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Francesca Battistelli Performs with Icon Andrea Bocelli for Christmas Special

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Francesca Battistelli is not your typical Christian singer/songwriter. Born and bred in New York to a musical family, this Grammy winner’s career has seen forays into genre-bending territory ranging from jazz, to rock, to contemporary worship music.

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Now, she’s teamed up with Andrea Bocelli and TBN for a musical special: “Andrea Bocelli: The Heart of Christmas.” Filmed at the church Bocelli grew up attending in his hometown of Tuscany, Italy, the special will air on TBN December 20th at 8/7 Central.

We recently had the chance to sit down with Battistelli about the special.

Tell me about the Christmas special “Andrea Bocelli: The Heart of Christmas.” What drew you to be a part of it?

Getting to sing with Andrea was kind of a no-brainer, especially when we’re filming in Italy (laughs). It was very easy, and I’m so thankful we were asked to do it!

What was it like collaborating with Andrea Bocelli? 

It was such an honor, I mean he is an icon. So to get to sing alongside him was really just a dream come true. Still, I look back like, did that actually happen?

Francesca Battistelli Performs with Icon Andrea Bocelli for Christmas Special

Any favorite moments from the performance/collaboration?

I think for me the moment that stood out was being at the church that he (Bocelli) grew up in, which is this beautiful Italian space, and looking out over the audience and hearing his voice and singing this worshipful Christmas song, and realizing—This is really happening, this is a very special moment. I got a little choked up and had to shake it off so I could keep singing, you know?

Christmas is such an emotionally charged time for people. How do you deal with the stress and family demands around the holidays? 

I think for us, we have toured for so many Christmas seasons, any season we actually get to be home for Christmas feels like a big win. So I’m just thankful we get to be here with our kids and have Christmas morning at our house. But you know the travel and the family time, you just have to gear up and make it happen.

And you know, for me what always kind of gets me through the hustle bustle is knowing that the new year is coming. There’s a real kind of exhale that happens for me on January 1st. Like okay, here we go, time to do this thing.

You have four children, What’s your journey been like balancing the consumerism of Christmas with the deeper spiritual undertones with your kids? 

I think all kids to some degree if you don’t teach them, they’re just going to want presents and presents and presents. But my kids have surprised and impressed me the last couple years. You know they love the advent calendar, they love knowing that they’re going to go see cousins, and obviously they love presents and they’re excited for them, but you know we really try to focus on others.

The comment I heard was that [Bocelli] gets asked about his music all the time, or his personal life, but not his faith. And he wanted to really dive into that.

Literally, right now my husband is getting things for foster kids that we give gifts to every year. It’s such a beautiful season with so many opportunities to do that and really show our kids what it’s all about. Once they really taste that, that it’s more blessed to give than receive, once they’ve experienced the joy of blessing someone else… I mean, you can’t really teach it, you just have to show it and let them feel it. We try to look for opportunities each year to do things that would instill that in them as they get older.

With all the busyness and travel how do you stay grounded?

For us, it’s been really important to be involved in our church. The first half of our marriage we were touring so much we didn’t even feel like we had a home. But in the last 5 years, we’ve really gotten involved in our church. And really having those people who know you, that’s been a big thing for us. People who just love us for who we are and there’s no business attached to it.

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Besides community, our family really grounds us. I mean you can’t think too much of yourself when you’re changing poopy diapers every day (laughs). So thank you Lord for that. Built-in humility is very good.

What creative Goals do you have on the horizon that you haven’t achieved yet?

There are several different little projects I want to try, some different styles, or maybe some kids music. But looking back over the past 10 years, so many of the things I’ve worked towards or dreamed about have happened. And it’s beautiful to be able to say “okay lord, if this was it, if this was all you had, it was a really awesome journey.” But I know he’s not finished yet, and I’m excited to see what he has.

What can viewers look forward to with the Christmas Special?

It’s going to be really beautiful, really focusing on Andrea’s family and his faith, and how those things inform what he does. The comment I heard was that he gets asked about his music all the time, or his personal life, but not his faith. And he wanted to really dive into that. I was just so honored to be a part of that and get to sing a song with him.