A very Carnie Christmas

Some people know Carnie Wilson as a pop singer, a progeny of one of the most famous artists of all time (Beach Boys co-founder and mastermind Brian Wilson) with her own hit-laden and Grammy Award-nominated track record with the group Wilson Phillips.
Others know her as a TV personality with a resume that includes co-hosting "The View," hosting her own talk show "Carnie!," as well as "Bottom Line's Secret Food Cures" and acting on "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch." She also does radio and TV voice overs, is a published author of autobiographies and a cookbook, a Playboy model and a motivational speaker for health and obesity issues.
Add to that head-spinning mountain of accomplishments her new holiday album, "Christmas With Carnie," and you have the picture of an artist who, in Carnie's own words, is simply "a go-getter."
It's certainly not hard to ascertain the joyful spirit on "Christmas With Carnie," a 12-track celebration that captures many of her favorite holiday songs plus one original, "Warm Lovin' Christmastime," written by and performed with her husband Rob Bonfiglio.
Recording with producer Richard Landis and with some holiday lights strung up in the studio for the proper ambiance, the song selection ideas for "Christmas With Carnie" came from a variety of sources. She had previously recorded "Silent Night" with Wilson Phillips and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" for "Hey Santa" but felt compelled to create fresh versions for this project. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" came at the suggestion of the husband of Carnie's mother, Marilyn Wilson. "Sleigh Ride" was inspired by fellow singer Deborah Gibson's rendition.
For Carnie, however, the real joy of "Christmas With Carnie" was the chance to again add her voice to the musical lexicon that surrounds the holidays. Pop songs come and go, but Christmas music plays year in and year out, with songs that have stood the test of time but an audience with a constant appetite to hear new voices perform them.
Even as "Christmas With Carnie" comes out, she has more endeavors planned. There are several TV ideas in the works, as well as a desire to record an a capella album with her father and sister and to one day open a restaurant. Whatever she accomplishes -- and, knowing Carnie, it's a safe bet that it will be most of that list -- it will only add to a career of achievements that will go far beyond her list of pop hits.

Carnie Wilson recently took time out of her very active schedule to speak with O&AN in an exclusive interview. Here's more from the woman herself...

O&AN: I understand there is a strong Nashville connection with your Christmas album. Would you care to elaborate on that?

CW: I really had a kind of a Nashville team on this record, which was really new for me. I recorded most of the vocals for the Christmas Album in my pajamas in the basement of my house. I had a wonderful producer from Nashville named Richard Landis. He’s a wonderful old-school kinda guy who has produced Lorrie Morgan and Juice Newton in the past. I also had a wonderful arranger/producer/programmer named Jimmy Nickels who is also in Nashville. I’m just totally in love with the whole thing, and I’m starting to think that maybe I should head over there and start doing some country.

O&AN: How did you go about choosing the songs you did out of the hundreds of Christmas songs that are out there?

CW: I went with songs that are some of my favorites, and I wanted to avoid doing anything too weird like off-the-wall arrangements. I’ve seen so many people do Christmas albums where they were trying to be creative and fresh and new and different only to fall flat on their faces when they learn that no one wants to hear all of that.

People want to hear classic sounds when they listen to Christmas music not psycho Christmas, so I just tried to keep it very traditional.  A lot of the songs were chosen because of their timeless feel and classic energy. My main goal with the songs was to just have a lot of fun.

O&AN: Were there any songs that you wanted to include but ended up on the cutting room floor?

CW: I learned there are some songs no matter how traditional and classic they are that I just should not sing. I tried “O Holy Night” and it ended up sounding more like “O Holy Shit." I just can not sing that song. I love it but it just did not work. I must have tried singing it a hundred times and it was just horrible.

O&AN: You have a very active and varied career at this point in your life. Where can we look for your next project?

CW: I’m getting into television and cooking. There are like three different shows I have to choose from, and I don’t know what it is going to be, but it will be something in the cooking world. I have a cookbook already called “To Serve with Love” that I will be integrating into that.

Musically I’m not sure yet. I’m really trying to get Wilson-Phillips to do another record together in the next year, but we will have to see how that works out. We have about thirty songs that have just been sitting in the refrigerator, and it’s time to get some of that material out there. I would love to have the girls all come over every day for a month and barricade ourselves in the basement studio and put out another album all by ourselves.

O&AN: As someone who has lived through a very public battle with morbid obesity how do you make it through the holidays without avoiding temptation?

CW: Temptation is my middle name. I’m tempted all year round, and that is the truth of the matter. I have a weakness for good food, and I have a really bad sweet tooth, so for me it’s all about controlling the carbs and the sugars. The big problem is that I love to cook for people so it can be hard to avoid those things when you’ve got it under your face all the time. That’s why I want to go into television for cooking.

I would love to open a restaurant or bakery one day because I love serving people food. It will always be a huge part of my life, but what I am trying to do is create a little more balance for myself because what I have realized that what I want is never enough for me. I’ll never be satisfied because I will always want a bigger piece of cake, another scoop of ice cream and so forth. But I have had to change the way I eat and the habits I have drastically since the surgery.

I don’t eat fried foods, and if I do it’s one bite, which is very rare. I lived on French-fries before. It’s really a hard thing because it’s almost like there are little devils on my shoulder yelling at me to eat something I know I shouldn’t and it doesn’t matter if I’ve just had lunch or how many miles I’ve run that day.

The thing I have come to realize about myself is that I will always be this way. I really want to help inspire people so that they don’t feel as if they have to deprive themselves completely. The trick is to have more days of cleaner eating.

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