"FIRST NOEL is a Christmas album including 25 of the greatest classics as well as three exclusive new tracks I composed especially for the very first Christmas of my son, and in honor of my grandma Odette's last one, past year. The Christmas memories I have are full of wonderful moments, so I insisted on recording this album staying true to the magic of these instants.

First thing, I surrounded myself with 3 great friends of mine and long-time collaborators: François Delporte (guitar), Frank Woeste (piano) and Sofi Jeannin (choirmaster). Sofi has selected 8 singers with celestial, sublime voices. We recorded in two magical places: the studio of my friend Armand Amar - where I had the chance to work on my first albums (Babel Studios in Montreuil) - and the Church of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre. The latter being the most ancient church in Paris - only a few meters away from the Notre-Dame Cathedral - has always been at the center of significant moments in our family history in France.

My father was a sacristan there in the ’60s. It is in the sacristy that he elaborated and worked on his trumpeter career. My aunt Hind – whom I loved – also a pianist, and my beloved grandmother, Odette, both had their funeral in this church. It is also in this same church that I got engaged and married… So many milestones.

After recording many albums, I felt it was the right time for me to share my versions of those great Christmas classics, by giving them a much less childish dimension and a more musical, also spiritual one, but still preserving their subtle and necessary fragility, specific of children's music or of those great classics renowned and sang all over the world.

FIRST NOEL is an album for all ages. I produced it for my son Nael who is only a few days old, as Christmas 2021 will be his first one. It is also for my grandmother Odette, who passed away at the age of 99 a little while after spending her last Christmas with us, back in 2020. A century stands between them. A century of Christmases across time, storms, wars, and cataclysms. Nonetheless, a century of beautiful and unforgettable melodies embellishing our lives ever since our childhood.

I was hoping that FIRST NOEL would not be yet “another” Christmas album, with Frank Sinatra-like crooners and Hollywood-style arrangements. Instead, a simple, humble, instrumental album, in the original meaning, without lyrics, allowing the melody to be at the center of it all. Soothing music to dream, to reunite us, regardless of our mother tongue, our age, our culture and more importantly regardless of our religion.

That is how Odette viewed things, and this is also the way I wish Nael and Lily, my children, would listen to the world."

Concert dates

  • 06/12/21 Cirque Royal, Brussels
  • 07/12/21 De Roma, Antwerp
  • 08/12/21 Jazz à Liège​

IBRAHIM MAALOUF – FIRST NOEL Out on November 5th, 2021

Pre-order the new album HERE

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