Michael Bolton sings for the saints in Assisi

Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:33am EST
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By Philip Pullella

ASSISI, Italy (Reuters Life!) - Michael Bolton has gone from Dancing with the Stars to singing for the saints.

"I feel humbled here," Bolton said after recording the traditional Christmas concert in the frescoed basilica of St Francis of Assisi with Israeli singer Noa and New York conductor Steven Mercurio.

"I feel humbled to be reminded of the teachings of St Francis, which I was introduced to at a very young age. I don't know anyone who is not moved by his story," he said.

With Giotto's awe-inspiring frescoes of the scenes in the life of St. Francis on both sides of him, Bolton sang "The Prayer," "O Holy Night," and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for the concert that will be broadcast on Eurovision on Dec 25.

The Umbrian hill town where St Francis lived 800 years ago is a long way from New Haven, Connecticut, where Bolton was born into a family of Russian Jewish immigrants 57 years ago.

"There is something special about this place. I have performed in churches and cathedrals and holy sites but there is something about being in the presence of everything that has been inspired by St Francis," he said.

"So, you are cognizant of this while you are learning your changes and your notes and everything else, but before it was time to sing, I kept finding myself getting very quiet, very tranquil and very respectful of where I am," he said.

But Bolton, who began his career as a hard rocker in the 1970s and has since delved into many other musical styles and ventures that have put him in the spotlight -- most recently in the 11th edition of Dancing with the Stars -- said he had no trouble melting into the background in a place like Assisi.   Continued...

<p>Michael Bolton sings during a traditional Christmas concert in the frescoed basilica of St Francis of Assisi, central Italy, December 19, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer</p>