Ohio-based Southern gospel singer Ernie Haase is returning to Fergus Falls with his Grammy-nominated group, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, this Friday, Dec. 6 with a performance at Life Church in Fergus Falls, the third concert of the Fergus Falls Concert Association 2019-20 season. The show is part of a tour for Haase’s newest album, ‘A Jazzy Little Christmas,’ which features the four vocalists of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound along with a three-piece jazz group.
The snowfall this past weekend wasn’t enough to scare Haase away from the frozen North. “We’re not scared of the North, we’ve learned that it’s trickier to be in the South in the winter than it is the North because the North, they just push it aside and keep going,” he says, and, if anything, the snow outside will only serve to turn up the holiday spirit he hopes his concert will stir in people.
“A Jazzy Little Christmas” was released on Oct. 11 and features 14 songs including three originals, with the other 11 a mix of holiday classics and sacred songs of the season. The album is like a Christmas card to New York, a place that Haase has emotional ties to. “The whole record has a New York theme. We recorded the music there in Manhattan with the same players that played for Tony Bennett, Liza Minelli, Barbara Streissand, so it has an old vintage ‘40s, ‘50s feel, three-piece jazz band,” he says. “The New York theme doesn’t stop there, my wife and I have always, this December will be our 29th wedding anniversary, and the majority of those years, every year after Thanksgiving we go to New York to see musicals and take in the sights and sounds, so I wrote one of the 14 songs, an original, is mine and it’s called ‘Christmas in Manhattan’ and it sounds very vintage and old, and a couple of the article critiques have said this could become a new Christmas classic. We just wanted to give back to that city which has given so much to us.”
The album also includes the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which was written by an Episcopal priest in New York in 1863 and which Haase says was heralded as the first American Christmas carol. Ernie Haase and Signature Sound partnered with the charity New York Cares’ Winter Wishes program, so proceeds of the CD go toward supporting the program, which partners with family shelters, public housing facilities and public schools in New York City to provide gifts to children and teens in need during the holidays.
Ten years ago, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound put out a holiday record called “Every Light that Shines at Christmas,” but, while proud of it as a record to listen to during the holidays, Haase felt it didn’t make for good party music. He says, “Even back then, I made a mental note, I’m going to make a record that you can listen to intentionally and just be encouraged and uplifted and put in the holiday spirit, or you can turn it down in the background as you have all these friends and family, and you have these parties and it will add to the spirit, not take away, and so ‘Jazzy Little Christmas’ was born out of that desire.”
Audiences should expect a show that Haase describes as very energetic, entertaining and encouraging, but adds, “It goes to another level. When you come, you’re going to feel much better than when you walked in, it will put you in the holiday spirit very, very quickly. … We look forward to seeing all our friends in Fergus Falls. It’s been a while but we’re looking forward to coming back with this brand new show.”
The show is for Concert Association members and memberships are still available. The season membership is $45 for adults, $10 for students or $100 for families (two adults and any student children or grandchildren). In addition to Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, there are two more concerts left this season with “I Love a Piano with Tony DeSare Trio” in March and “Presidio Brass - And All That Brass” in April.