During the hot days of last August, Elicia MacKenzie booked time at Blue Frog studio in White Rock to record an album of Christmas music.
Her Home for Christmas CD of 14 seasonal songs is now available for purchase (via links at eliciamackenzie.ca), but the singer won't be home in Surrey for the holidays - she's on stage in Asia with a touring production of Notre Dame de Paris.
"It's a musical about the hunchback of Notre Dame," MacKenzie said. "My role is Fleur de Lys - the 'other' woman in the show. I cause of a bit of trouble, let's just say that."
MacKenzie, a Sullivan Heights Secondary grad, made national headlines in 2008 for winning the CBC-TV show/contest How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Her prize was the starring role, as Maria von Trapp, in a big Andrew Lloyd Webber-backed production of The Sound of Music in Toronto. MacKenzie went on to earn a Dora Mavor Moore award for her work, and later rocked venues across North America as the female lead in Rock of Ages.
"It was crazy fun to do that show (Rock of Ages), and just so different from The Sound of Music," MacKenzie said. "You know, with Rock of Ages we could have fun and be a bit crude at times, too. We toured to a lot of great places and I got to know the States a bit, for about six months. I don't think I'd want to live out of a suitcase for too many of my days, but I got a taste of that. And here I am going back on tour for another six months or so (laughs). But I've always wanted to travel in Europe and Asia, and what better way to do that than go on tour and get paid and doing what I love to do."
She rehearsed the Notre Dame de Paris production in Paris, naturally, and later opened it in Moscow. This month and next, it's off to several cities in China before show dates in Taiwan and Japan.
Recording an album is something the singer has always wanted to do, and August 2012 was the right time to get it done at Blue Frog, with White Rock's Luke Milker there as co-producer/keyboardist. Three of the songs feature Surrey Children's Choir.
"I thought a Christmas album would be fun," MacKenzie said, "and it's a good time to do it now (last summer). I had wanted to do one in previous years, but I have the time now. I was very busy doing stage work, which is great. And a Christmas CD is a great first project for a start doing music, because it's a little bit of an easier process."
From "Happy Holiday" to "Go Tell it On the Mountain," MacKenzie has given jazz, blues and classical arrangements to some familiar Christmas songs.
"I've had tons of family members beg me to make a CD, so this will be their Christmas present from me this year," she said with a laugh.
Family members are helping to sell copies of the CD at some local events, including the Creative Finds craft fair held at Sullivan hall last weekend.
These days, when not touring, MacKenzie splits her time between Surrey and Toronto.
"I'd love to work here in Vancouver more, but there just isn't the same number of shows being done here, compared to a place like Toronto," she said. "People here need to see more live theatre! I don't know, I think it's because Vancouver is so beautiful that they just want to be outside and tend to take for granted all the art and music happening around them. Toronto isn't as pretty as it is here," MacKenzie added, laughing.