As it turns out, CeeLo Green is an absolute sucker for Christmas.
“It’s truly a spirit and a notion, inclination, emotion that gets inside of you,” he said during a recent telephone interview from his home in Miami, “and it’s like a friendly ghost because it’s the same one every time.”
It’s the ghost of giving, of sharing, and family and food. It’s the ghost of laughter and surprise. And, when he was a child, it was also the ghost of music — one that revisited him in 2012 as his fourth studio album, “Cee Lo’s Magic Moment.”
“We love all of the standards, the classics, all of the iconic music that makes Christmas so eventful,” he said. “I’ve had an opportunity, with my old project, ‘Cee Lo’s Magic Moment,’ to do my own rendition of a handful of these classic records — to modernize, to evolve and push forward the idea and agenda, and emotional tie to a time of season and a time in our lives, in the hopes that it becomes the time of our lives.”
With that spirit, the five-time Grammy Award-winning musician is finally introducing his favorite holiday hits into his mainstream tour, making his upcoming concert on Sunday, December 22, at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead one for the history books.
“I do some covers and I even mix some music into the playlist that’s not necessarily Christmas songs, but it has a Christmas spirit,” he said. “So I don’t want to give too much away, but I think it will be interesting, if nothing else.”
Green first appeared on the music scene as a member of the southern hip-hop group Goodie Mob, later forming Gnarls Barkley with DJ-producer Danger Mouse. Their 2006 worldwide hit “Crazy” reached Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts — setting the stage for what was to come.
Four years later, Green would be a five-time Grammy-nominated musician for his single “Forget You” — also more colorfully known as “F–k You” — launching him, his voice and his soul in a way he never imagined.
“There’s a selflessness that comes over me when I’m performing, where I’m not concerned with being myself in those moments,” he said. “I’m concerned with being those songs. So I am that music. I feel like I’m responsible and that is a baton and a torch passed down from me. I take it very seriously; I take it very personally. That soul, it’s given me voice, it’s given me reason, it’s given me purpose.”
His holiday hits are a true fusion between tradition and reinvention, and the decision to include them in his tour “wasn’t rocket science,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s also my tradition to be untraditional,” he said. “To find new, different and innovative ways to express and experiment and entertain is pretty much my wheelhouse. It’s always a passion play for me.
“I’m always here to represent a balance, and in that way, I am tradition,” he continued. “When I’m performing, I don’t necessarily look traditional — I look like CeeLo Green — but I’m not CeeLo Green. I am an archetype of some other intention that I feel was placed and endowed into me and bestowed upon me for those reasons. It’s bigger than me, is all I’m basically trying to say.”
It is not lost on the entertainer that the holiday season can be a difficult time — and for that reason, he considers himself connected to what he calls “Melancholy Christmas.” He, too, will be missing family dear to him.
“I have relatives, like God bless my grandmother’s soul, she won’t be with us this year. She’s passed on,” he said. “So many relatives that have gone, and you know, you see some of the younger women assuming the position of matriarch and us rallying and galvanizing and getting the family together.
“It becomes nostalgic and a tribute in that way,” he added. “You have to be happy about life going on, you have to find laughter and find solace in the memory of those people who made Christmas great for you as a child, so we have to make it great for the young ones coming up and show them how it’s done and how to do it right, so they can continue using it as an opportunity, or at least an excuse, to bring family together.”
Keeping his own melancholy in mind, Green said he hopes to become an uplifting part of the holidays, while exploring a new side to himself and his music in the process.
“I’m excited to do something that I have not done, and I’m also excited that I haven’t done in front of an audience I haven’t met yet,” he said. “It doubles the excitement and doubles the anticipation. So I’m hoping Long Island has a lot of love for me and they’re up to their shoulders in the Christmas spirit.”
CeeLo Green will present his Holiday Hits Tour on Sunday, December 22, at 7:30 p.m. at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. Tickets range from $65 to $79. VIP admission is $154, which includes a meet-and-greet and photo op with Green, a CeeLo ornament and beanie, and more. For more information, call 631-727-4343 or visit suffolkthe