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Pentatonix to share season's greatest hits at John Paul Jones

Recording a greatest-hits album is an achievement in itself. Making enough holidays brighter for fans across the country to merit a greatest-hits Christmas album is a gift.

The Grammy Award-winning vocal quintet Pentatonix, which is heading to John Paul Jones Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday with "Pentatonix: The Most Wonderful Tour of the Year," will share plenty of selections from "The Greatest Christmas Hits." The album, released this fall to coincide with the 2023 North American tour, includes eight new songs among its 23 tracks.

"That means the set is power-packed with awesome songs," said Kirstin Maldonado, who sings in the group with Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kevin Olusola and Matt Sallee. "We’re really proud of it."

While fans are taking down their holiday decorations, the singers of Pentatonix will be gearing up for next Christmas season’s music.

"All year long, we’re having that Christmas spirit," Maldonado said. "Slowly, we’re starting earlier and earlier. When we’re starting, Christmas has still just happened."

It’s not easy for Maldonado to pick a favorite holiday song from the group’s repertoire, but lately, she particularly enjoys performing "Mary Do You Know," which she remembers fondly as "one of the first that put us on the map," and "Please Santa Please."

"I’m really proud of how that song turned out," Maldonado said. "It gives you the feeling of spinning around and around in the snow."

Choosing the final 23 holiday songs for the greatest-Christmas-hits album took time and consideration.

"We wanted it to make sense, to have a balance," she said. The singers included a mix of traditional songs, ballads and originals so fans could reach for the album throughout the winter season, and not just at holiday time.

Seal’s hit "Kiss from a Rose," for instance, isn’t a Christmas song, but its snow references made it fair game.

"Some songs are wintery," Maldonado said. "You could play it all day and be ready for anything. We wanted to be the soundtrack for people’s Christmases."

One new way Pentatonix is aiming at that mark is by taking a fresh approach to "O Holy Night," which the group originally recorded in a "chill" version in 2014.

"Now I’m getting the big, epic amazingness of that song," she said. "It’s my favorite holidays song. We’ve really grown and cultivated our Christmas arsenal of music."

Expect a mix of tempos and musical styles; remember that this is the a cappella group that won a Grammy for best country duo/group performance in 2017 for teaming up with Dolly Parton to sing "Jolene." A stripped-down segment on the current tour offers some refreshing contrast to the flashier arrangements.

"We’re doing an acoustic version this year" of some numbers, Maldonado said. "That’s something completely new that we haven’t done before. We like to keep people on their toes."

Maldonado savors the chance to bring her 16-month-old daughter along and watch her marvel at the different cities’ holiday decorations they see along the way. "Our family tradition is that she gets to come to all these shows," Maldonado said.

Maldonado said the singers truly enjoy performing together, but they relish their holidays apart.

"We always joke that our Christmas gift to each other is space," Maldonado said with a laugh. "We always get to stop before Christmas."

To help share the holiday-season feeling with local neighbors after the concert is over, audience members can bring donations of toys and nonperishable foods with them to the arena Saturday evening to give to Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

Items most needed by BRAFB at the moment include low-sodium canned soups, stews and chili; low-sodium canned vegetables; low-sugar, whole-grain cereals; low-sugar peanut butter and almond butter; whole-grain pasta and rice; canned tuna and chicken; paper products; baby food, formula and diapers; soap; feminine products; and toothbrushes. Learn more at www.brafb.org.

Planning your route to the show is strongly advised, as Emmet Street will be packed between 5 and 8 p.m.; visit www.johnpauljonesarena.com/directions.asp.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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