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Pianist Imbesi Takes on a Bing Crosby Classic

Cover of Windham Hill's 'I'll Be Home for Christmas'
Cover of Windham Hill's 'I'll Be Home for Christmas'

When the record label Windham Hill was assembling its newest holiday compilation, a last-minute decision on the CD's cover image led to a change in song selection, and Giovanna Imbesi got an emergency call.

The composer and pianist got a tough assignment from the label: Come up with a version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas," the song famously sung by Bing Crosby; and do it in five days. The result ended up as the CD's title track.

Music stores are chock full of compilations and covers of holiday standbys. How does an artist approach a song that's been so often -- and expertly -- performed? Imbesi talks with NPR's Alex Chadwick about how she handled the task. Chadwick visited her at her home studio in Santa Monica, where she performed on her vintage Steinway piano.

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Alex Chadwick
For more than 30 years, Alex Chadwick has been bringing the world to NPR listeners as an NPR News producer, program host and currently senior correspondent. He's reported from every continent except Antarctica.