Charleene Closshey loves Christmas music… just like a certain piano sensation we know!
Friend of the show Charleene Closshey stopped by to tell us all about her love of yuletide tunes! Here’s what she had to say:
JB: From film, to broadway, to composing classical music, to writing Nashville hits and even playing along with some of my songs, Charleene Closshey’s path is a unique one, and her love of christmas music started about as early as it could!
Charleene: My relationship with Christmas music began the day I was born. I was actually born a few weeks late— my birthday’s in January— but I was probably just already immersed, entering this world with the sights and sounds of Christmas. It sounds kinda funny, but when I was two, I started piano, and so I learned to read music before I read words, and Christmas music has from day one been a part of that vocabulary. I’m one of those weird people who— and I can claim that!— who know pretty much every single verse to every single Christmas carol.
More about Charleene Closshey
For American performing artist and creative producer Charleene Closshey, music was her first language: Charleene learned to read music before words when she began studying the piano at age 2. Since then, her storytelling mediums have expanded: she’s appeared on Broadway, scored music for films, produced and starred in a feature film next to a pious Viking, released both singles and LPs across diverse musical genres, played Irish fiddle with Celtic Thunder, sang opera in Rome, was called out by Frank Sinatra, Jr. on stage as the ‘violinist who knows my dad’s songs as well as I’, and dueled fiddles with Charlie Daniels (twice).
This Capricorn with a Taurus moon seldom lets an initial roadblock stop her…admittedly, once she’s considered every detail. A trained technician attentive to her crafts coupled with the self-proclaimed freedom to approach a situation with an artist’s unencumbered creativity, Charleene shines in her roles both in front of and behind the camera or microphone.
“I believe success is a culmination of projected vision and tenacity of spirit. You can wish for something all day long, but if you don’t engage in allowing, success seldom manifests. Success is defined by each individual…it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
“To me, I perceive success as consistent present moment living. Everything is created in THIS moment. Not in the last or in the next, but right here, right now. And I feel successful when I’m creating, staying fully present in the here and now. It feels good. And right. And truthful. To me, that’s a huge success.”
Charleene’s first starring role in feature film AN EVERGREEN CHRISTMAS (Netflix) was a seamless fit, combining her talents of acting, singing, and playing both the piano and violin on screen and in the score, working beside Academy Award Nominee Robert Loggia and country music legend Naomi Judd. She received a Best Actress nomination at the 2014 California Independent Film Festival, where the film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. AEC won the Audience Choice Award at the AMFM Palm Springs Film Festival the same year.
Her second feature film starring role in NO POSTAGE NECESSARY placed her beside British actor George Blagden (VIKINGS, VERSAILLES), an experience she says reinforced the subtle power of giving. “Honesty is such an integral part of creating a character. This karmic idea of giving and receiving really comes to life when actors freely open themselves to their scene mates…that’s when the magic happens. Words can get in the way; silence is powerful.”
Charleene says she relies a grounded approach with an unsullied belief in possibility to both her acting and musical work, a capacity which has been likened to Magical Realism.
“I believe life is actually quite miraculous. Every interaction, every fibre of connectivity — whether pleasing or challenging — opens us up to something greater than ourselves, if we so allow. I suppose this belief gently spills into my work.”
Charleene has appeared in dramas, comedies, and musicals across the globe, making her Broadway debut in 2014 in Tony Award winning musical “Once” on the same stage as Julia Roberts debuted eight years prior. Her inaugural theatre piece titled “Feather: A Musical Portrait” in which she composed the score made its U.S. premiere Off Broadway in the 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival, a run in which Charleene starred in and produced.
“For many years, I played in the sandbox of other’s stories, an excellent training ground indeed and experience which ultimately solidified by desire to tell my own stories, hence why I began writing and composing. Life is about connectivity and truth. All kinds of truths. I think I was just designed to share stories.”
Since then, Charleene released the soundtrack and score for NO POSTAGE NECESSARY titled “Talk About Love: Music from the Motion Picture No Postage Necessary,” working with 6 time Grammy winner Brent Maher to produce the song tracks featuring her vocals heard in the film. “Brent inspires with his effortless ability to allow an artist to create, gently guiding towards even greater ideas and sounds.”
The team’s next album, “Only Love Remains,” is slated for a April 2019 release. “We’ve been really blessed to work with songwriters at the top of their games, either by telling their stories through song or by co writing with them. I love to tell other people’s stories. The process absolutely solidified music is a huge part of my life’s work. “
A self-confessed Christmas Spirit junkie, Charleene and Brent created their first Christmas album to release November 2019, featuring innovative new takes on classic holiday tunes including “O Holy Night,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Charleene even penned an original version of the sacred prayer “Ave Maria” to debut on the album, but only after it makes its world premiere December 25, 2018 with the Sofia Philharmonic and national Boy’s Choir of Sofia, Bulgaria.
Admittedly, she’s excited about the continued opportunities which keep unfolding and restless for the next phase of connecting audiences with her artistic works, many of which center around the construct of Choice.
Says Charleene, “We all have the ability to choose — to choose how we live our lives, with whom we share our lives, and how we express our deepest selves in this time and space. Nobody writes your story but you. You can shape and shift your destiny however you desire. You’re never defeated by circumstance, unless you tell yourself you are. Even the hardest lives find joy when they realize it is already within. Everything starts from within. You want to change your environment? Go within. You want to spark a revolution? Go inside. To change the world, we must first change ourselves, else what are we really changing?”
“If this groovy corner of the New York City scene is going to take the world by storm, Lawrence may well be its best bet for the future.” – Live For Live Music
“To me, rock wasn’t meant to be pretty, but desperate, risky and bombastic…where it could go off the rails at any moment.” – Andrew Reed
“Music is such a powerful way to convey my thoughts and ideas; it’s like a journal, a true snapshot of my life.” – Ava Della Pietra