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Darlene Love brings “Christmas” and more to INB Performing Arts Center

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 8, 2017

Darlene Love will bring her beloved Christmas show to the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane on Wednesday. (Dino Perrucci)
Darlene Love will bring her beloved Christmas show to the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane on Wednesday. (Dino Perrucci)

Darlene Love has been followed by one song for nearly the entirety of her career.

Since its appearance on 1963’s “A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector,” it’s unlikely Love has made it through a concert without at least a request for “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

The song has been covered by everyone from Mariah Carey and U2 to Joey Ramone and Lady Antebellum, and it was featured in the Tony Award-nominated jukebox musical “Leader of the Pack,” in which Love played herself, in the mid-’80s.

In 1986, the song and Love became even more inseparable after David Letterman invited Love to perform “Christmas” on his show. He then invited her back to do the same every year until his retirement in 2015, save for 2007, when a writer’s strike prevented Love from performing.

But “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is not the singer’s only claim to fame.

As a member of the ’60s girl group the Blossoms, Love contributed background vocals to hits like the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash.

She appeared in the Academy Award- and Grammy award-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom” in 2013, and has released a book, “My Name is Love,” and a solo album, “Introducing Darlene Love.”

In advance of her performance at the INB Performing Arts Center on Wednesday as part of her annual “Love for the Holidays” tour, Love talked to the Spokesman about recording “Christmas” and a new holiday to which she’s becoming attached.

Q. Phil Spector commissioned songwriters to write “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” for you. What did you think when you first heard it?

A. I always loved the song even when we were in the recording studio recording it. My only problem was doing a brand new Christmas song because I didn’t know how people were going to act toward it or if they would like it because it was a whole lot of years before “Christmas (Baby)” came along and everybody was just singing “White Christmas,” “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night” “Winter Wonderland.” For a brand new Christmas song to come along was like “OK, are y’all sure about this?” But it was such a great song and everybody was in such a great mood when we were recording it. Everybody fell in love with it during the whole process of doing the song so it was like “Maybe this is going to be good.”

Q. I read that Phil hung Christmas lights and made the studio really cold when you recorded.

A. To do a Christmas album in the middle of August in California, it was probably one of the hottest summers we were having. It was a little over 100 degrees while we were in the recording studio recording it so what Phil did to make it more Christmas-y, he had them bring in Christmas lights to put in the room and made it extremely cold inside. It wasn’t that great for our voices but to get into the mood, I guess, for recording Christmas songs, that’s what he figured out.

Q. What other songs can we expect to hear at this show?

A. We do our classics, we do a couple of gospels … I start it off with a Christmas song and I end it with a Christmas song. They get a little bit of everything when they get my Christmas show.

Q. Besides your Christmas tour, do you have any favorite holiday traditions you like to celebrate?

A. Not really. That said, now they’re starting something new with my career. It seems like the older I get the more in demand I’m starting to become. They’re starting to do Valentine’s Day shows because of my last name and I’ve been really blessed to be able to do private parties at Valentine’s Day shows … I do maybe five or six Valentine’s Day shows during the month of February. With my regular show and Valentine’s Day and Christmas, I’m booked up (laughs). I do a few shows in January, a few in February then March and April. I take the summer off except for outdoor festivals. I do a few of those and then before you know it, look up, it’s Christmas time again.

Q. Is there anything you haven’t done in your career thus far that’s still on your bucket list?

A. I have special people, artists that I would love to work with over the years, and I’ve been blessed to be able to work with them. I’m more looking towards finding a young artist that is up and coming or one of the new artists that they have out there now. I’d love to do something with one of them. I think that would be great, especially while I’m still doing this. In another 10 years, it will be a whole other ballgame … I love what I do and I’ve been blessed to be able to still do it. I just have to not take as many jobs as I used to because I don’t want to die on nobody’s stage (laughs), but I do love what I do and I love my fans. They’re so loyal.

Q. Is there anything you’d like to add?

A. I always want my fans to know how happy I am to still be able to perform for them. I tell them that in my show because a lot of people in my era don’t have the fan base they had 50 years ago and what makes mine so great is the parents are bring their children and now their children are bringing their children, so I’ve really been blessed to have that, and I want my fans to always know how much I love and appreciate them.

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