“Out of the tree of life I just picked me a plum,” croons the fabulous and fantastic Peter Fox.
Fox today stands on the brink of stardom, if there’s any justice in the music industry. Of course justice in the music industry is an oxymoron.
As a singer in the jazz and adult contemporary spotlight now, with the issue of his first and self-titled CD, Fox is certainly ready for prime time. But meanwhile the business model of the once robust recording industry has fractured into splinters of its former self, as CD sales have nosedived.
So how does someone like Fox, having spent nine seasons with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (GMCW), and who also recently wrapped up a three-year run with the close-harmony pop acapella group Potomac Fever, market himself?
Fox is avoiding record labels and concert promoters to do it himself. “I went the independent route because music is in my soul and the independent route with the available tools and reach of the Internet is now actually a feasible way to reach a fairly major audience, allowing me to do what I’m meant to be doing,” he says.
A longtime GMCW audience favorite, Fox has picked a plum opportunity with the songs on his new album, recently launched at a special concert at the Kennedy Center restaurant veranda. He is as easy to like as he is easy on the eyes — and his charm is rooted in the easy listening of his sound and his lyrical first tenor voice so sweet with feeling as well as perfect pitch and phrasing.
The songs are each special to him, as explained in the album liner notes at his website, PeterFoxMusic.net, including “When You Meet an Angel,” a number first performed with the GMCW at the Lincoln Theatre. The angel theme will be familiar to his fans, who recall vividly his bare-chested starring role recently as heartthrob “Teen Angel” in the Chorus’s production of “Grease.” Speaking of the song, Peter admits that he had just broken up with someone who was sitting in the third row on opening night, but he recalls also that the song “later came to mean more” to him, “as a few dear family members and friends passed on to their next chapter.”
Another song, “Nightfall,” is a deeply layered ode to living a life without a lover but with the “extraordinary love I have shared with friends.” He declares finally in the song, “I am contented to be my own family, a family of one!”
Peter says, “it took me some tome to really grasp the various levels of message in this song, but I now so appreciate and deeply understand that one’s life can be so rich and full without any typical idea of the modern primary relationship.” Indeed, he says, “the song speaks to gratitude, the simple joy of just accepting what is.”
But one song alone stands out for its utter perfection of lyric and melody, “I Can Hold You,” written by David Friedman, the composer, record producer and Hollywood film score composer for Disney animated features like “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas” and “Beauty and the Beast,” for which Friedman was also music supervisor for the Broadway stage version.
Friedman is the author of many astonishing songs of inspiration, hope and love — collected in several CDs such as “Listen To My Heart: The Songs of David Friedman” (2002) and 63 of his best-known songs are also in his “Songbook.” Fox has taken one of them, “I Can Hold You,” he calls it “one of the most tender songs” on the album, a song he first recorded in 2005 but is now completely remixed and remastered — because “the song speaks to hope.”
“I am most struck by the way the singer offering to hold another who has been battered by life may really be wishing to be held in the same way,” he admits.
Fox, who grew up in New Jersey and had a boyfriend “discreetly” in high school, earned his BS in business administration from Penn State University, and came out to his family in his early 20’s. He spent seven years in Pittsburgh as a paramedic and then spent two years on the road as a long-haul trucker saying of that time,”I basically spent two years by myself.” He moved to D.C. in 1997 to work in the health care field and “do music.”
“Music is a conduit to what’s right,” he says. “Let’s get people connected to the joy of their own stories through song.”
His album is available now for $10.99 from PeterfoxMusic.net.