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MCA Nashville recording artist LEE ANN WOMACK is getting ready to celebrate the holiday season. The artist just released her first holiday album, The Season For Romance, which features jazzy interpretations of Christmas tunes. The album also showcases favorites like "Baby It's Cold Outside," a New Orleans style tune that features the incomparable Harry Connick, Jr. lending his vocal talent and highly personal renditions of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Silent Night," "White Christmas" and "The Christmas Song." Lee Ann has put a personal stamp on beloved classics and again established herself as an artist of depth and vision.
Personnel: Lee Ann Womack (vocals); Dennis Budimir (acoustic & electric guitars); Daniel Higgins, Pete Christlieb (saxophone, horns); Rob Mounsey (piano); Chuck Domanico (upright bass); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums).
Sure, Lee Ann Womack was already stepping far beyond the boundaries of country (even by contemporary standards) with her previous album SOMETHING WORTH LEAVING BEHIND, but while that Sheryl Crow-ish affair maintained some tenuous ties to Womack's roots, THE SEASON FOR ROMANCE represents a complete severing of Nashville ties in every sense. For one thing, the record was recorded in L.A., with a full complement of West Coast studio cats. More importantly, it's an album of Christmas songs (okay, that could still be country) performed entirely in swing-jazz, Great American Songbook mode (bye bye cowboy). What's most impressive, aside from the seamless ease with which Womack slides into this role, is the authenticity of the production and the horn and orchestra arrangements, which sound like they could have come straight off a classic '50s record by, say, Eydie Gorme. From pop-rock to Xmas swing all in the space of a couple of months; who knows what the next album will bring for Womack?
Lee Ann Womack graduated from high school and entered college when she was only 17. Her parents let her go all the way across the state to attend South Plains Junior College's renowned music program, where she became part of the school's Country Caravan band. But Nashville was really the place Lee Ann had always dreamed of being. After only a year of school in West Texas, she enrolled in the music business program at Belmont University in Nashville. "I lived in the dorm, so my parents felt I was safe and could get a hot meal three times a day in the cafeteria," she laughs. Still, her parents supported her dream. While attending classes Lee Ann took on a job as an intern at MCA Nashville. "I was your typical gopher," she says, with a smile that makes it clear she is grateful for the experience. Before long, Lee Ann was married to her first husband, singer/songwriter Jason Sellers, and had her first child, Aubrie Lee. While Sellers toured the world, Lee Ann found herself sitting at home, feeling sorry for herself. It didn't take long for her drive to kick back into gear. "One day I just got up and I said 'I'm doing something about my career.' So I did." Since she couldn't afford a babysitter, Lee Ann took the baby along with her as she knocked on the doors of Music Row, handing out demos. "I was even more determined to succeed after I had Aubrie," she says. "Everyone kept telling me that once I had a baby, I'd never become a singer. And I wanted to prove them wrong." Lee Ann had been in Nashville 10 years before her determination really paid off. In 1995 she secured a songwriting job at Sony/Tree, where she learned the ropes. In 1997 her refusal to give up paid off when executives from Decca Records caught a showcase she was doing and immediately signed her to their label. Lee Ann released her debut album from Decca, and it quickly struck a chord with country music lovers. The self-titled album produced her first #1 single, "The Fool," and went platinum. A year later, her second album, Some Things I Know, was a gold record that contained two more #1 hits in "A Little Past Little Rock" and "I'll Think of a Reason Later." But in 2000, everything changed when "I Hope You Dance" became an anthem for millions of people and the album was lauded by critics from all over the world.