Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Christina Grimmie Christmas (My Christmas Music, Part 1)

During this Christmas Week, I'm going to share some music. I'll begin with an artist that, as you know if you read this blog, has moved me so deeply in recent years, and in so many ways.

Christina Grimmie sang various traditional and contemporary popular Christmas songs that are still accessible on YouTube. Even though these are not necessarily the best (and certainly not the funniest) of her videos, these songs are marked in a particular way; they are all arranged by her, performed on her electronic piano, and sung by her unique, versatile, powerful soul-stirring voice—an inimitable voice that no longer sings on this earth. It was silenced much too soon.

What we do have, musically, is a kind of "archive" unknown to previous generations: an archive of publicly accessible videos that are as fresh as the day they were made.

Christina sings in what is broadly termed a rhythm-and-blues vocal style. It's the style often used by pop singers today. Some of my readers probably don't like this singing style, and I can understand that. Everyone has different tastes. I'm not particularly a fan of this style myself, unless it's done really, really well.

Christina Grimmie did it really, really well.

I'm going to link a few Christmas song videos here. The sound quality of these particular videos varies depending on the circumstances in which they were made. Listen if you wish, or jump off into YouTube and explore others.

As I've said before, it's worth it to "get to know" this extraordinarily talented, big-hearted, generous but also down-to-earth, sweet, fun-loving, goofy, accessible and in so many ways "ordinary" girl. Christina Grimmie lived something extraordinary even within the most ordinary features of her life. This may not be apparent at first, but the precious multidimensional and multimedia archive of her last seven years in this world conveys a powerful impression that grows over time.

She doesn't come across as what we conventionally think of as a "saint" or "holy person" (and she certainly had ordinary struggles and made plenty of ordinary mistakes). She does exhibit a striking but also familiar kind of goodness; she comes across as someone you would want your daughters to be friends with. And eventually you do really begin to see even more; you start to recognize how her ordinary human ways were suffused with a passion and a tenderness, a contagious joy and an affirmation of life that even now, in the legacy of her videos, proves itself greater than the ultimate weapons of violence.

We need witnesses like her in our poor world. It's not surprising that Christina Grimmie fits in so well with Christmas, and not just for her music.


Returning to the subject of music, let's have some music!🎹🎵

First, here is the classic song What Child is This? It was recorded in Christina's room, with her brother Mark playing an accompaniment on the guitar. Mark himself is an excellent guitarist and musician, but you can't hear him very well over Christina's piano arrangement and ringing vocals. It would have been nice to hear how this would have mixed in a studio. But it's a beautiful performance.

Above all, it's precious just to see the two of them together.

That video was from Christmas 2013. The previous year she did her first of two Stageit Christmas shows, live streaming and interacting directly with a live audience of viewers all over the world. Here is her rendition of Jingle Bell Rock (or as she titles it, "Jingle Bell Rawwk," in reference to the distinctive "Rawwk Fingers" signal she shared with Team Grimmie).

Another "pop" Christmas song she covered was Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas is You. Her second Stageit Christmas show in 2014 may not have the best audiovisual quality, but in my opinion it's her best rendition of it.

Of course, we don't want to leave out her epic and soulful rendition of O Holy Night for Christmas 2011, when she was only 17 years old.

Finally the picture at the bottom (even though it's not from Christmas) seems fitting to illustrate the Christmas tweet I have reproduced below it. Christina used many forms of social media to connect with her frands and respond to them. Twitter was one of the instruments she used to network with kids all over the world.

Christina always tweeted about Christmas and Easter. Sometimes she tweeted a few simple words on a Sunday. Occasionally she would just spontaneously declare her love for God, express her gratitude, or her dedication to the glory of Jesus Christ. But she was never preachy, and usually she was tweeting about the multitude of things that your teenagers and mine are interested in, and reaching out especially to the desperate kids, the ones whose lives were terribly broken, and who so much needed the experience of being loved.

And she did it without any program or scheme or affectation. She did it as a human gesture toward a person, in ways that were possible. She responded according to the concrete opportunity, to a person watching Stageit, on Twitter, in a crowd at a concert, or standing in front of her at a meet-and-greet. She did it with love.

At Christmas, though, she always emphasized the source of that love; and of the joy and vitality of her brief beautiful life.