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Count Your Blessings

Barbara Cook

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Album Review

Barbara Cook addresses seasonal music in a variety of moods and settings on Count Your Blessings. The Broadway Inspiration Voices, a 12-member, male chorus, joins her on the title song, "O Holy Night," "Silent Night," and the late-'50s McGuire Sisters song "May You Always," adding a reverent tone to the religious songs and a jovial one to the pop tunes. "I Wonder as I Wonder," "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," Amy Grant's "Breath of Heaven," and the album-closing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" employ a spare accompaniment of one or two instruments (or are rendered a cappella), giving them an intimate feel. Otherwise, Cook is backed by an orchestra in detailed orchestrations by Larry Blank that support her voice well. It is that easily identifiable voice of hers that is the album's major asset, however. Cook's warmth and sincerity as a singer (as well as her sense of fun) make her an ideal performer of Christmas music, be it sacred or secular. She is particularly affecting on the several songs that date from the 1940s and '50s (a golden age of Christmas songs), particularly "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," imparting the bittersweet tone of the original (which appeared during the war years). She joins in on a recent trend in holiday collections, incorporating songs that aren't really Christmas tunes, but that fit the mood of the season, such as "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "May You Always," and even "Count Your Blessings" (which, although used in the 1954 film White Christmas, does not refer to the holidays directly). But that doesn't harm the overall impact of the album, which is one of the better Christmas discs of the early 21st century.

Customer Reviews

Heavenly

This is Barbara Cooks first Christmas album and I hope it's not her last. As usual, her voice is heavenly, caresssing the lyrics and warming your heart. The big surprise on this set is how fresh these standard Christmas songs sound when perfrmed by Cook. Many Christmas discs can be overly florid and cliche, but not so on this disc. The only jingle bells you'll hear on these songs is in "Winter Woonderlnd" and they are subdued. Barbara Cook and her arranger Wally Harper keep things in a (deceptively) simple and intimate setting. Almost as if she's giving you a personal concert in your living room. I've always enjoyed Amy Grant's "Breath of Heavn" and was surprised to see it appear on this album. Cook is somehow able to make it an even more moving experience than Grant. "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" which starts acapella and grows to include a banjo and a harmonica, harken back to her Atlanta roots. Probably my favorite track is "I Wonder As I Wander" which is sung completely acapella. I'll be listening to this set for many Christmas' to come. Count your blessings indeed. So far, I count 15.

Barbara Cook is the best!

This is a wonderful addition to the Christmas recordings that we all love because there is no better singer working today who can do them as well (and 80 years old at that). Barbara Cook has a voice that is perfect, and she does these classic songs to perfection.

Biography

Born: October 25, 1927 in Atlanta, GA

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A singer with a warm, light soprano, Barbara Cook became a successful Broadway musical performer in the 1950s and '60s. In the '70s, she moved largely into cabaret singing, at which she was equally successful. Born Barbara Nell in Atlanta, GA, on October 25, 1927, she took an early interest in singing and appeared in kiddie shows as a child. At 14, she won the ten-dollar prize at an amateur-night contest at the Roxy Theatre in Atlanta, singing "My Devotion." In February 1948, accompanied by her mother,...
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Count Your Blessings, Barbara Cook
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