Holiday Shopping: Contortionist Bends Genres, Releases Christmas Album

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Lanny Headrick

This holiday season we're bringing you some gifts produced by San Francisco artists. Today start's the list.

Dian Meechai spends most of her weekends dancing on the stage at the downtown nightclub Ruby Skye. A typical night involves three or four costume changes, and a lot of time dancing in long boots with tall heels. When she isn't doing that, Meechai fills her days training with her contortion coach, teaching dance lessons, or performing at private events for the likes of Pixar, Facebook and Yahoo.

But behind this pedigree of circus arts and sexy entertainment, lies a classically trained singer with a heart for the holidays. Meechai recently released an album of Christmas music, titled Stormy Weather.

It isn't circus music -- the songs are a mixture of jazz standards and holiday gospel that would fit in better at an office Christmas party than they would under a big top. A departure in style perhaps for a professional dancer and contortionist, but the choice wasn't entirely random.

"I'm one of those people who can't wait to start playing Christmas music," Meechai said. "So it was only natural that my first album would be a Christmas album."

Although Meechai was new to the studio, she had worked as a singer before. As a child, she once performed for the mayor in Yonkers, N.Y., and in 2012, she was a touring cast member on the Silver Spirit cruise ship, where she was hired as both a singer and dancer.

Stormy Weather came about after a healthy dose of encouragement from her mother.

"My mom really wanted me to record an album," Meechai said. "And it's just one of those things where they're getting older and life is short."

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Photo: Jiamin Bai Design: Meechai

The album is divided into two parts, each meant to convey a different side of the holiday spirit. The first half, Christmas Cocktails, is fun and festive. It features familiar and sentimental jazz tunes like "Cheek to Cheek," "Christmas Time is Here" and the album's title track "Stormy Weather." The second half is more intimate. It's titled Sunday Service, and is a mixture of traditional holiday carols like "Silent Night," and a few opera songs that call to mind an old-time white Christmas.

The many weekend revelers at Ruby Skye probably wouldn't imagine such a large voice and sentimental spirit coming from one of the rail-thin go-go dancers on the stage. But if any of them are holiday fans who encounter Stormy Weather, they'll be pleasantly surprised.

"The holidays are my favorite time of year," Meechai said. "I hope to bring some of my mushy spirit into your home."

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Photo: Jiamin Bai Design: Meechai

Stormy Weather is available at dianmeechai.com and on iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon. CDs and downloads are $8.99-$13.99.

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