Jazz singer Jonathan Karrant, a native of Fort Smith who now lives in Las Vegas, will return to his hometown for a special two-night Christmas performance at 906 Lounge. Karrant recently recorded and released his "Christmas Wish," a collection of 13 holiday favorites including "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm," "We Three Kings," "All I Want For Christmas Is You," and many more. The album is available on Apple Music, Spotify and his website jonathankarrant.com.
He took a few minutes to answer these questions for What's Up!
Q. Tell me about working with Diane Schuur who sings, "Grown-Up Christmas List" with you. Had you worked with her before? Who else appears on this album?
A. Like so many others, I've been a fan of Diane Schuur for years. Over the past several years, we have become very close friends. When our schedules allow, we support each other and go to each other's concerts and always invite each other to join on stage in a duet. Recording this duet of "Grown-Up Christmas List" is a dream come true on many different levels. To record with someone I've always idolized and now have a special friendship and musical connection with made it a beautiful experience. The song has a lot of meaning for us both being a song that's hoping for world peace. Also, it's super thrilling to record with someone who has had Diane's career. She's a two-time Grammy winning jazz legend, and she's recorded with such artists as Ray Charles, BB King and Stevie Wonder.
I was able to collaborate with such an outstanding team on this album! Pianist Joe Alterman is such a talent and plays with so much joy, saxophonist Houston Person is internationally renowned in the jazz world plus one of my musical heroes, and truly each musician on the record add so much in their own way.
Q. What do you love about Christmas? What made you want to record a Christmas album?
A. It's been a dream for a long time to record a Christmas album. Most recording artists do get around to it sooner or later, and several fans have been asking me for years to do one. So many holiday songs are very nostalgic to us all. We've grown up with these songs each holiday season, and we've shared memories with this music being the theme songs of our Christmas. The songs I picked for the album make me think of my family all coming together to celebrate, some take me back to singing in the choir at the First Methodist Church, and some make me look to the future with wishes and hope.
Q. I know that you sing quite a lot of jazz standards and mix in songs from other genres. After hearing your version of "Last Christmas," I'm wondering how did you choose the songs for this album and how do you determine which songs you'd like to perform and record in general?
A. Jazz doesn't have to be songs from the '30s and '40s written by composers like Cole Porter or Johnny Mercer. While I do love that music, I also love picking songs that are not usually found in the jazz genre and putting my twist on them. You will often hear me take a pop, rock or r&b song and reimagine it with a jazzy spin. I like to think I'm creating new standards by picking a song like "Last Christmas" and taking it away from the '80s and giving it a more storytelling timeless sound.
Q. What are you looking forward to for your Fort Smith shows on Dec. 18-19?
A. I always look forward to coming home to visit family and friends, and it's always so much fun to perform while I'm home. 906 Lounge in downtown Fort Smith has given me a great space to perform in. We turn it into a Las Vegas supper club showroom. It gives me a chance to share with some of the people back home who knew me when, what I've been up to and what I've learned. I love touring, and it's always thrilling performing for new audiences, but there's something special about coming back to your hometown to perform.
Holiday Album Release
WHEN -- 5 p.m. Dec. 18 & 7 p.m. Dec. 19
WHERE -- 906 Lounge, 906 Garrison Ave. in Fort Smith
INFO -- 434-4343; jonathankarrant.com