Meet the Two Singers Who Helped Make Apple’s 2014 Holiday Ad So Special

Dana Williams and Rhiannon Giddens

Apple is back to take you behind the scenes of its sweet holiday ad about a musical recording that spans generations.

Singer-songwriter Dana Williams, who stars as the granddaughter in the commercial, recaps its premise—she finds a vinyl copy of the Gershwin standard "Love Is Here to Stay" that her grandmother cut for her grandfather in the early 1950s, before he went to war in Korea. Then, Williams overdubs new guitar parts and harmonies using Apple's GarageBand software, to make a nifty holiday present for her grandmother.

Musician Rhiannon Giddens, who is best known as the lead singer of folk band Carolina Chocolate Drops but is now promoting her upcoming T-Bone Burnett-produced solo debut, plays the part of the grandmother in her younger days. (The old photo in the ad is actually of Giddens.) The Voice-O-Graph booth she used to create the faux-vintage record is the one at Jack White's Third Man Records in Nashville—in the video, a parade of execs from the label discuss the device's significance as a novelty in the '40s and '50s. (Not to mention the present—Neil Young just recorded an album in it, and you can too, if you go down to Third Man's digs in Music City, as White reminded Jimmy Fallon's audience this year.)

Williams, meanwhile, also explains that she uses Garage Band to record almost all of her music (don't mind the fancy mixer, monitors and racks full of outboard processing gear in the background while she talks about how simple the software is) before the video proceeds to wax philosophical on old technology and new technology.

While that juxtaposition—and the point that the tools play second fiddle to the message regardless—are spelled out well enough here, that idea was pretty clearly illustrated in the spot itself. But name-checking everyone there would've probably ruined the vibe.

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.
Publish date: December 18, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT