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“Queen of Christmas”- Elizabeth Chan’s Inspiring Story Behind Latest Holiday Album

 

By Christine Montanti

 

Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Chan, known for her inventive holiday music, soulful vocals and festive storytelling, is undoubtedly “The Queen of Christmas.”  The New York-born recording artist focuses solely on producing festive hymns that celebrate the joy, love and unity associated with the spirit of the holiday season, and for over a decade, the songwriter has been captivating millions of listeners with her impressive collection of Christmas melodies.  As an artist and record producer who frequently reaches the Billboard charts and who has been nominated for numerous awards, Chan has managed to release an astonishing 13 consecutive albums every holiday season.   It’s not only her latest studio album, “Songs from Noelle,” which she co-wrote and sang with her daughter Noelle that critics are raving about, but also Chan’s personal story of unwavering strength. After suffering from a serious injury this summer, the musician was left temporarily paralyzed, unable to breathe, and did not know if she would ever be able to sing or perform again.

Growing up in Manhattan, Chan’s musical journey began early on at the age of six with a deep love for Christmas.  At that time, the singer knew that Christmas singing and songwriting was what she wanted to do with her life, and her multicultural background and Filipino heritage had an important influence on her harmonious style.   Filipinos traditionally celebrate Christmas music from September through January and Chan’s affection for the holiday season inspired her to focus her talent on creating original Christmas songs that would capture the hearts of listeners and resonate worldwide.  When the songwriter launched her debut LP “Everyday Holidays” in 2011, she obtained her first Billboard hit, and since the start of her incredible musical journey, Chan has written an astounding 1500 Christmas songs.

This recording artist, hailed “The Queen of Christmas” by The New York Times, Good Morning America, and People Magazine to name a few, currently resides in Battery Park City with her husband Andy Fraley, a graphic designer and her two adoring daughters, Noelle age six and Eva age two.  Unfortunately, during the summer, a terrible accident occurred while Chan was bathing her youngest daughter, Eva. After just returning home from the hospital where Eva was treated for a medical issue and while taking Eva out of the bathtub, Chan slipped and fell in the bathroom seriously injuring herself and breaking her spine.  Chan was immediately seen by a neurosurgeon and several other specialists who discovered she was paralyzed in her left leg.  

The critically acclaimed songwriter’s injury was extremely debilitating causing her to face challenging obstacles that she bravely sought to overcome.  “As a recording artist, my body is also my instrument, and I needed to be able to stand and walk.  You use your body for breathing and your diaphragm is connected to your spine, so my muscles became weak because I wasn’t able to walk.” 

With many of Chan’s songs playing annually as top 10 hits on the Holiday and Adult Contemporary charts, the singer, who is incredibly passionate about her Christmas music, didn’t think she would physically be able to release another Christmas album this holiday season. The timing of the accident was horrible for Chan because the summertime is when Chan produces her new holiday music.  “I was more devastated with the idea of not doing another Christmas album and letting my fans down.  After talking to my band, nobody wanted me to miss Christmas, and I just started crying.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it this year because I literally couldn’t stand. I was having trouble breathing, and I was in so much pain. I think what was more painful was not the physical pain from the accident, but rather the pain that I would not be able to put out another Christmas record.  My friend Dave said that he really believed it was his responsibility to help my healing by helping me continue recording, and that was so touching!” 

Chan’s oldest daughter Noelle inspired the singer’s healing and recovery by offering to participate and to be featured on her mom’s latest holiday album entitledSongs from Noelle.” “Despite my injury, I was still able to produce; I was just not able to walk.  I was in a tremendous amount of pain, and I couldn’t even sit.  I was laying down with a laptop on my side listening to the music and taking notes when my daughter, who was sitting with me, said, “Mom, I can help you. I can sing!” My six-year-old daughter Noelle grew up hearing all of my Christmas music, and she has all the vibrato and confidence in the world.  My band has watched Noelle grow up, so they took her just as seriously, as an artist, as they do me while we worked together remotely. Noelle came into this project with so much joy and love, and she just wanted to help her mom because of her graciousness and generosity.  For Noelle, it was just fun; there was no pressure there.”  Remarkably, one of the Christmas songs Noelle wrote and sang entitled “Christmas Time” on Chan’s recent holiday album is getting airplay on SiriusXM’s rotation.  Adoring fans have already named Noelle the “Princess of Christmas.”

As far as her recovery is going, the producer reveals, “I have been blessed to have physical therapists and doctors who were very focused in trying to get me back and healed because I am also a mom of a two-year-old and six-year-old who need me. As a mother, I wanted to have it all but sometimes life has other plans.   You take stock of what you have at the table.  It took many months of very vigorous physical therapy and acupuncture, but I am on the other side of it now, and I am getting better.  I am so grateful I am able to walk normally now, but I am still in physical therapy five times a week which started in July, and I go to acupuncture for pain management two times a week.  I really owe my husband because when I couldn’t walk, he would drive me and the kids, and I am very blessed that I also live in NYC because we have some of the best doctors and spinal surgeons.”

Aside from singing and songwriting “The Queen of Christmas” undeniably enjoys spreading Christmas joy to millions and is also the CEO of Merry Bright Music, a New York City-based entertainment company that specializes in producing Christmas and holiday music releasing dozens of songs globally.   Chan reflects on how Christmastime has inspired her entire musical career and journey.  “Christmastime had such a big impact on me because it was mostly about family, food, music and singing, and it was a big part of how I was raised.  I have a very large extended family; on Christmas Eve all of my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents would come together on this one night, from all over the country, and we would celebrate and appreciate Christmas together.  I understood at an early age that music was really powerful for memory, and that music makes the moment; I sang at so many friends’ weddings since I was very little, only eight years old.  Everyone was asking me to be their singer for their most special moments; even my high school teacher asked me to sing at his wedding. Throughout my life, I always loved music and recognized that I got a positive response when I sang.” 

Chan admits she takes absolutely nothing for granted. “The act of putting out this album was cathartic, and it was a healing process for me because I feel if I didn’t release this album, I honestly might not have been as healed as I am today. I would have been mentally down!”  

 

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