YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – “Unexpected” is the title of Marie Osmond’s latest album and it also describes its music and impact.
Released in December, the album debuted in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Classical Crossover chart – the domain of big voices like Andrea Bocelli and powerhouse symphonies that strike a pop nerve.
It’s the first of Osmond’s 12 albums to debut in the top spot, and the first time any of her records hit No. 1 since her 1973 debut, “Paper Roses,” did so on the country charts.
But the bigger surprise for many might be the 17 songs on “Unexpected” – a mix of classic tunes from Broadway, movies and the opera repertoire.
Osmond delivers them with crystalline beauty in her soprano voice. Set against a backdrop of lush orchestration, the songs are unhurried and majestic.
She’ll give audiences a taste of “Unexpected” and much more from her canon when she brings her Christmas tour to Powers Auditorium in Youngstown on Dec. 8. Osmond will be backed by the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra for the show.
The 63-year-old Osmond has had an almost unprecedentedly long career for a female artist, performing in all or part of six decades.
The only female sibling in her musical family, she followed her brothers onto the pop charts as a teenager. She went through many musical phases throughout her career, from teenage country singer, to Broadway, film, her own television show, and the Donny and Marie residency in Las Vegas. But the classical nature of “Unexpected” came as a surprise.
In a phone interview, Osmond explains that it always was a part of her.
“I was always the weird Osmond who loved the Great American Songbook,” she says. Osmond realized she had an operatic voice in the 1990s when she was training for her stints in the Broadway musicals “The Sound of Music” and “The King and I.”
Her vocal coach said, “You are a natural high soprano and could sing opera if you want,” Osmond recalls. “So, I did it, just to challenge myself.”
The “Unexpected” album was not meant to be a moneymaker. “I just wanted to do it,” she says. “It was a labor of love because I love the genre. But people are finding it.”
The album, in fact, did something that her brothers’ band never managed to do in its 1970s heyday – hit the charts in the top spot.
“My brothers said to me, ‘You kicked our butts,’” Osmond says with a laugh.
After the 11-year run of the Donny and Marie act in Las Vegas ended in 2019, Osmond has been choosing to do a lot of things on her bucket list and on her own terms.
“I worked in Vegas five nights a week with Donny, and I don’t want to work that hard anymore!” she says. “I have so many other things, including my children and my charity, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.” That charity, which she co-founded in 1983, has raised more than $6 billion for dozens of hospitals nationwide.
Her current tour is part of her current emphasis on doing what she wants. It will play 14 theaters between Thanksgiving and Christmas, mainly in the Northeast, the Midwest and Canada.
With the pandemic all but a memory and the concert industry back to full steam, Osmond wanted to perform for her fans again.
“It was lovely that people came to see me in Vegas, but it’s time for me to come and see them,” she says.
Christmas shows are something she’s always loved, and she’s taken part in them since the early days of her career. She was a regular guest on the Andy Williams and Bob Hope holiday shows and also with the Osmond family.
“I feel we need happiness more than ever and that’s why I decided to do it,” she says of the tour. “I remember when Christmas was about family, friends and the people I love, and those are what I think are worth the time, the effort, the money, because you create memories.”
Audiences will be in the spirit of the season when they walk out of Powers Auditorium, she says.
“I’m all about sound… and the holidays are about real orchestras,” she says. “When you hear this holiday music, it will touch your soul. The music, laughter, memories … We will give it all to you.”
It’s also the time of year for giving thanks, and Osmond says she feels most grateful for her long and varied career.
“I feel so incredibly blessed,” she says.
Osmond also wanted to show her thankfulness to Youngstown – a city she’s played several times over the years – and the YSO. She picked the cities on the current tour and made sure Youngstown was on the list.
“I chose Youngstown,” she says. “I love it. I’ve been there many times. It gives me the Christmas spirit. It’s the real heart of this country and the people there are so beautiful.”
Marie Osmond: A Symphonic Christmas, with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $75 to $105 and can be purchased in advance at DeyorPac.org, by phone at 330 259 9651 and at the DeYor box office, downtown.
Pictured at top: The 63-year-old Osmond has had an almost unprecedentedly long career for a female artist.