A Soulful Christmas also will be a very happy one for Will Downing.
The R&B and jazz singer from New Jersey had to skip the 2007 edition of his annual holiday tour while fighting Polymyositis, a debilitating muscular disorder that laid him low after a tour to promote his last album, 2006’s “After Tonight,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard jazz chart.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” notes Downing, 45. “It’s without a doubt the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but the best thing that’s ever happened to me, too.
“Things get going well and you kind of take things for granted. I missed birthdays, anniversaries ... My career was moving, but I got complacent about my life. Now I balance things out a lot better. I don’t take every gig that’s available. I’ve learned there’s more important things in life other than working.”
Downing says his time on the sidelines also inspired him to adopt a new attitude about his music — including a new album that he’s “in the process of recording” with a hoped-for release next year.
“When you’ve been doing it for a long period of time, sometimes you become very complacent,” he explains. “You start repeating yourself over and over again musically. You know what’s going to work and what the public wants as opposed to having any kind of real feeling to it.
“Going through something like this makes you dig deep lyrically and say what’s really on your mind and in your heart. So it’s been enriching from that standpoint. I feel like something really good is coming out of it.”
Will Downing, Lalah Hathaway and Gerald Albright appear in A Soulful Christmas 2008 at 8 p.m. Friday (Nov. 28) at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St. Tickets are $45-75. Call (313) 237-7464 or visit www. motopera.org.