Australian stage favourite and accomplished international leading lady, Patrice Tipoki has had an incredibly successful 2016. Rather than being satisfied with a restful holiday season after a stint playing Fantine on the West End, in Dubai and Singapore, she has released two vastly different solo songs over the last few weeks, both concerning different aspects of the Christmas narrative. We took the opportunity to talk to Tipoki about her new songs, ‘Christmas All Year Long’ and ‘Son of God’, and found out what it is about Christmas that inspired her to give her voice to the songs.
What do you believe the modern Christmas message is?
Love. Having been all around the world this year, we were reminded how much we have in common with people everywhere, not just in our own backyard. And that no matter one’s faith, culture or beliefs – love is what is important!
What are your favourite Christmas songs/carols to sing or listen to?
‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘O Holy Night’, ‘Grown Up Christmas List’ and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.
What does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas to me is about giving thanks for the miracle of our Saviour’s birth. I love that surrounding that, we have the cultural traditions of gathering together in festivities!
Why do you enjoy learning and singing Christmas music?
There’s such a good feeling and a spirit in Christmas music that makes it infectious and enjoyable – who wouldn’t want to feel that!
Can you recommend any arts/musical theatre gifts this Christmas?
I know some great Christmas songs that would be an awesome gift (nudge nudge wink wink!). Leslie Odom Jr. also has a gorgeous Christmas album out which I would love as a gift! Theatre tickets would also be a perfect gift for that special someone too.
Christmas is a time of reflection, what are you most thankful for in 2016?
I am so grateful for my supportive family who are so fun, keep me grounded and bring me so much joy!
The majority of carols and Christmas songs are based around the Christian Christmas narrative, but ‘Christmas All Year Long’ is non-religious – what is the importance of secular or non-denominational Christmas music being performed alongside classic carols?
People can often feel left out at this time of year if they are not Christian or not celebrate Christmas the way that a lot of the Western world do. What we often feel at this time is an opening of our hearts. Wars cease fire & families forgive each other. Including non-denominational songs with carols can hopefully help all to feel included because we are all part of the same human family with the same need for peace, love, compassion and good- will to all men.
You also recently performed another new Christmas song, ‘Son of God’. Why did you choose to become involved in a project that gives voice to Mary, a character often overlooked in the Bible story after her pivotal role in Jesus’ birth?
I was invited by Paul Cardall, an American pianist and composer, to be involved in this song. Paul wrote ‘Son of God’ because he believes that Mary knew more than people often give her credit for. She was from a family who would have attended the synagogue and studied the scriptures together. She was visited by an angel who told her she would be the mother of God’s son. I find it a fascinating concept because as a mother you hope that your unborn child will live a happy and healthy life. But Mary knew in advance that her son would be scorned and abused. And in suffering He would save the world. To me it was an enticing acting challenge, written so beautifully by Paul.
You’re predominantly known as a musical theatre performer, why did you choose to lend your voice to solo original songs?
I’ve always loved recording and singing. People know me from doing musicals but I’ve always gigged and written and been surrounded by music.
What do you want listeners to take away from ‘Christmas All Year Long’ and ‘Son of God’?
I find these two songs quite different so I would hope they would provide different experiences for the listener. ‘Christmas All Year Long’ is a powerful pop ballad with a message of compassion for all. ‘Son of God’ is a reflective spiritual piece exploring a mother’s wonderment about the life her Son will lead. I guess with both, I hope people’s hearts will be left open to each other in light and love.
How do you celebrate Christmas?
Family, food, music and food.
What is your favourite Christmas
tradition, if you have any?
As our family has grown and changed over the years our traditions have changed. We used to always perform a song each for our extended family on Christmas day – each kid, each cousin, each adult, each person who was willing and even those of us who weren’t! Nowadays, Christmas is often one of the only times that we’re together as a whole family so we actually enjoy and try to make sure we share the musical gifts we’ve been given now that we appreciate it more.
Should music teachers teach their students contemporary Christmas songs as well as traditional carols? If so, why?
Yes. I think all of them have a place and it’s as important to remember the traditional as it is to progress with the contemporary.
What do you hope Santa leaves under the tree for you this year?
A baby! Though I don’t think he works like that.
You’ve conquered the world in 2016, what can we expect from you in 2017?
My little fam have supported me so much touring in the last two years, I’d like to give them some time back in Australia to put down some roots and establish some routines. I’m also looking forward to doing some more collaborations and writing. So stay tuned!
Both songs are now available for digital download on iTunes.