Category Archives: Christmas

White Christmas by Soul Tempo

Many of us love the classic Christmas song “White Christmas” and will definitely have it in rotation during the Holiday season. “White Christmas” has been recorded by music legends like Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick and Otis Redding. Christian music makers Soul Tempo also recorded the classic song, with 4 versions available on iTunes. I especially like the jazzy versions! –Mark Weber

 

Mark Schultz goes viral with Different Kind of Christmas

Mark Schultz’s new Christmas single – “Different Kind of Christmas” – has reached viral status on Facebook. The live music video has received nearly 4.5 million views, 142,000 shares, 18,000 likes and numerous comments from fans and listeners, all within less than a week. “Different Kind of Christmas” also shot up to the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Christian & Gospel Songs chart. The song was originally inspired by the life of Schultz’s father-in-law and his recent passing.

“We tried to write the lyrics that would reflect the honesty of the emotions we were feeling – that Christmas was still hard, even though we have faith that Kate’s dad is with Jesus,” said Schultz in a message to his fans. “We had no idea how many lives this song would touch, but it only makes sense because there are very few people that haven’t experienced a loss that makes life a lot different. There are few times in the year when that difference is felt more powerfully than around the holidays.”

Remember Peter Furler from the Newsboys?

Whatever happened to Peter Furler from the Newsboys? He’s still singing…and has a new Christmas record from Prescott Records with Naxos and New Day Distribution. Peter Furler Christmas (Feat. David Ian) is now on iTunes.

Furler and multi-talented jazz instrumentalist and arranger, David Ian, who produced the album, assembled a unique listening experience with the new recording, showcasing vintage sounds of the holiday season from ancient past to present. The unexpected duo set out to create a vintage, classic and meditative album that harkened back to the jazz sounds of Vince Guaraldi and the minimalist era of Miles Davis.

Using singers and musicians from around the world, including from America, Armenia, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa, Furler and Ian also incorporated traditional orchestration as well as exotic instruments like the Duduk (an indigenous Armenian wind instrument) to create an unconventional and introspective Christmas album.

“David and I wanted to create an album that shares the story of Christmas, one that we hope you will enjoy for years to come,” says Furler. “We had in mind for this music to be played while listeners engage in their favorite Christmas traditions, enjoying a warm fire, a quiet dinner party, watching the snow gently fall outside.”

In a time where music listeners are looking for authenticity, Peter Furler Christmas offers not only authentic music and arrangements, but Furler and Ian deliver what could very well become a classic Christmas album.

“With a slight departure from my previous two Christmas releases, I wanted to set this collection apart and create a sound that brings the sacred to light,” adds Ian. “We deliberately wanted to bring new life to Christmas songs that are often overlooked.”

With three of the newly arranged traditional carols, “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “What Child Is This” at radio now, Furler also delivers two spoken word tracks accompanied by Ian’s contemplative piano, string and chamber arrangements. These spoken word tracks include the prophesies of the birth of Christ, as well as the Luke account of the Christmas story. They offer a beautiful reminder of the meaning of Christmas and the narrative for all the tracks on the album.

Ashley Cleveland’s favorite Christmas music

From Ashley Cleveland…

I confess, this is not my favorite question—primarily because I have trouble finding Christmas recordings that I really love. And when I do find something wonderful, I eventually lose it or it drops into discontinued obscurity. I had a combined symphony/chorale recording on a cassette—a bootleg someone had passed on to me that was absolutely magnificent. It wasn’t just the song selection or the musical and vocal arrangements; it was the overall soulfulness of the entire album. I never once listened to it without losing myself–the mark of a truly classic album. So, of course, I lost it. I never knew which symphony it was and I have purchased at least 50 discs trying to find it again. No luck.

Another favorite of mine is an album of original compositions telling the Christmas Story called Precious Child. It was conceived and produced by two wonderful Nashville songwriters: Thom Schuyler and Craig Bickhardt. It was recorded on Warner Brothers in 1993 and featured some of Nashville’s best vocalists: Vince Gill, Maura O’Connell, Dave Loggins and Janis Ian to name a few. I sang on it too as: ‘The Lord’s Messenger’—an undeserved title but one that I promote tirelessly anyway. It is out of print now but can still be found on iTunes, and at Amazon. ReverbNation has a nice marketing layout of it for more information. I keep it on repeat play between Thanksgiving and January–it is the good stuff and Craig Bickhardt’s guitar playing is just ridiculous.

Finally, over the years I have increasingly tended more to Advent than Christmas itself. That, for me is the place of genuine spiritual renewal and preparation for the coming year. To that end I have found a fantastic disc: Advent at Ephesus by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. It can be found on Amazon as well.

An update of a Christmas classic from Family Force 5

Alternative pop-rock band Family Force 5 releases their Christmas single, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on November 18. True to form, Family Force 5 adds their signature electronic/dance/pop vibe to this interpretation of the holiday classic, complemented by their trademark over-the-top artwork.

Like many bands, the creation of the song all came down to the right inspiration. Unlike many bands, their inspiration revolved around some cheap green velvet from the basement. Derek Mount (a.k.a., “Chap Stique”) explains: “We were sitting around the studio struggling to find the right sound until Riley (Friesen, producer) grabbed a cheap, velvet Christmas tree costume that was lying in his basement and gave it to Hollywood. As soon as he put on that ridiculous green suit, the rest of us started cracking up and then blared early 2000’s hip-hop through his headphones so he could play along for inspiration.  After a few minutes, Hollywood came up with a ghetto, bouncy beat and the track pretty much wrote itself. Once we had the pocket, the remaining parts felt very natural, and very Family Force 5.”

The single drops just two days after the band wraps their 28-city “We Believe Fall Tour” with the Newsboys and 7eventh Time Down, closing out a dynamic year for the band. In October, they landed their first Hot AC/CHR No. 1 radio hit, “Let It Be Love” from their critically acclaimed album, Time Stands Still, that shot to the top of multiple album charts when it debuted Aug. 5 from Word Entertainment. Additionally, “BZRK (feat. KB),” the first music video from Time Stands Still, became the No. 1 most-viewed music video at MTV.com.

The band recently finished shooting its next highly anticipated video, “Sweep the Leg” and can be seen on Winter Jam 2015, which kicks off its 47-city run January 2. Family Force 5 will be joining label-mates Skillet, Francesca Battistelli, for KING & COUNTRY, Blanca, About A Mile and VERIDIA.

Amy Grant honored at The Hollywood Museum

Amy Grant will be honored at Lights, Cameras…Stars! Holidays Hollywood Style, which is a holiday exhibition at The Hollywood Museum honoring iconic celebrities who have made Christmas a significant part of their careers.

The exhibit opens on Thursday, November 13, with a special ceremony and cocktail party. Amy Grant’s ‘Christmas Career’ will be one of the highlights. She has recorded four Christmas albums, hosted two christmas television specials and toured with the Nashville Symphony on several holiday tours.

Other stars to be showcased at this year’s holiday extravaganza include Karen Carpenter, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Vera Ellen and Mel Torme, all of whom have become synonymous with Christmas.

‘Tyrone Power: Man, Myth and Mayhem’ will also be premiering that evening celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tyrone Power. Bob Pranga, better known as ‘Dr. Christmas…Tree Stylist to the Stars’ is decorating for both the museum and this event said, “because all of these stars have been at the very heart of our Christmas experience, this provides a great opportunity for families to come and experience the magic of Christmas with a little Hollywood glitter, because everyone loves the holidays, and everyone loves Hollywood, it’s a perfect combination.”

The Hollywood Museum, the official museum of Hollywood, has the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world. The museum, featuring four floors of breathtaking exhibits, is home to more than 10,000 authentic show biz treasures– one of a kind costumes, props, photographs, scripts, stars’ car collections and personal artifacts, posters, and vintage memorabilia from favorite films and TV shows. The museum also showcases the history of Hollywood and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Smalltown Poets Christmas Time Again

Smalltown Poets will release Christmas Time Again on Nov. 25. Supported by a successful Pledge Music campaign, the new album has 14 tracks.

You have to love a band that has managed to stay together despite the fact that the five members of the band live in 3 different states and 5 different cities. For the past few records, the band has recorded largely in individual local studios, or a few of the band members would gather to record the albums in segments. But for Christmas Time Again all five bandmates met in Atlanta, recording together in the studio for the first time in 16 years.

While the distance causes the band to not tour as much as they would like, there will be two special Christmas concerts, on December 3 in Ft Worth, TX and December 4 in Duluth, GA.

When Christmas Comes from Kim Walker-Smith

Ringing in the holiday season with classics like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” to sacred carols like “The First Noel” and “Away In A Manger,” Kim Walker-Smith’s When Christmas Comes blends all the whimsy and nostalgia of her childhood along with her heart for worship.

I know that at the core of who I am, I am a worship leader,” says Kim.  “That part of me comes out naturally in these songs celebrating the whole reason for Christmas—Jesus, that He came to change our lives and set us free. The message of the gospel is the whole theme of Christmas and why we celebrate and what makes it so wonderful.”

This Christmas will be especially significant for Kim as she and her husband, fellow worship leader Skyler Smith, are getting ready to welcome their second child into the world. Kim’s due date, ironically, is Christmas Day. “It’s so funny. Being a parent just changes Christmas for you,” Kim says. “It makes it even more exciting.”

Recording When Christmas Comes in-studio with 2014 Dove Award-winning producer Jeremy Edwardson (Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe, Jesus Culture), songs like “Let It Snow,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and “White Christmas” featured on the album show another side of this versatile vocalist best-known for powerhouse worship anthems with Jesus Culture Band. Aside from collaborating with Skyler on the couple’s folk/Americana flavored album, Home, released amidst acclaim last year, Kim has recorded all of her albums to date live.

“The reason I always record live is because we’re trying to capture a moment in worship, but with this…it’s a little bit different,” the multi-Dove Award nominee explains. “We’re making something fun and creative, but an album that still carries my heart in worship. I wanted a mixture of both—songs that could show my heart of worship and songs that are just fun and a part of Christmas, a part of magical childhood memories.”

Christmas Miracle by Joshua Mills

joshuamills

Most Christmas albums are recorded within a span of weeks in one studio. But when you’re Joshua Mills, a 15-year veteran worship leader and recording artist, it’s difficult to find the time to be in one studio or city for very long.

His new album, Christmas Miracle, came about in Los Angeles, Orlando, Tampa, Vancouver, London, Ontario and Nashville. Christmas Miracle has a diverse-yet-familiar vibe to it. In particular, I like hearing “Christmas Vacation,” an update of the theme song from the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation film.

The album’s first single, “It Snowed,” was done using the same mic Frank Sinatra used at Capitol Records in L.A. If you like the beautiful tone of Michael Buble’s voice, you need to hear fellow Canadian Joshua Mills. Hear samples of his engaging Christmas Miracle album at his website. –Mark Weber

 

Michael W. Smith Christmas album features all-star lineup

On Sept. 30, get ready for Michael W. Smith & Friends: The Spirit of Christmas, featuring an all-star lineup of guests – Vince Gill, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Nettles, Bono and Michael McDonald.

An acclaimed singer, songwriter and musician who has sold more than 15 million albums, Michael W. Smith & Friends: The Spirit of Christmas is Smith’s fourth Christmas project, following the successful releases of Michael W. Smith Christmas (1989), Christmastime (1998) and It’s A Wonderful Christmas (2007).

“This is the most unique and unusual record I’ve ever done in my 31-year career. The entire record was sequenced together before we recorded one song,” recalls Smith. “Sonically you’re hearing me in a way that you’ve probably never heard me before. At one point it’s like Smitty meets Bublé. There’s my granddaughter’s voice singing the song from ‘Home Alone,’ plus the whole orchestral and symphonic feeling of Christmas, mixed together with all these amazing voices and guests – yet it all fits together in a remarkable way.”

Ashley Cleveland singing Christian music in Alaska

"Night of Sacred Blues" MusiCares be...

Christian music maker Ashley Cleveland heads to Nome, Alaska this January for a women’s conference that’s part of “Missions Alaska,” which includes an outreach program to the native community. It’s Cleveland’s first ever visit to Alaska, and takes place right before her 57th birthday. Other concert spots in 2014 include California, Texas, Ontario and British Columbia.

Owl City with TobyMac have Christmas song hit

Owl City (Adam Young) performing at the Bowery...
Owl City (Adam Young) performing at the Bowery Ballroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Owl City, which is really just one guy– Adam Young– has paired up with TobyMac on the Christmas song, “Light of Christmas.” The song, from the new VeggieTales DVD, Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas, is the only new Christmas song this season on Christian radio, and it’s a hit!

 

 

Silver Bells, a brand new version

 

Well here’s something totally unexpected for Christmastime… it’s Jeff Sparks with Canton Jones, Ann Nesby and Shonlock. The song is “Silver Bells,” but not the one you’re thinking of– this one’s more of a 2013 take on a Christmas classic, with a hip-hop edge and the divalicious voice of Ms. Nesby. Don’t forget the nice sax in the upbeat song. Cool! Props to video director Darryl D. Lassiter. –Mark Weber

 

 

Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Natalie Grant headline Christmas Story Tour

christmasFollowing multiple sell-out performances in front of nearly 120,000 people during the 2011 and 2012 holiday seasons, THE STORY TOUR, presented by World Vision, will return for the third consecutive year to arenas nationwide this Christmas, giving fans in 14 cities a chance to experience the Bible through a live multi-media experience like no other. This year’s all-star line-up once again brings together top names in Christian music, including Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Natalie Grant, Matthew West, Nichole Nordeman, Selah and Rawsrvnt, along with special guest author/speaker Randy Frazee and musical director Bernie Herms. The exceptional cast will also be joined by a full orchestra and children’s choir as they perform holiday favorites and selections from (Music Inspired By) THE STORY, each song telling a first-person account of a specific biblical character.

Casting Crowns’ lead singer Mark Hall, who was a part of the 2012 tour, will be joined onstage this year by other members of the award-winning band for this one-of-a kind concert experience. “When a family comes to THE STORY concert and they see, person by person, how God has moved through history, they begin to see how the Bible fits together,” says Hall. “God is working all things together for good. That is the message: that Jesus is the way to God and that He is writing our story.”

“It is so exciting to be a part of an event that helps bring the Bible to life,” adds Grant. “Watching the audience grasp these biblical truths in new ways is especially rewarding. And I believe these are some of the greatest songs ever written, so it is an honor to sing them every night.”

Throughout the evening, the artists will perform the Dove Award-winning Special Event Album of the Year (Music Inspired By) THE STORY in its entirety, taking the audience on an extraordinary journey from Genesis to Revelation. In addition, artists will perform some favorite Christmas classics, making this a memorable, must-see event for the 2013 holiday season. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.TheStoryCD.com/tour.

Released in late 2011, (Music Inspired By) THE STORY is an unparalleled project from some of the best-known artists in Christian music. Based on a collaboration with authors Randy Frazee (The Heart of the Story) and Max Lucado (God’s Story, Your Story) as well as Zondervan’s Bible The Story, the songs on THE STORY album take timeless biblical truths and provide a completely new context into how God’s narrative of love and redemption intersects with our own history of brokenness and failures resulting in a new, epic story of hope and rescue. The 2-CD set features 18 original songs written by multiple Dove Award winners Nichole Nordeman and Bernie Herms. The project is produced by Herms and Brown Bannister and features a stellar line-up of artists across all major labels, who combined have sold over 75 million albums. 

This year, THE STORY TOUR is once again partnering with Christian humanitarian organization World Vision ( www.worldvision.org). World Vision provides assistance to approximately 100 million people in nearly 100 countries by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. 

A K-Love Christmas featuring Big Daddy Weave

daddyweaveDo you hear what I hear? The K-LOVE Christmas Tour starts on December 4 in Greensboro, NC.  Big Daddy Weave, for KING & COUNTRY, and Meredith Andrews will hit 10 K-LOVE markets for the holidays.

 

K-LOVE Christmas Tour Dates:

Dec. 4         Greensboro, NC – Christian City Church         
Dec. 5             Virginia Beach, VA – New Life Providence Church

Dec. 6             Pittsburgh, PA – Amplify Church, Pittsburgh East Campus

Dec. 7             Indianapolis, IN – Zionsville Performing Arts Center

Dec. 8             Chicago, IL – Aurora Christian High School

Dec. 11          Lexington, KY – Porter Memorial Baptist Church

Dec. 12          Nashville, TN – Brentwood United Methodist Church

Dec. 13          Memphis, TN – Raleigh Assembly of God

Dec. 14          Kansas City, MO – Cross Points Church

 

Dec. 15          Evansville, IN – First Christian Church Newburgh