ITunes. That’s the one word on Robbie Christmas’ mind right now. After a long-awaited arrival, the musician and songwriter has released his debut pop/rock CD, “Robbie Christmas,” for purchase on his Web site and on iTunes.
The former Inglemoor High and Cedar Park Christian student’s journey to fame, like many other musicians, began at a young age. When Christmas was 9, his teacher asked everyone in his class to audition for the solo in the Christmas play at school. While everyone thought the girl that Christmas auditioned against would win the solo, Christmas surprised the class and received the part.
“I was really close to not doing it, then I did and I went home and told my parents I wanted to be a musician,” said Christmas, now 21, whose CD includes songs like “Have Some Faith in Me” and “Save Your Soul.”
Even at a young age, Christmas demonstrated great loyalty to his music.
“I still had a dream of being an archeologist or fighting bad guys and all that stuff, but music was always paramount,” he added.
During middle school and high school, he sang in multiple school choirs and was even a member of two bands, Eclipse and Ulysses. The members of Eclipse remember the ridicule they received as they were compared to gum.
“Yeah, high school was that phase for me where I thought I was better than I actually was and I thought I was the big man on campus because I was in a band. I had my hair grown out and sideburns and I wore sunglasses indoors and all that stuff,” Christmas said.
Around the age of 12, Christmas began to experiment with instruments other than his voice. Without previously touching a drum set, he began to practice with one and eventually taught himself how to play. After teaching himself the beginning of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise,” his parents presented him with piano lessons. In addition, Christmas also taught himself how to play guitar.
About four years ago, Christmas attended a Tower of Power concert in Seattle and was introduced to keyboardist Roger Smith. While visiting Smith’s recording studio in Sacramento, Calif., a year later, Christmas nervously asked if he could play a few songs he was currently working on. Once Christmas finished, Smith asked, “Do you wanna make a record?” Christmas readily accepted the invitation and produced his first CD almost two years later.
Christmas owes his success to Smith: “He was on my team and I owe him more than I can give.”
Among Christmas’ many musical idols and inspirations is the renowned Stevie Wonder.
“He’s an example of focus and dedication. He inspired me because I see an obvious impairment he had without his sight; I have no excuse not to work as hard as he did. He spent hours and hours and hours learning how to play and he didn’t let the fact that he couldn’t see get in his way. Musically he does things that are so innovative and unlike any other person on this planet. I’m convinced he’s an angel,” he said.
Also prominently serving as inspiration are classic rockers Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel of The Band. Chief songwriter/guitarist Robertson and singer/pianist Manuel influenced Christmas to be as original as possible.
“It’s because of that band that I learned how to sing in a high voice,” he said.
Christmas’ drummer and manager, Stuart Anderson, recalls meeting Christmas for the first time at his friend’s house. Christmas was, of course, rocking out to some music with his friend; while Anderson was present, he recognized Christmas’ voice from a CD he had listened to.
“When I first heard his voice on a CD, I was saying, ‘Wow this is pretty amazing,’ and I was very impressed by his voice. I introduced myself and we jammed together on some songs. (He) has one of those voices that rises above the top,” Anderson said.
Anderson has heard many musicians of all calibers, but after hearing Christmas sing, Anderson knew he was different.
“This kid is going to go somewhere. I’ve been in the music business for a long time, and they have this thing called the ‘it’ factor, and he’s got it,” Anderson added.
While playing with Christmas, Anderson feels inspired and uplifted.
“It’s a chance in a lifetime to perform with somebody of his caliber,” he said.
While music is always first on his mind, Christmas also works part time as a library technical consultant, attends the University of Washington, Bothell as a senior and loves acting, watching movies and listening to records.
When he can find the time, Christmas escapes to his cottage in Orcas Island to relax and work on new lyrics and music.
“Growing up, it felt like I belonged there. I try to go almost every week and write,” he said. “Every little thing about the island inspires me; whether it’s from my interactions with the people, the beauty of the scenery and wildlife, or the smell of the air. Just by being in the presence of all that gives me perspective on whatever I might be dealing with at the time.”
Once Christmas graduates, he plans on pursuing his music career head on.
“I’ll be all focused on music and the band and playing as many shows as we can without killing ourselves,” he said.
After a show, Anderson and Christmas usually evaluate the performance, as well as discuss past occurrences and future aspirations for the band.
Without the constant support of his dad, Christmas expresses that he would not be this far with his music.
“My dad constantly tells me that I can do this. He says don’t worry about it; just make sure you focus. Most musicians tend to be very scattered and insecure, but with my dad he’s able to give me a different perspective,” he said.
Christmas defines music and the reason why he sings in one word: honesty.
“If it’s written from an honest place, I’d like to think that people will notice and appreciate it,” he said. “No matter where we’ve come from or how much we have in common, we are all unique. It reaches a point where you need to put aside your artistic inhibitions and be honest with yourself. There’s nothing fulfilling in trying to sound like everyone else. And if that means you talk about love when everyone is talking about hate, then at least you’re being honest with yourself.”
Occasionally, Christmas books a showing at Big Daddy’s Bar and Grill in Woodinville, where he recently received his largest audience of about 200 people.
Earlier this month, Christmas and his band celebrated their CD release with a free, all-ages performance at Seattle University.
His music is available online through iTunes, as well as at his Web site. People can also follow him on Facebook or Twitter to find out the dates of his upcoming shows.