Interview: Candice Night discusses ‘Starlight Starbright’ and the influence of her children on her songs
Most people know Candice Night as the lead vocalist for the prolific Renaissance rock band Blackmore’s Night, which she co-founded with her husband, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. But Night’s most recent solo effort is of a much more personal nature, an album of children’s songs titled Starlight Starbright. Originally written for Night and Blackmore’s two children, the album’s soothing calm has been found to be of use in other applications, such as helping to calm children with sensory issues in schools. AXS caught up with Candice Night by phone to discuss her concept for the album, the surprising uses fans have found for it, and how recording Starlight Starbright became a family affair.
AXS: You’ve had a long and successful career working with Blackmore’s Night, Rainbow and as a solo artist. What made you want to take on a children’s album?
Candice Night: Well, I was pregnant with my first child and I was just trying to get as prepared as I could because I know once a child is born you lose all that control! (laughs) You roll with the punches and hope for the best. To be prepared, I put down some demos for vocal tracks and simple melody lines behind it that I thought had this incredible positive energy, just in case I was too tired to sing my children to sleep or sing them awake. Because I always wanted my children’s first sound they hear in the morning or the last sound they heard at night to be the sound of their mom. Childhood is such an important period, I feel like even in their newborn stages to give them that comfort, that feeling of security and peace. It’s just such an amazing and magical time. My idea was if I could sing to my children and ease them off to the land of dreams at night, it would be the most peaceful place for them to be. Because you never feel that safe and secure again.
So I decided to do some simple demo tracks just in case I was too exhausted to sing to them. But when I got pregnant with my second child some friends got pregnant around the same time and I remember saying to them “isn’t it amazing those times when you sing to your child and it’s so magical and quiet and peaceful.” And my friends looked at me like I was completely insane and said to me “I would never sing to my child because my singing voice is so terrible it would scare them!” It never really hit me that parents could feel that way. I was so wrapped up in the moment and it didn’t matter to me if you were pitch perfect or in tune or your tone is proper. All that child knows is that’s the child of mommy or the sound of daddy. And it resonates deeply into their soul. It never occurred to me that it could be too much of an insecurity for a parent to sing to their children. A little bit of my heart broke off. So I thought, since there might be other people out there in the same mindset as my friends, that it would be a good idea to put these songs out there for people to play for their children if they don’t feel secure in their own voices and hold that child in their arms and rock them to sleep. That was the original idea of it.
AXS: These songs have really taken on a life of their own with uses you didn’t anticipate, right?
CN: I’ve heard that from other people. For instance, I heard from someone the other day that he rescues dogs, from these horrible dog fights. And he had one dog he couldn’t get into the car to take to the vet because it was so skittish but he put the CD in and the dog laid down in the back seat and settled down. A friend of mine told me her daughter had sensitivity issues and they could never sit down at the dinner table because the child was usually up and running around but she put the CD on at the dinner table and it was the first time she’d been able to sit with her child and her family for a family dinner. For some reason, that CD worked for her. The audio worked for her to relax and sit through a meal. Or another person wrote me that her mother was in hospice and she wanted her mother on the last days of her life to have positive feelings and memories, so they’d play it for her during her last days. It’s interesting the way other people translate it to their own situations, not just to a lullaby but to a positive energy. For me that’s the greatest gift, to have something that was a labor of love and from the heart taken by other people and used for their own good purposes. That’s the greatest gift an artist can receive.
AXS: You spoke of recording the album from a deeply personal place. This album was a family affair. Your husband, Ritchie Blackmore, co-wrote some of the songs and contributed guitar work but also, it was your daughter’s first songwriting credit!
CN: Yes! She was one and a half. I was folding laundry and she was in the big rocking chair I used to rock her to sleep. She had her dollies and she decided she was going to be mommy and she was rocking her baby to sleep. And I hear her from the hallway singing this song to her baby, this beautiful, innocent, pure song. And it was really simple but she had the melody line and the words all worked out. And I hovered in the hallway with a camera like all good “mamarazzi” do and videotaped her singing this song. It was such a beautiful moment. So filled with love.
Then my producer came to town, we have a studio in our basement, or in our dungeon. You can’t be married to Ritchie Blackmore without a dungeon! (laughs) We were working on a Blackmore’s Night CD and the lullaby project was something I was working on the side. And we both decided we had to do this song. I wrote down the words that she came up with and we worked up a backing track around it. I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs on the album, “Lullaby in the Night.” And we did a video to it. My daughter is in it. I figured she wrote it, she gets to star in the video!
AXS: One thing I came out of listening to this CD with is, anyone who ever had to ride with a children’s CD in the car knows it can be a painful experience, but this album is one that adults can listen to as well and not feel like they’re being tortured. Was that your intent?
CN: Well, I didn’t specifically write it with the intention of not annoying people (laughs). It’s just what feels right to me. I was invested in every aspect of this CD. Every sound, every arrangement, every vocal take. It was so reflective of how the feeling translated to me of what the songs should be. It’s interesting it came out like that because I’ve actually heard from people who play this on the way home from work because they’re stuck in traffic and gridlock and they just let the music take them away. That’s what music should be. It should be a great escape from the stress and pressures of this world.
AXS: One thing that will seem immediately familiar to many adults listening to this is your choice of covers. You pulled from John Denver, Kenny Loggins, a song from Cinderella. How did you decide which covers to include?
CN: For me a lot of it was nostalgia. You have that wonderful feeling that brings you back to that place in time. Most of us don’t walk around singing Disney songs in our heads, but most of us watched those movies as we were growing up and that was our safe place, our sanctuary, our secure time. It’s such a great nostalgic point. I did tweak some of them. For example, the John Denver song, “Annie’s Song.” That brings me back to such a great place growing up, but there’s a line “let me die in your arms.” And I was like “nope! Gotta change that!” For him that was to give yourself completely to someone. But “let me lie in your arms” works just as well and that’s where you are as a child, lying in your parents’ arms.
It’s funny with that song specifically. When Ritchie and I got married, I arranged everything in our wedding. I loved the creative process of it. I said to Ritchie, “I’m so overwhelmed. I’ll arrange everything but all I need you to do is pick our wedding song. Pick the song for our first dance. And he picked “Annie’s Song.” It was perfect. It made that whole moment. To me the idea of a moment matched together with music just takes things to the next level. So anytime I hear that song, it reminds me of that first dance at our wedding and how much love there was in the room. And I still sing that song to our kids to get them to sleep, except now my daughter sings harmony parts and won’t go to sleep! (laughs)
AXS: Your vocal style is very unique. Who influenced you as a vocalist?
CN: Hmmm… I was actually enrolled in singing lessons from 4-12 years old and then in chorus in high school, but I never had the confidence to think I could be front and center. But I had to be around music because music for me was everything. It was my great escape. It understood me. It was my world, it was my religion, it was my breath. My books were just covered with lyrics from songs that captured my feelings at that moment in time. I went to school for communications hoping I would be around music but never thinking I would be singing.
So growing up my influences were my mom having show tunes around the house and then my dad being into big band. And a lot of melodic stuff. Karen Carpenter was big then. When I was a teenager I got heavily into Stevie Nicks, still am, I never really escaped that world. I must have been her every year for Halloween for 10 years in a row. But I’m a child of the ’80s, so I listened to a lot of hair bands. And a lot of the classic stuff. I was a big fan of Ritchie’s music long before I met him. When I started traveling around the world with Ritchie, I heard a lot of great singers like Maggie Reilly, who was the original singer on “Moonlight Shadow” with Michael Oldfield, which inspired Shadow of the Moon, Blackmore’s Night’s first album. Sarah Brightman I was exposed to over there, that beautiful mix of pop and opera. We were lucky enough to have her come to one of our shows in Germany and they had to lie to me and tell me she wasn’t in the audience to get me on stage because I was so scared to sing in front of her!
But I don’t think I base my sound on those people as much as I love listening to them. If you are going to walk down the pathway of someone else, you’re going to end up being a second rate version of what they’re doing. You have to be true to you and have your own identity. Channel it from another world. A lot of times I close my eyes and just let those songs take me somewhere else. The best thing you can have in this industry, or in this world, is your own identity.
G-G-G-G-Ghost Stories w/ Candice Night An interview with Megan Burns
Candice Night will be playing a couple of Blackmore’s Night dates in the area this month, including a gig in Patchogue on October 14th, and another in New Jersey on October 16th; as such, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to ask her to tell us some ghost stories, because she’s racked up quite a few throughout her life and travels.
We hopped on the phone the week before last, and in the midst of our supernatural chat, she had to pause the conversation to do some paranormal investigating, saying, “You know, as I’m speaking to you now, there’s something electronic going crazy in the other room. It’s been quiet this entire day, and now there’s something going crazy in the kitchen. And I’m alone in the house. It’s clicking. Can you just hold on and let me see what that is really quickly?” She put me on hold for a couple of minutes, and when she got back said, “Umm…I got to the kitchen and it stopped. This is what happens, though. This is why I’m so incredibly fascinated by this; they seem to make their appearance a lot of times through electronic devices. Like you’ll just be sitting there and the television will turn on, or it’ll just turn off for no reason, or lights will start flickering.”
This seems to have become the accepted “norm” for her and her husband (Ritchie Blackmore), who first bonded over a late-night, supernaturally-themed conversation, and who, in addition to making music and traveling the world together, have a family that appears to be 100% unfettered by ghosts and goblins. “We always call our family ‘The Addams Family at the End of the Road’; we keep our lights very low, our walls are burgundy and dark green, and we have this twenty-foot, really scary thing that we hang every Halloween. My husband named it Humphrey (he names everything Humphrey for some reason), and its hand is as big as a human. We hang it from a cathedral ceiling, and it’s just gigantic and hideous, has fangs and a giant tongue and its eyes light up…I’m sure you could get it at any Spirit store, but it’s really awful looking. And every year the kids are like, ‘Mommy, is it time for Humphrey to go up yet?!’ Which is great, because to me, they’ll have no fear in life! They don’t think any of this stuff is weird or scary at all. We just have so much fun year round. It’s pretty awesome.”
Speaking of pretty awesome, let’s just go ahead and jump into the multiple ghost stories that Candice (who is also just the nicest human on the planet) was able to tell me in our half hour conversation, which included tales of unexplained indoor mists, ghostly children, haunted restaurant booths and MORE:
Catherine Howard was the story of King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, and there was a song on our second album from Blackmore’s Night (Under A Violet Moon); Ritchie and I have a really strong interest in the Renaissance time period, and I was reading reading a book on King Henry VIII and his wives, and the story that got me was the one about Catherine Howard, this poor young girl who wound up being his fifth wife, but she was so immature and naive that she actually wound up cheating on Henry, which, with his track record, was not the brightest thing to do at that point. I mean, he’d beheaded a couple of his wives, and she got caught passing notes to this other gentleman she was interested in, and of course Henry found out about it and banished her to the Tower where she’d write letters to him saying that it wasn’t true. He of course didn’t believe any of that, and he wound up beheading her. And she’d wait every day for a letter to pardon her to come from him, and sure enough, the last day they brought her out to where they’d behead people and they went through with the execution.
So as I was reading this story and Ritchie was coming up with the music, I thought the lyric idea of this with the music would fit perfectly. Usually what happens with our writing process is that Ritchie will come up with the music, and then I go into another room, take a walk, just get away from everything and try to absorb the music and channel the ideas into the lyrical content. So this song came really quickly, and was just a perfect meeting of both the lyrics and the music. I finished writing the text, and I came downstairs and sat in the kitchen with Ritchie, and he brought out the guitar, and I said, “Let me just try and see if this fits in right, or if there’s any amendments I need to make as far as the lyrics are concerned.” So we just sat there, and he’s playing and I’m singing the song, and as I looked up, the whole kitchen seemed to be filled with this…like a mist, like a vapor. It wasn’t smoke (it had no scent), it was just this mist that surrounded us. And I didn’t say anything to my husband until the end of the song; the way that Ritchie and I work is that, as I say, we have such a fascination with this topic, so we kind of test each other when one of us is experiencing or seeing or feeling something. We don’t lead the other one, and we don’t say, “Do you see…” whatever it is, because we don’t want to put that idea in the other person’s head. So it’s kind of like a test to see if the other person sees what you’re seeing without giving them the object or the feeling so that they can latch onto it, even if it’s subconsciously. So I remember we finished the song, and I just said, “Do you see that?” without telling him what it was that I was seeing, and he said, “Oh, you mean the mist? Yeah, it’s really heavy.” And I’m like, “Oh my god, yes!” But that’s how we know that we’re totally on the same page. And we finished the song, and the mist slowly dissipated and was gone. Incredible. I still get goosebumps when I tell this story.
So for us, that was something telling us that this song was working out the way that it should, and after that, we took the second album and we toured in England, and we were in the area of Hampton Court, which was exactly where Henry VIII had actually lived with Catherine Howard. We were right down the road playing in a theater there, and it was right around Halloween time in October, and I remember we got on stage and were trying to explain the story to the audience (obviously the English will get the historical context more than maybe the Americans would, because as far as Henry VIII is concerned, all of that is local) and then we just went into the song and started singing. And we finished the song and consequently finished the tour, went back to our hotel, and it was one of those really fancy hotels where you wake up the next day and there’s a paper waiting for you to read, so we looked at the paper from the night before (which was the night when we were playing) and the front page story was, “Catherine Howard Makes An Appearance At Hampton Court; Ghostbusters Are Called In To Do An Investigation” [Laughs] on the EXACT same night we were singing the song.
We were touring in England, and we were staying at this place called the Wild Boar Inn, which is this beautiful, gigantic, old Tudor hotel, and it was just me, my husband and his roadie. We came in and we got our keys and went to our respective rooms, and it had to be around eleven o’clock at night, and we heard children’s laughter and kids’ footsteps. (You know how kids’ footsteps are pretty fast and thumpy? They’re not quiet because they’re just having fun.) So they’re running up and down the hall, and my husband was like, “Who’s running around? Where are their parents?” So every time he would open the door, his roadie, who was staying across the hallway, would open his door, and the two of them would look at each other like, “Did you do that?” “No, did you?” But you could never see anybody running up and down the hall. It was really strange. So they did it three or four times; he’d get back in, sit and watch television, relax, and then you’d hear the kids in the hallway again.
So then my husband starts sneaking to the door to open it really fast, but he still can’t catch anybody running up and down. It was really weird. So he says, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m just going to pretend we’re sleeping.” And he had his camera, so he said, “Let’s see if we pretend to be asleep whether or not it still happens.” So I said, “Okay,” and we lay in the bed, and he has his camera ready (it’s an old-fashioned camera with the flash on top), and we’re just laying there with the lights off, and we hear the children’s voices at the end of our bed loud and clear. It’s no longer in the hallway, it’s in our room at the end of our bed. And it’s pitch black, totally dark, and he goes to reach for his camera, and I grabbed his arm and dug my nails in like, “Where the heck do you think you’re going?! Don’t leave me, because if I can’t feel you and can’t see you, I don’t know where you are!” But he grabbed his camera and started taking pictures at the end of the bed. Believe it or not (and this was back in the day when most people used real film), the guy who developed the film said, “Oh, there was nothing really on it,” and he’d thrown it all away without us getting a chance to see it. We’re looking for different things than normal, you know, smiley-face pictures; we’re looking for light beams or anything, really, so we never got a chance to see that film.
What did happen was that the next day we were packing up our stuff and leaving, and as I was looking at the pictures on the wall in the hallway, there were all these portraits of children; as we were going through all these other halls to get to the main desk, everything else had a nautical theme, like ships and ducks and landscape pictures, but our hallway seemed to be the only one that had pictures of children. So we get to the front desk, and the woman said, “So, how was your stay?” And we’re like, “Yeah, it was really good. It was interesting.” And I looked at her and said, “Look, I just have a really crazy question. Were there any children staying here last night?” and she said, “No, and there was absolutely nobody on your floor, because we knew that you guys needed it to be quiet.” (That’s in our rider for traveling.) But she said, “No, we didn’t have any children in the area at all.” So I said, “Okay, well does anybody talk about hearing the sounds of children throughout the night? Because we heard kids all night long.” With that, the woman who was checking us out gets up and walks away from the front desk, goes into the back room and never comes back to talk to us.
So she sent the manager out to deal with us, and the woman said, “Is everything okay?” And I’m like, “Yeah, it’s just that it was kind of curious; we heard children’s laughter, and it sounded like they were playing with a ball and running up and down the hallway all night, well after eleven o’clock, and I was just wondering if anybody else had experienced it, because the girl said that nobody that age was in the hotel last night.” And she told me that the maids complain about that all the time, that the maids swear they hear children’s voices, and then they turn around and the toilet paper is missing off the maid’s cart, or keys that they’re supposed to use for the rooms are missing. You know, these mischievous little spirits. She said they have that all the time, only on that floor, and then she went on to say that it used to be a nursery that burnt down, and there were some children that got trapped and killed in the fire. I have goosebumps telling you that right now. So when you asked me if there are things that have freaked me out, that’s definitely one that comes to mind! But she definitely acknowledged it, and we had no idea in advance what we were in store for.
A friend of ours owns a castle, and he’d close it down when our band would come to town. We asked him if he ever saw anything, and he said, “You know, I never sleep at night.” And this guy had been through wars, had really seen it all and done it all, speaks nine languages fluently, and he was amazing, very worldly and not scared easily, but he told us that every night when the sun went down, he’d hear what sounded not like footsteps, but like something hopping. So he kept a gun on him at all times, and he could only sleep when the sun went up.
We went into a restaurant the other day called DEKS, which is one of our local restaurants in Rocky Point; it’s from the 1800s, and my six-year-old says, “You know, mommy, this place is hundreds of years old.” And I said, “You know what, you’re right. Ask Dean (the owner) and he’ll tell you all about it.” And my daughter goes, “Well, in that back table over there I see three ghosts.” And I’m like, “You do?” And she said, “Yeah, I see an older girl (college age), a younger boy, and a younger girl.” And she always talks about the same back table, and when Dean came out, he said, “Oh yeah, if anybody’s sensitive, that’s where they always see things, is exactly that back table.” It’s this old kind of woody bar, not modern or plastic-y at all, very dimly lit, and it’s a place we’ve liked coming since we moved out here in ’94. But every year at Halloween they tell people stories about things they’ve experienced and seen. It’s so interesting for a child to be able to pick up on this as well, though. I think it’s just amazing.
We wound up getting the idea for our song “Ghost of a Rose” from a movie called Hilary and Jackie, and it was all about Jacqueline du Pré, the famous cellist who came down with MS. The story was amazing and cathartic and heartbreaking all at once, but her signature piece is Elgar’s Cello Concerto, so we took a bit of that and weaved it into this song. But the title of the song actually came from my grandfather; he was ninety-two, and he used to always sing this song, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” (it’s an old standard), and one day I went into 7-11 and they had these plastic red roses encased in this plastic wrap, and if you pressed the stem, it would play a different song. So this particular rose sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”, and I thought, “Oh, I have to get that for grandpa.” Brought it home, and of course it got lost in a million other things in my office room, and I never got the chance to give it to him. It was there for years, like I want to say eight total, and I didn’t really get to see him that often as it was, but I’d always forget to bring it to him on those occasions.
So sure enough, the day that he’d passed, that song was kind of ringing into my head. So just to get my mind off it, I went into my office room and decided I needed some focus and direction, and I just started majorly cleaning. So I took everything out, was organizing, and behind this giant pile of stuff was the rose. It had so much dust on it, and I’m pressing the button to see if it’d work, and it was just completely dead. I remember thinking, “Oh, how fitting. The rose’s battery had died after all these years, grandpa’s gone, and it kind of makes sense.” So I finished cleaning, and it took me hours in that room, but it was good because it gave me a positive release. And as I started finishing tying up the last garbage bag, I went to walk out of the room, and the rose (in the garbage bag) started playing by itself. I didn’t touch it. It’s already in the bottom of this bag, it starts playing, but it was playing in such a warped way, because obviously the battery was completely trashed. So it’s playing this really warped version of the song, and it went around three times of making it through the song, and then it stopped. And it never played again. For me, that was the symbolism that he was letting me know that he was okay, and that although he wasn’t physically here, he was where he was supposed to be and he was still with me. He’d transitioned to the other side, but he’d probably always be with me, because if their memory is with you, you know, energy doesn’t die. It made me feel better that the rose played after all those years of not remembering to give it to him, and that he used it, however weakly it played, to let me know he was alright.
For years my grandmother used to come and sit at the edge of my bed when I was going to sleep at night; my brother was two years younger than me, and whenever grandma was around I’d try to sneak into his room and terrorize him and then sneak back into my bedroom, so it got to the point where she’d at first sit on the stairs, and then she just started sitting on the edge of my bed. So I remember doing the usual thing one night and laying in bed, and my grandmother had passed at that point (I was twelve, and that was really hard for me), but I remember I was thinking about going to bother my brother, and I felt somebody sit on the edge of my bed. I remember acknowledging it in my head, thinking, “It’s probably my mom,” and so I jumped up, and I swear, I just went through this mist. I immediately felt calm and peaceful, like my whole heart just melted, and I laid back down and remember looking up and seeing the figure of a person (which, in my brain, I knew was my grandma), and someone standing behind her, and that was my grandfather. I remember seeing them, acknowleding it, and going to sleep in that peaceful state. And it was such an amazing feeling, because it was such a deep, peaceful feeling that I’ve never felt that again in my life. I don’t know if they wanted to let their presence be known, but they also just didn’t want me to freak out…I don’t know, I can’t understand it, and I’d never be a person who claims to be able to, but I just find it fascinating. I just think it’s an incredible topic.
To most of the world, Candice Night is the lead vocalist for Blackmore’s Night, the medieval folk rock act founded by her husband, ex-Deep Purple/Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. But to her two kids, 6-year-old Autumn and 4-year-old Rory, Night is mom, a role she takes very seriously. So much so that when she decided to follow up her 2011 solo debut Reflections with a children’s album, last year’s Starlight Starbright. It was a labor of love that initially came out of her desire to ensure that her voice would be the first and last sound her first child would hear waking up or going to sleep. Recording the music was looked as a backup plan in the event that Night was too tired to sing, which wound up never being the case. It instead evolved into becoming a project that the Hauppauge native hoped would help other parents bond with their children, a point she excitedly made over lunch at a diner two minutes from her Long Island home.
“I thought it might be interesting to record these songs for the parents, moms or dads who feel that they can never sing to their child. It’s kind of robbing a child of that intimate pleasure of that bonding moment with their parents. So I thought even if the parent sat and rocked their child and played a soothing CD, it would just really relax them so much and be a soothing memory and moment,” she said. “Even if they didn’t later on physically remember it, it’s in there. That’s where I ended up fleshing it out and adding the rest of the songs and instrumentation and perfecting the whole thing.”
The end result is a collection of 13 songs that includes an airy arrangement of “Rock a Bye Baby” gently pushed along by acoustic guitar and recorder, originals (the buoyantly delicate “Robin Redbreast”) and selections from the John Denver (the baroque-flavored “Annie’s Song”) and Kenny Loggins canons (a wistful “Return to Pooh Corner”). Equally effective are Night’s forays into film for a piano-kissed reading of “So This is Love” from Cinderella and a nod to Marilyn Monroe’s lightly bouncy “Down in the Meadow” from the 1954 western River of No Return. There are also parts of Starlight that make it a family affair, from the gorgeous acoustic guitar arrangement that Blackmore came up with for “Sleep Little Baby,” whose tempo was based on the rhythm created by the cadence of his then-infant daughter’s bassinet. The couple’s daughter Autumn even has co-writing credit for “Lullaby in the Night,” a fact that Night is fiercely proud of.
“[Autumn] has always been one of these kids who gets up and belts out a song about brushing her teeth. When she was three and a half, she was sitting in a big rocking chair that I would rock her to sleep in and I was outside of the room folding laundry. She was outside singing a song she made up herself holding her dolls with these words and melody she made up. It was just so natural for her and she was sitting there, rocking away and singing the song,” Night recalled. “Like mommarazzi, I ran and got the camera and videoed her doing it. I was right outside the door and got her doing it. When the producer came, I said we had to do this. It’s not like anything I would write. It was coming from such a pure perspective. She makes up stuff all the time. This was the first wow moment. There are also lullaby stories she’s written and she continues to write.”
The feedback Night has gotten from fans is also rewarding. Not only hasStarlight, Starbright wound up being used to provide a tranquil atmosphere in places like pediatricians’ offices and birthing centers, she’s also gotten other kinds of rewarding feedback. One mother, whose daughter has sensory issues, shared how family dinners had now become a regular occurrence since the music on this CD was the only thing that would keep her child content enough to break bread with her siblings and parents. Or how the proprietors of a local bagel store regularly play the album on the commute home to decompress from the day’s pressures. Most intriguing was a story Night heard during an NPR interview she did having to do with a dog that had previously been a bait animal and was being rehabilitated.
“This man has a pitbull that was used as a bait dog and said he used to play the dog classical music or jazz, because he was understandably skittish,” she explained. “But he said as crazy as it sounds, my CD was the dog’s new favorite CD. He said he could get the dog in the car and could drive him places. The CD is on and the dog is sitting in the back of the car, relaxed. So all these things I never thought about are such amazing gifts for me to hear.”
Blackmore’s Night Will be appearing on Oct. 14 at The Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St., Patchogue. For more information, visit www.patchoguetheatre.com or call 631-207-1313.
Candice Night is always thinking about music. So when the singer – best known for her work with guitarist husband Ritchie Blackmore (ex-Deep Purple, Rainbow) in the medieval/renaissance/folk duo Blackmore’s Night – was pregnant with the couple’s first child, she began thinking about lullabies to sing to her daughter. Night and Blackmore have two children: Autumn, now 6, and son Rory, 4.
From these initial thoughts would eventually come Night’s new album of children’s bedtime songs, “Starlight Starbright.” Her ethereal, calming vocals are a perfect fit for lullabies. Night’s collection features classics like “Rock a Bye Baby,” a beautiful cover of John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” and a handful of Night originals.
We recently spoke with Night about “Starlight Starbright.” While she won’t be singing lullabies, you can catch her with Blackmore’s Night on Sunday, Oct. 16, at The Strand Theater in Lakewood.
When and how did you get the idea to write a children’s album?
When I was pregnant with my daughter I had headphones on my belly so the child would be able to hear music. It’s such a strong foundation to have music present in a child’s life. I had visuals of me sitting in a rocking chair and softly singing songs to my child, even just humming relaxing, soothing tones to her. It’s the most pure, most innocent bonding moment, to be surrounded by love and comfort and woven into this amazing land of sleep and dreams. I recorded a few songs in demo form on the off chance that after I gave birth that I would be too tired to sing to her.
How did that evolve into making an album that would be available commercially?
I would tell my friends about what I was doing and they would say, “I never sing to my child because it would scare them!” It completely hit me that it’s a really true emotion. That people are actually afraid to sing to their children because they’re not confident enough in their own vocal ability. Part of me got very sad inside. Your child doesn’t know if you’re in tune or pitch perfect. So I said, ‘I’m going to take the demos and make them into songs so that other parents can use them.’
The album has connected not only with children but adults as well and even animals
I’ve had so many people come to me from different walks of life and tell me this is not just a kids CD. I had someone tell me their mother was in hospice and a week before she passed away they wanted her to be surrounded by positive messages for her transition to the other side and all they did was play “Starlight Starbright” and their mother had a smile on her face as she passed. A guy who works with rescue dogs, some of them are emotionally and mentally shell-shocked and he had a dog that was scared to get in the car so he could take him to a park. He said he played “Starlight Starbright” and the dog came in the car. Another person told me that her daughter had sensitivity issues and she played the CD and it was the first time her daughter was able to sit through dinner. It’s so emotional. I get tears when I talk about it.
How did you go about writing your original songs for the album?
Usually when I write for myself the melody and lyric line come all at once. For “Robin Redbreast” I was outside gardening on a beautiful spring day and the melody came to me. It was the perfect alignment of everything coming together, a beautiful spring day, my hands in the earth creating new life. For me it’s easier to create that way.
Your daughter Autumn gets a co-writing credit on “Lullabye in the Night.”
For one, “Lullabye in the Night,” she was 1 ½ and I’m folding laundry in the hallway and I hear her in her room and she’s got her dolls and sitting in the big rocking chair and she makes up this song out of nowhere and she created music and lyrics. She wrote “Lullabye in the Night.” I heard her just rocking and singing it and it was so beautiful. It was more than the lyrics and the music, it was that moment of purity and innocence and giving everything she had in the love sense to her babies, which were her dolls. For her music is like breathing.
Her stories are also in the booklet of the album.
She makes up these incredible stories. One of them “Cricket’s Love Song,” we’re sitting outside at night watching the stars and we heard the crickets singing and she said they’re singing to the moon. I said, ‘oh yeah,’ and let her go off on her trail. She told me how there was this one cricket who was in love with the moon and would sing to the moon every night but the moon was so far away and wouldn’t hear the cricket. And the cricket got all her family and friends to sign together in a chorus and finally the moon was able to hear the song of the crickets. I love it.
What made you pick John Denver’s “Annie’s Song”?
When Ritchie and I got married I asked him to pick the wedding song. I’m so emotionally tied to so many songs I cannot narrow it down. He chose the John Denver song and I thought, that’s perfect. I still sing that song to my kids. For that song, and so many other songs, like the Disney song (“Baby Mine” ) and the Cinderella song (“So This Is Love”), I just found that there are so many songs that if you look at the miracle child you just created, so many of these songs translated and can be used in these intimate and pure moments of sleeptime and expressing your love to your child.