Aaron Neville comes to NCC stage
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media November 24, 2010 3:44PM
CHRISTMAS WITH AARON NEVILLE
When: 6 p.m. Dec. 5
Where: North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville
Cost: $35, $40 and $55
Contact: 630-637-7469 or visit www.northcentralcollege.edu/showtix
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
This holiday season, concert goers will get a treat when a legend in soul and R&B stops in Naperville to spread some Christmas cheer.
“Christmas With Aaron Neville” will be performed Dec. 5 at North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall. The holiday performance showcases the Grammy award-winning Aaron Neville performing with his quintet, featuring his brother Charles. The two are among four siblings who founded The Neville Brothers in 1977.
The show will have a predominantly Christmas theme, as Neville has a couple of holiday albums from which to pluck material, including “Soulful Christmas” and “Christmas Prayer.” However, expect to hear songs from his just-released album, “I Know I’ve Been Changed.”
Released in November, “I Know I’ve Been Changed” is produced by the acclaimed country artist and producer Joe Henry. Allen Toussaint, a fellow New Orleans native and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, plays piano throughout the album. The album celebrates Neville’s 50th year in recorded music. He comes full circle with Toussaint, as he played on Neville’s first recording session in 1960.
“It was a no-brainer to work with Allen,” Neville said. “He’s recorded on my albums since 1960. He knows my voice and my range; he was a big help. He helped put some of the songs on.”
The album is his first gospel recording since Hurricane Katrina tore apart his hometown of New Orleans and destroyed his home, and features remakes of songs by Brother Joe May, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Although this is his golden anniversary of being a recording artist, he’s always been a musician in some form, he said.
“I’ve had to do other jobs. I was a long shore man on the docks, I drove trucks, painted houses, dug ditches — you name it, I’ve done it,” he said. “I was married at a really early age and I had a family to take of, so I had to work and play music on the weekends.”
Speaking of marriage, Neville is a newlywed. He married Sarah Friedman on Nov. 12. His first wife Joelle, to whom he was married for 48 years, died four years ago. Neville has four kids and six grandkids.
He never gave the 50th anniversary of his first recording session a second thought, he said.
“It snuck up on me, really. Has it been that long?” he joked.
He credits his longevity in the recording industry to his strong faith in God, he said.
“He’s been taking care of me,” he said. “I say thank you every time I wake up in the morning. I give thanks that I’m still here singing and doing what I love doing.”
Neville first topped the charts in 1966 when “Tell It Like It Is” reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. He landed at the top spot again for his Grammy-winning collaborations with singer-songwriter Linda Ronstadt on such songs as “Don’t Know Much.” At the Naperville date, Charles Neville will play the saxophone.
“He takes a few solos in the show in between me singing,” Neville said. “It’s nice working with family.
“We’ll do Christmas music, some of the old hits, some new stuff from ‘I Know I’ve Been Changed.’ It will be like a smörgåsbord.”
Undoubtedly, people will enjoy it, he said.
“We bring from every genre of music I do — from do-wop to country to gospel, pop, rock whatever. We have a great band too.
“I love singing Christmas songs. It puts a song in my heart and touches my soul,” he said. “I think it should be Christmas all year.”