line balance that blend together quite nicely by having these diverse instrumental strengths.

There are two top of the chart New Age albums at Billboard I have reviewed recently, both of which are two new releases that I would recommend for anyone who loves great instrumental music. Yanni & Blackmore’s Night are two of the new releases currently listed in the Top 10 New Age charts.

Yanni’s Truth Of Touch is listed as the number 1 album. Truth Of Touch has spent 20 weeks on the Billboard chart during the week of July 9, 2011. Another fine album from Yanni I haven’t reviewed is his more ethnic instrumental release Mexicanisimo, which is listed at number 7 after having spent 36 weeks on the charts.

Truth Of Touch is a studio composition of refinement, giving one a beautiful impression like the inspiring concert recollections of yesteryear. The prodigious caliber of musicians Yanni enlists is boldly demonstrated on what I feel is his greatest instrumental music composition yet.

Blackmore’s Night’s Autumn Sky is listed as the number 4 album during the week of July 9, 2011. Autumn Sky was the second album I reviewed this year that had debuted at number 1. This renaissance inspired band which transports progressive music into contemporary times is a model for success, past, present and future.

This Blackmore’s Night album was also the greatest gainer of the week after having spent 20 weeks in the top 10 New Age albums at Billboard. Another fine release that I haven’t reviewed is Secret Voyage, which endured as a top 10 album for 72 weeks.

Ritchie Blackmore & Candice Night are the Grammy Nominated musicians that make up the core essence of Blackmore’s Night. You will find Autumn Sky is an album that accentuates the elegant vocals delivered by Candice, along with ancient and modern instrumental fanfare for which this group has become famous.

Blackmore’s Night & Yanni are both awarding winning music groups I will write more about in the future. If you want to read my album reviews here are my Yanni Truth Of Touch review. Here is my Blackmore’s Night Autumn Sky review. View the current Billboard New Age Chart. Cover art is courtesy yanni.com & blackmoresnight.com.


                                                                          Fiona Joy Hawkins 

                                                                          Blue Dream Album

                *Album of the Year *Best Contemporary Instrumental *Best Contemporary Instrumental / Piano

David Wahler                                 Michael Brant DeMaria                        Michael Brant Demaria

Antiquus Album                            Ocean Album                                         Siyotanka Album

*Best New Artist                           *Best Ambient  & *Best Relaxation     *Best Native American


Michael Stribling                                Bruce Michell                                     9  Muses

The Promise Album                           New Earth Goddess Album               Feel to Heal Album

*Best Electronic                                  *Best Neo Classical                          *Best Chill / Groove


Again we invite our readers to visit each individual artist website by our links provided within every review.  You can find their individual reviews by scrolling down our main pages or by clicking on their names in the right hand module to visit their dedicated page here at New Age Music World.

The ZMR Best Album Award winning musicians I wrote about this year at New Age Music World are shown above.  Every artist listed has a home here so I will be posting more info about these award-winning artists in the future.

New Age Music World

New Age Music World - Profile Page

Best Album Awards
Best New Age Music 2014
Official Olympic Music
World Flags
Award Ceremony Music

Award Ceremony Music

Yanni Concert Dates 2017
Yanni Concert Dates 2015
Best Albums & Songs
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Musicians by Alphabet
7and5 2002 Acoustic Ocean Adiemus Al Conti Alexander Zhiroff Alphaville Anewday Ann Licater Ann Sweeten AOMusic Arturo Mayorga Arun Shenoy Asher Quinn Atticus Ross Audiomachine Australis Balligomingo Benedikt Brydern Ben Woolman Bill Leslie Bill Wren Billy Sherwood Blackmore's Night Bob Ardern Bradley Joseph Bruce Kaphan Bruce Mitchell Bryan El Cadence Spalding Candice Night Celtic Woman Chad Lawson Charlee Brooks Charlie Adams Christophe Lebled Christopher Boscole Chuck Wild Ciro Hurtado Clannad Clifford White Coburn Tuller Colin O'Donohoe Cormac De Barra Craig Karolus Craig Urquhart Daft Punk Dana Teboe Daniel Alcheh Darlene Koldenhoven David Arkenstone David Clavijo David Gordon David Hoffman David Lanz David Mauk David Nevue David Wahler Davol Denise Young Dennis Banks Devin Rice Diane Arkenstone Enigma Enya Eric Chapelle Eric Tingstad Erin Aas Evan Wish Eversound Records FED Fiona Joy Hawkins Fionnuala Sherry Fred Thrane Gabriel Vivas Gandalf Gunnar Madsen Hans Zimmer Hennie Bekker Howard Shore Isaac Shepard James Hood James Mattos Jan Hammer Jason Carder Jeff Oster Jeffrey Fisher Jeff Woodall Jim Brickman Joey Curtin Johannes Linstead John Adorney John Williams Jon Anderson Jonas Kroon Jose Luis Serrano Esteban Josh Groban Julian Ray Karen Olson Karl Jenkins Kathryn Kaye Keith Driskill Kelly Andrew Ken Elkinson Kevin Bluemel Kika Kane Kitaro Kori Linae Carothers Laura Sullivan Lauren Jelencovich Lawrence Blatt Libera Liquid Mind Lisa Downing Lisa Hilton Lisa Lavie Lizary Rodriguez Rios Louis Colaiannia Luna Blanca Mannheim Steamroller Marc Enfroy Marie Therese McCartin Mark Barnes Mars Lasar Mary Simpson Masako Matthew Labarge Matthew Schoening Matt Millecchia Medwyn Goodall Michael Brant DeMaria Michael Cretu Michael Stribling Mickey Hart Band Mike Oldfield Ming Freeman Moya Brennan Nicholas Gunn Nick Farr Nitish Kulkarni Omar Akram Pangean Orchestra Paul Avgerinos Paul Jensen Paul Sills Peter Jennison Peter Kater Peter Sterling Placido Domingo Psicodreamics Randy Edelman Ravi Shankar Riad Abdel Gawad Rick Wakeman Rolf Lovland Royce Campbell Samvel Yervinyan Sarah Brightman Sarah O’Brien Seay Secret Garden Shambhu Spencer Stanley Steve Bowe Steve Gordon Steve Hackett Steven C Steven Halpern Steve Orchard Sue Brescia Susan Boyle Suzanne Doucet Tangerine Dream Tasmin Archer Terri Liles Mason The 9 Muses Timothy Crane Todd Boston Tomas Michaud Trans Siberian Orchestra Trent Reznor Trevor Jones Tribali Tron Syversen Uwe Gronau Vangelis Vicki Logan Victor Espinola We Are Nexus Will Ackerman World Music Yanni Yes Yoel Del Sol Yo Yo Ma
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New Interview with Yanni
New Interview Yanni 2014
James Hood Interview
James Hood Music Interview
Moya Brennan Interview
Moya Brennan Interview
Diane Arkenstone Interview
Diane Arkenstone Interview
Interview with Chuck Wild
Chuck Wild of Liquid Mind
Will Ackerman Interview
Interview with Kitaro
Interview with Peter Kater
Peter Kater Interview 2013
Nicholas Gunn Interview
David Lanz Interview
Al Conti Interview
Michael DeMaria Interview
Eric Tingstad Interview
D. Arkenstone Interview
Jon Anderson Interview
Secret Garden Interview
Jim Brickman Interview
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