Thanks to Internet downloads, an all-Chicago Christmas album reaches a fresh new audience

After five years of gathering dust, a Christmas CD produced by most of biggest names in admusic has found new life and a new audience through?what else??the Internet.

Now the resurrected CD, “It Came upon a Midnight Clear,” can be found on every music download site, said an elated Pat Duke, one of the three album producers.

“CDBABY.com helps independent artists find an audience for their music,” said Duke, known more for his voiceover chops than for the fact he’s been writing music for 30 years.

The group of 45 people originally recorded the “Silver by Fire” CD for Sony back in 2000.

“The record label expected the group to tour, but with studio careers, kids, and the impossibility of duplicating [the album] live, we passed on touring,” said Duke.

And so their labor of love disappeared from view until this Christmas season. “Suddenly, it has traction and we’re actually seeing a profit from the album we affectionately dubbed ‘The Best Christmas Album You’ve Never Heard,'” Duke said.

Singers Bob Bowker, Jeff Morrow and Duke produced all 14 songs on the CD at CRC. The session consumed more than 200 hours of studio recording time and involved 25 musicians, eight singers and 12 recording engineers.

The vocal arrangements cover jazz, pop, soul and even a little classical thrown in for good measure.

Two of Duke’s original songs are on the “Silver by Fire” album: “The Sounds of Christmas,” and the best one, in his opinion, “Christmas in Chicago” “because it’s all about what makes Christmas so special in our city.”

Over the years, Duke has published 120 songs, and won an Emmy for composing an ABC News promotional package. “Six of my songs have been recorded on albums by a variety of artists,” he said.

“I’m currently producing a young Chicago jazz singer named Drew Michaels and writing some new songs for his album. I’ve also written music for two musicals and am working on a third.”

Pat Duke can be reached by Email: dukevoice@earthlink.net; see www.dukevoice.com.

You can even download a track here: 09ChristmasinChicago.mp3.

Now it can be told?credits for “Silver by Fire’s” “It Came upon a Midnight Clear.”

Conductor/orchestration, Cliff Colnot; arrangements, Gary Fry, Mat Morse, Butch Stewart; singers, Johnny Rutledge, Butch Stewart, Greg Ferguson, Mike Harvey, Jon Negus.

Musicians: Bob Morgan, Larry Novak, Steve Rodby, Charles Brown, Collins Trier, Mark Walker, Paul Wertic, Fox Fehling, Doug Waddell, Richie Davis, Larry Kohut, Joe Wright, Fred Nelson, Bobby Swan, Wayne Stewart, Ruben Alvarez, Lorenzo Brown, Orbert Davis, Clarence Frank, Jim Hines, Peter LaBella.

Engineers: Chris Sabold, Dave Kresl, Dennis Tousana, Gus Mossler, Hank Neuberger, Larry Hinds, Sam Fishkin, Scott Ahaus, George Warner, Steve Weeder, Mark VanBork.

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