MORE than a year after its release, Uttlesford singer-songwriter Leigh Haggerwood’s festive single My Favourite Time of Year looks more likely than ever to be a Christmas chart-topper.
The track, which the former Newport Free Grammar School student released 12 months ago, has just been snapped up by ITV as the theme tune for its upcoming Text Santa charity campaign.
After getting the broadcaster’s stamp of approval, 37-year-old Leigh has been invited to make dozens of live radio and TV appearances over the Advent period with his colleagues in The Florin Street Band.
Meanwhile, the official video for the song, which the Observer featured when it was launched last winter, has now playlisted by major music networks including VH1 and MTV.
My Favourite Time of Year was reissued as a single on Monday, and will be broadcast to an audience of millions when the first Text Santa appeal hits the airwaves this Sunday (Dec 11). Viewers will hear it a second time during the follow-up appeal and grand finale on Christmas Eve.
The show will see celebrities perform all kinds of entertaining songs and other routines, while viewers will be urged to donate to the campaign via text.
So far, the cast of ITV’s The Only Way Is Essex, Britain’s Got Talent champions Diversity and presenter Stephen Mulhern are among those to have supported the cause.
Proceeds will be split between nine UK charities: Carers UK, Crisis, Help the Hospices, Samaritans, WRVS, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Noah’s Ark Appeal, Helping Hand and Yorkhill Children’s Foundation.
And to help boost takings further, Leigh will be donating this year’s proceeds from UK sales of his single to the nine organisations – as well as the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire, where the video was filmed last year.
A professional songwriter by trade, the musician wrote My Favourite Time of Year in 2007 but could not get backing from major labels. Convinced his track had the magic formula, he took the bold step of releasing it independently.
The video was directed by industry legend John Perez, whose previous clients include Beyonce, Jay-Z, Christina Aguilera, Eminem, Muse, Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz.
Following its 2010 release, Leigh was approached by ITV in January for talks on using it in a future project. He was also asked by scores of schools and even the US Army’s band if they could perform it at concerts.
Clavering-born celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who is a childhood friend of Leigh’s, has been shouting about the song on social networking site Twitter.
There are now plans to go back to the studio and record a full album with The Florin Street Band, slated for a 2012 release, and an animation series soundtracked by the group could also be in the pipeline.
Leigh said: “I’m over the moon about how well it’s done, because it confirms that I was right to take such a huge risk with the song – and it’s really exciting to think that so many millions of people are going to hear it straight after The X Factor. It’s also great to be supporting these charities – basically, everyone’s a winner.
“The Florin Street Band was originally formed for just this one song, because no-one’s done something like this – a Christmas song that’s actually about Christmas – in the last 30 years.
“But since it came out I’ve been getting emails from people saying it’s made them really emotional and wanting to know what we’re doing next, so for me it’s a no-brainer to keep going!”
To find out more, see www.florinstreet.com.
Watch the video here: