Orleans has released their first and only Christmas album. Subconsciously, the group—which is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022—must have been working on the holiday collection for decades.
Orleans co-founder Lance Hoppen says, "The material comes from various sources, most written internally and some by friends from other bands. Some had previously recorded lives elsewhere and were remastered, others had previous starts but underwent major revisions and upgrades. Some were cut from scratch in isolation. Some are purely secular, while others center around the Christmas story.”
John and Johanna Hall co-wrote the title track, “New Star Shining” which the band recorded in 1994 for a “Woodstock Holidays” CD released only in Japan. The group’s only Christmas song until now, it was also cut as a duet by Ricky Skaggs and James Taylor. This version features shared lead vocals by John, Larry Hoppen, Lance and Bob Leinbach. The acclaimed songwriting duo also co-wrote “Snowed In With You,” “I Wish I Could’ve Been There” with Tad Richards, and "Quiet Place" with Jonell Mosser. “I Wish” features Little Feat’s Bill Payne on piano and multi-instrumentalist John Jorgenson (the Desert Rose Band and The Hellecasters) playing mandolin. "Snowed In" shines with Dan Dugmore's pedal steel and Andrea Zonn's fiddle.
Two more historical recordings came from the Hoppen family. Lance found his late brother Larry’s version of “Winter Wonderland” on YouTube, which was recorded for a 2010 Rock Xmas Foundation charity. Larry, Lance, brother Lane and sister Lynda sang the introduction of the traditional song “Mary Had a Baby” around 1985 at a Hoppen Family holiday gathering; Lance found the tape, a snippet of which was digitized and included. The band then recreated the entire four-part harmony arrangement during the pandemic.
Fly Amero contributed three songs: "Jinglin' In New England" was written with his wife Donna. Other Fly songs include “Ballad of the Christmas Day Cowboy” (a collaboration with platinum country writer Robert Ellis Orrall) and “I Wish I Could Fly”, written with Allen Estes, featuring Beaver Brown Band’s keyboardist, Steve Burke.
Other songs include “Mary’s Christmas,” originally recorded by The Little River Band, and “I’m Coming Home for Christmas” originally recorded by Ambrosia's Joe Puerta. “The Sound of Christmas” came from Orleans alumnus Chip Martin, who’s written for Billy Paul and Randy Meisner.
Orleans’ “New Star Shining” will be on all digital platforms and available in music stores and holiday catalogs. You can listen to the entire album here.
Band members on Album: John Hall: Guitars & Vocals; Lance Hoppen: Bass & Vocals; Fly Amero: Guitars & Vocals; Lane Hoppen: Keyboards & Vocals; Brady Spencer: Drums & Vocals. Historical contributions from former members Bob Leinbach, Larry Hoppen.
The band went from club and college shows in the Northeast to worldwide acclaim with their top ten singles "Still the One," Dance With Me," and "Love Takes Time.” Orleans has produced a body of work spanning 16 albums and several DVDs. The band’s music is still streamed millions of times a week and featured in TV, movie and commercial productions.
1. New Star Shining (written by John & Johanna Hall)
2. Quiet Place (John Hall, Jonell Mosser, Johanna Hall)
3. Jinglin’ in New England (Fly Amero, Donna Amero)
4. Mary’s Christmas (Roger Helton, Tony Elenburg, John Swaim)
5. I Wish I Could’ve Been There (John Hall, Johanna Hall, Tad Richards)
6. The Sound of Christmas (Daniel “Chip” Martin, John Cirillo)
7. Mary Had a Baby (Traditional)
8. Snowed in With You (John & Johanna Hall)
9. I’m Comin’ Home for Christmas (Bill Pfotdresher)
10. I Wish I Could Fly (Fly Amero & Allen Estes)
11. Winter Wonderland (Felix Bernard, Richard Bernard Smith)