She is Debbie Fortnum… You better get used to hearing that name because for the first time in her career she has an opportunity to concentrate fulltime on her music. Fortnum, who lives with her husband Scott and their children on Canada’s west coast, has always possessed an abundance of musical ability both vocally and instrumentally. With her Christmas album The Christmas Piano, Fortnum lets us hear her great chops.

The CD begins with the rousing “I Saw Three Ships/Good Christian Men Rejoice” before elegantly moving into other seasonal favorites such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, “Away in a Manger” and “O Holy Night”, just to name a few of the wondrous pieces that Fortnum performs on this album.

There are two beautifully orchestrated arrangements that stand out on this CD, “Carol of the Bells” (track seven) and the sensitive and stirring interpretation that Fortnum provides for “What Child Is This?” If music can inspire awe without the whisper of a word, then Fortnum and producer Chris Janz have accomplished that with “What Child Is This?”

The only disappointing feature of this album is that only once do we get to hear the gorgeous effortless vocals of Fortnum. The good news is when you hear her lift her voice in praise to “The Music of Emmanuel” you will want to look for her music at CD Baby  or on iTunes.

The only other artists to appear on this splendid CD are Chad Bjorgan’s drumming on “The Music of Emmanuel” and Chris Janz whose musical repertoire never ceases to amaze. Among the numerous instruments that Janz plays on this CD are guitar, drums and various percussion instruments.

Janz produced the CD at British Columbia’s Whitewater Studios the home of another great Canadian producer Roy Salmond.

Fortnum strikes the right balance for this album as her gentle stroking of the keys provides a peaceful ambience. If you ever have a chance to meet Debbie Fortnum you will understand that peace and joy radiates deep from within her soul. She represents all that is good about being in Christ. Every note of this Christmas album is infused with the same love that Fortnum so eagerly shares with those whose lives she touches.

Those same sentiments were echoed recently by producer Chris Janz. “Working on The Christmas Piano with Deb was something very special. She brought so much emotion, personal experience and warmth to the project, and having those elements present made building upon it very natural. While some Christmas albums can come dangerously close to pretense and commercial allure, this one for me bore the simple trappings of a childhood Christmas, innocent and beautiful. Debbie’s vision, heart and playing bring something intrinsically honest and real to this production… that’s something I find is becoming increasingly rare.”

How can you go wrong with an album featuring talented artists on seventeen tracks, many of which feature more than one song such as the Angels Medley comprised of “Angels We Have Heard On High”, “Angels From the Realm of Glory” and “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”.

Whether you are looking for music for your family to enjoy or are a worship leader at church (and you would like to play something quieter for your congregation as they prepare to worship), I would encourage you to purchase this CD.

Copyright © 2006 Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved. This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague. Joe Montague is an internationally published freelance journalist / photographer.

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