Clint Black has reasons to celebrate this holiday season. Not only is he on a Christmas tour with his wife, Lisa Hartman Black, but he’s celebrating his first theatrical musical, a new album (“The Clint Black Christmas Collection”) and the 30th anniversary of his chart-topping hit “Killin’ Time.”
Black is a member of country’s music’s fabled Class of ‘89, reaching No. 1 with five consecutive singles from his triple-platinum debut, “Killin’ Time.” He wrote or co-wrote every one of his more than three dozen chart hits, including “A Better Man,” “Where Are You Now,” “ When My Ship Comes In,” “A Good Run of Bad Luck,” “Summer’s Comin’,” “Like the Rain” and “Nothin’ But the Tailights.”
The Grammy Award-winning country music icon has sold more than 20 million records, earned more than a dozen gold and platinum awards in the U.S. and Canada, and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Earlier this month, the musical “Looking for Christmas” opened at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Based on music from his 1995 Christmas album of the same title, Black penned a few new songs for the show and worked with James D. Sasser on writing the storyline for the musical. It’s about a military family, loyalty and the magic of Christmas. In the play, Staff Sgt. Mike Randolf returns from Afghanistan and home to his family. But before Mike can open his heart to the joy and spirit of the season, he must make peace with the past and let go of the ghosts of the battlefield. The show continues at the Old Globe through Dec. 31, and Black hopes to take it on the road next year.
More locally, “A Clint Black Christmas” concert tour stops for two shows at The Event Center at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, in Charles Town, West Virginia. Shows are 9 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8 p.m. Dec. 8. Tickets are $45 to $90. Lisa Hartman Black will join him for these two shows.
We caught up with the busy singer/songwriter (and funny guy!) via email this week for an interview:
Frederick Playlist: Last time we “talked” was in March, before your concert in Frederick, which, by the way, was a great show! Now you are bringing “A Clint Black Christmas” to The Event Center at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town. And you will be joined by your lovely wife, Lisa Hartman Black. Give us a snapshot of what this show is like. Do you also work in some of your many country music hits?
Clint Black: It will be mostly hits. We haven’t rehearsed the show yet, so I can’t give much of a snapshot. We will do a bit of the Christmas collection and Lisa will join me on our duets. We also expect to have worked out something special for Lisa to do, solo.
Frederick Playlist: Your holiday musical, “Looking for Christmas,” recently debuted in San Diego. How was it received? When does the national tour launch?
CB: The national tour launches next holiday season. The reception has been great. It was a wonderful experience all the way through. Reviews have just started coming in and we’re very happy with them.
Frederick Playlist: You wrote the music and lyrics, some from your “Looking for Christmas” (1995) album and some new songs. What inspired you to turn the music into a musical and a book? What’s the storyline?
CB: It’s not actually a “book.” That refers to the spoken words in the show. James Sasser wrote the “book” initially and he and I collaborated on all the rewrites as that took about a year to complete. I have always wanted to do something more with my Christmas collection, and he and I were chatting about my interest in writing something for the theater. That led to a meeting about my “five or so” ideas and one of the them — the Christmas collection — resonated with James. We both have a strong passion for our military families and wanted it to be their story.
Frederick Playlist: What’s your role in the musical’s production? Are you (or will you be) a cast member? What’s the experience of producing a theatrical show been like for you?
CB: I won’t appear in the show, although there is a spot where a jolly bearded man comes on stage and I could sneak into that role here and there! Ha! It’s been an absolute joy to write and produce for the theater. I have had to learn a patience in the process, as it’s different from my routine. I left San Diego after opening night and it was hard to leave. I loved it.
Frederick Playlist: Are you working on any other projects, new music perhaps?
CB: I have some new music recorded and a couple of things to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of “Killin’ Time.” I don’t yet know what shape or timeframe it will all take, but I’m excited to share it all and will be pushing that boulder up the hill next!
Frederick Playlist: Back to the Christmas show. How many years have you done the Christmas tour? Is the stage set for the season, too?
CB: I’ve done them every year with only a few exceptions. We’ll have some decoration, but it’s not a “spectacular” by any means. We just like to go back out in December to give us the reason-of-the-season to play some of the Christmas songs.
Frederick Playlist: What is your favorite part(s) of the Christmas tour show?
CB: This year it will be when Lisa joins us on stage! But I also love singing the Christmas songs. No way to add those in in June!