Christmas will seem a bit warmer than usual when the Cox family singers take the stage at The Commons.
In fact, for a moment, they will turn seasonal hoopla into a seasonal hula, bless their Hawaiian-rooted souls.
The longtime local singing clan known as Lei’gacy, whose vocalist-mother Lily hailed from Hawaii, always include a hip-swaying touch of the islands in their annual Christmas concerts dating back to 1990.
So, one might say attendees can lei down their stress.
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“Even the youngest, at 3 years old, will be doing the hula with the older girls,” said Linda Cox Roberts, the second-oldest member of the family.
Eleven main vocalists, not counting 20 children leading audience sing-alongs, expect to present more than 25 tunes in the two-hour concert, Roberts said. The set list will include Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” Vanessa Williams’ “Do You See What I See,” Peggy Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and Dean Martin’s version of “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” — among other holiday classics.
And the group with a repertoire of about 4,000 songs also will sing other classics such as the 1985 pop hit “We Are the World.” Know that this will hardly be the Coxes’ casual, singing-along-to-the-radio version.
This is a group known for vocal harmonies richer than holiday fudge.
“(Oldest family member) Jerry (Cox) made us audition for the different parts of the song,” said Roberts, whose solo segment will be Journey lead singer Steve Perry’s part of the tune.
Matriarch Lily Makuaole Poliahu Cox taught her children to sing and blend when they were only youngsters. Before her death May 3, 1995, while she lay in bed at Columbus Regional Hospital, she heard lovely vocal music down the hall one day.
“Those are my kids coming to see me,” the patient told a nurse.
“No,” the nurse responded. “I think it is somebody’s radio.”
In every local media interview the seven-member clan has done through the years, they have paid homage to their parents. Though their father Marlin Cox didn’t sing, he played ukelele and harmonica.
Daughter Kim Hyden summarizes her mother’s impact simply and directly.
“She is the sole reason we are the singing group we are today,” Hyden said. “She gave us the gift of our voices, our passion for music and many other talents. She taught us how to harmonize and how to blend as one, presenting the sound that many have commented on.
“Mom is the reason Lei’gacy began. It is our way of keeping her alive in our hearts and through our voices.”
Clearly, they will think of her when they sing the 1949 standard “Mele Kalikimaka” — Hawaiian for Merry Christmas. And Roberts already figures emotion will rise during “Sleep Little Lamb,” a song she and her siblings sang at their mother’s funeral.
“It’s pretty tough to get through,” Roberts said.
Oldest family member Jerry Cox, the group’s leader, often has spoken through the years of the importance of family and togetherness. He and his siblings live the idea, getting together every Sunday at Roberts’ house to sing and rehearse for area gigs such as the upcoming holiday performance.
“The reason we have been doing this concert for so many years?” asked Jerry Cox. “It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who have followed us on our journey, and giving thanks for the gifts and talents we were blessed with.”
For those who never have heard Lei’gacy, one YouTube video featuring Carey Cox offering a super-smooth rendition of “Let There Be Peace On Earth” will provide a small taste of their work. Roberts acknowledged that her family is as human as any, and sometimes peace sometimes get disrupted between siblings.
But, she said that eventually things get smoothed out like the rough spots in a rehearsed song. And members of the tight-knit clan remember one thing, artistically and personally.
“We need each other,” Roberts said.
What: 27th Annual Cox Family Christmas Concert.
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.
Information: Facebook page for Cox Family Christmas.