Vocalist Margo Rey’s Christmas classic, “This Holiday Night” has become a staple of December. A vision of the holidays as seen through the eyes of a child, the beautiful song conjures up warm images of family tradition and memories of years gone by.
Rey describes her style of music as ‘Organica’; a unique blend of musical texture and groove, but it’s the infectiousness of her voice that really makes you stand up and take notice. Her album, “Habit” remained on the charts for an astonishing 21 weeks and contained the singles “Let the Rain” and “Saturn Returns”, both co-written with the legendary John Oates.
Her latest single, a cover of the Squeeze song “Tempted” adds her distinctive vibe to the classic 80’s hit.
In addition to her amazing vocal prowess and songwriting skills, Rey’s personal mission really makes her a true inspiration. A cancer warrior, Rey volunteers her time and talent to Brides Against Breast Cancer, an organization that contributes to programs for cancer patients and their families while raising funds in a rather cool and unique way.
A recent bride herself, Rey is married to comedian Ron White. While presenting an interesting dynamic, their relationship is a communion of two artists in awe of each others craft, while not being in competition with each other.
I spoke with Rey about her passion, her music and her cause.
You consider your style of music ‘Organica’. How would you describe it?
It’s an unorthodox hybrid of adult pop music that’s deeply rooted in jazz and R&B grooves with a lot of ambient vocals and texture. I like my vocals to be lush and for them to be an instrument as well.
Tell me the origin of your song “This Holiday Night”.
I really wanted to write a song that sounded like a Christmas classic. A song about the way a child experiences all the goings on in a house around the holidays. I had this idea that it was going to be a waltz and I wanted every line to end with “this holiday night”. I started out writing the melody, chords and most of the lyrics and then called up my friend Barrett Yeretsian, who had been working on songs for my “Habit” album. The two of us started kicking around images of what the holidays were like when we were growing up. We put the pieces together and that’s how it happened.
Let’s discuss a few tracks that you wrote with John Oates from the “Habit” album.
Let The Rain
John and I actually wrote “Let The Rain” the day that we first met. He had written some chords based on some of my music and when I heard it, I remember saying, “I think I have something for that.” It was a melody and lyrics that I had written around the time Ron and I were getting engaged. I had a lot of verses, but wasn’t quite sure what to make the chorus about. That’s when I told John about how I used to love playing in the rain with my Mom in the summer’s in Texas and he told me to write the song about that. So we came up with the melody for the chorus together and from there it took on a life of its own.
I had just been diagnosed with cancer four days before our writing session and the doctors were trying to get me to stay to get an MRI. I said, “No way, man! I’m going to write a song with John Oates” [laughs]. I remember telling that story to John and his eyes got really big and he was worried. I said “No! No! I’m going to be fine. This is a cancer free zone!” I showed him a chorus that I had been working on and he thought it was fantastic, but he told me that it has to be my story. So I went back to my condo that night, wrote the rest of the lyrics and we put it all together the next day.
Tell me a little about your most recent single, “Tempted”.
I’ve always loved the band Squeeze and that song always made me happy whenever I sang it. So when my radio team approached me about releasing a cover song, I told them that I wanted to do “Tempted”, but with an R&B groove.
Did you always want to be a singer?
When I was young, I used to always sing in the grocery cart whenever I was at the store with my mom. I would always sing a lot of crooner songs by Nat King Cole, Engelbert Humperdinck or Hank Williams. Then one day when I was 4, I was at my brother’s school play when this girl who was supposed to sing “Oh Jolly Playmate” started crying because she had suddenly developed stage fright. I remember going up to the school principal and telling him that I could sing, and that I knew all the words. So he let me go out and sing in front of 300 people.
A lot of things crystallized for me in that moment. It was the first time that I had ever sang with a mic and saw my shadow in the spotlight behind me. I knew right then that it was something that I wanted to do and so a few years later, I started classical training.
Let’s discuss your involvement with Brides Against Breast Cancer.
I volunteer a lot my time towards this cause and this past May, they selected me as a National Ambassador. The money they raise goes to providing free programs and services to people living with cancer. Programs people need where the doctor kind of leaves off; like wellness, nutrition and counseling. They even provide these services for family members too.
The really cool thing is how they raise money: by having brides and gown designers donate their wedding gowns. Some of the gowns that are donated by designers are unused, while others may have only been used one time. Then they’ll take the gowns that are donated on a “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” that travels to roughly 120 cities a year, selling them at a discounted price. I travel to some of the events to tell my story and to inform people about how important it is to provide these services. What better way is there to give that dress that made you so happy a life of its own than to make someone else happy and also provide programs and services to people who need them? It’s a win-win.
What’s next for you?
I’m putting together an arsenal of songs to release in the coming year. A ballad called “Colors Never Fade” that’s about standing up to what it is that scares you and never fading or getting washed out in a sea of gray. “Beautiful Train Wreck” is a song that has a cool, funky groove. It’s about how we’re all beautiful even when we’re in the midst of being a train wreck. We’re all trying to find our way. Then there’s “Happy”, which is another song that I wrote with John [Oates]. It’s about the simplicity of just being happy and how it’s never too late to be kind.
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