It’s Viva Las Vegas for Robin Meade.
The star of HLN’s “Morning Express With Robin Meade” is heading west for a couple of weeks in December to showcase her singing chops.
The Atlanta-based Meade is joining Human Nature, the Australian vocal quartet that currently performs “Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature: The Motown Show” at the Venetian Las Vegas, for 11 shows between Dec. 12 and Dec. 24.
“I’m so happy to be doing this,” Meade said. “When I look at what (Human Nature) have accomplished … there is a lot of emotional connotation to playing there. People wait their entire lives to play Vegas.”
Meade, who has released two country-leaning albums, is also a guest on the group’s “Human Nature: The Christmas Album,” which was initially released last year in Australia and unveiled in October in the U.S. She joins Andrew and Michael Tierney, Toby Allen and Phil Burton on the U.S. version for a duet on “Sleigh Ride,” which she recorded with “Mama” Jan Smith as her vocal producer.
During the three-hour session, Meade, Smith and Human Nature’s manager, Steve Sterling, were in Smith’s Atlanta studio while Grammy-winning producer Harvey Mason Jr. recorded the session from Los Angeles and Human Nature’s Andrew Tierney dialed in via Skype from Las Vegas.
“Mama Jan was a wonderful hostess to this crazy little party that ensued,” said Sterling. “I was humbled to be in her space.”
While Australian singer Jessica Mauboy handled “Sleigh Ride” duties on the Australian version of the Christmas album, Sterling said he and the group wanted an American singer for the U.S. release and were immediately smitten with Meade’s “America’s Sweetheart” vibe.
“We all said we wanted to find someone who is musically credible, and when I learned about Robin and saw that she had two albums that were (on Billboard’s) Heatseekers (chart), we realized it was a really good match,” Sterling said.
Human Nature, an ensemble for more than 20 years, has maintained a Las Vegas residency endorsed by Motown legend Robinson since 2009 — first at Imperial Palace and, since January 2013, at the 742-seat Sands Showroom at the tony Venetian.
For these special Christmas shows, the group will perform 14 Christmas classics as well as a selection of Motown hits, all backed by an 11-piece band, including a four-piece orchestra.
In addition to singing “Sleigh Ride,” Meade — the first guest to ever join Human Nature onstage aside from Robinson — plans to perform four songs with the group and fully intends to learn their choreography despite her hectic TV schedule.
“When I realized I was going to be on a stage in Vegas, I kinda freaked out. They move around a lot!” Meade said with a laugh.
To prepare, she is working with North Carolina-based trainer Jen Hendershott, a Fitness Olympia champ who is whipping Meade into even better shape during four-times-weekly Skype sessions.
Meade also has contacted designer Tony Bowls — the keynote address speaker from this year’s Vision market during Atlanta Apparel at AmericasMart — to assist with wardrobe.
“I’m thinking spangly because it’s Vegas,” she said.
Meade will take a break from her morning TV show for the performances — “I’m taking off work so I can work,” she joked — but said it was worth using her stored-up vacation time.
“It’s a great opportunity that doesn’t come every day,” she said, “and I’m still grateful to work for news bosses who understand that other side of me.”
Before heading to Las Vegas, Meade will perform at the Nov. 26 tree lighting ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton by Lake Oconee and return to Eddie’s Attic for her patented “Round Robin” show with heralded Nashville songwriters Rivers Rutherford and Kelley Lovelace.
While Meade has shared musical space with Kenny Chesney, Darius Rucker, Richard Marx and other artists, the Vegas gig is her first consistent show featuring her name on the marquee.
“I said to the folks (in Vegas), I’ve been in TV for 20 years, but I’ve been a singer for longer than that,” Meade said. “So it’s always fun to hear people say, ‘I didn’t know you did that!’”
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To hear Robin Meade singing “Sleigh Ride” with Human Nature, visit The Music Scene blog at AJC.com.