Do You Hear What I Hear?

Southern Artists’ Favorite Christmas Songs

‘Tis the season of music! Christmas songs and carols are everywhere and what a great time to listen to old and new favorites, organs, bells and even the Little Drummer Boy. Southern Gospel Artists are surrounded by music every day of the year and they know what they want to hear during this most wonderful time of the year: songs about the Baby in the manger born on that Silent Night. We asked several of your favorite artists about their favorite Christmas music. Here is a stocking full of their answers!

“O Holy Night” probably tops the list of what most music-lovers want to hear at Christmas. David Sutton, tenor singer for Triumphant, cites the song as his pick for the most powerful Christmas song, as does Barry Shadrix of the Shadrix Trio. Soloist Josh Franks says, “I do love the Christmas classic ‘O Holy Night’. But I guess [my favorite] in today’s modern time would be, ‘Mary Did You Know?’ What powerful words!” Josh continues, “As far as my favorite Christmas project, Elvis Christmas, Whitney Houston – One Wish, and of course, no one can do duets like Kenny & Dolly!”

 

An artist who shares Josh’s taste in Christmas music is Kelly Bowling, who says, “My favorite Christmas CD’s are Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas, Kenny and Dolly’s A Christmas to Remember, and The Isaacs’ I Feel the Christmas Spirit. I also love Bing Crosby!  My favorite Christmas songs are O Come All Ye Faithful, and The First Noel.”

“I’m listening to a Bing Crosby song in my car right now,” says Sheri Lafontaine. “I love traditional Christmas music. Irving Berlin knew how to write ‘em!”

“I really love the hymns at Christmas, and my favorite of these is Silent Night,” says Debra Talley. “It is such a sweet, precious song. Of course I love Christmas so I start playing all my Christmas CDs early!” Joe Young of the Providentials Quartet also likes this tune by Joseph Mohr, as does Sharron Kay King. Other favorite hymns include “O Come Emmanuel”, chosen by Nicole Watts Jenkins who also likes “Winter Wonderland”.

No one can pick just one song. Donna Strong of Hearts of Faith says, “My favorites are Silent Night, a truly powerful song, and White Christmas. I have several Christmas CD’s that I play while decorating the Christmas tree and during our family gatherings.  But one of my all-time favorites is an instrumental CD entitled ‘The Gift’, by Jim Brickman. What an awesome pianist. It is just a beautiful CD that really puts you into the true meaning of Christmas.”

Terry Farrow of For Him, says, “I think one of the best is Christmas At Calvary/ Christmas With Squire Parsons. It was a collection of Christmas classics plus a collection of songs that Squire has written for the Christmas season spanning 30 years.”

“Mary Did You Know?” has become a modern Christmas hymn loved by many. “You just gotta love Christmas,” says Rod Propes. “My favorite Christmas song is Mary Did You Know and Have A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives.  I have a new CD entitled ‘A Light’ coming out, but my favorite Christmas CD is Peter Cetera’s.”

New Day said they listen to Mary Did You Know and also love the Martin’s Go Tell. Casey Brandon of The Greesons, shares, “I would have to say my favorite Christmas CD is from The Martins.  Their ‘Light of The World’ CD has some great songs.  But the one that stands out in my mind is ‘Heaven’s Child’.  It explains exactly what Christmas is all about.  It’s not all about the gifts we give or receive, o

r being with our families, though those things are important to us. It’s all about Jesus being born of a virgin, coming to this earth to live and die for someone like me.  I believe we need to get back to the roots of the Christmas season.  Believe it or not, the name Christ is in Christmas.  And, I don’t remember there being an “X” in the word either!”

There is such an eclectic mix of music at this time of year, and these artists reflect a wide range of interest and taste. Woody Wright chose “The Spirit of Christmas” as a seasonal favorite. Bryan Hutson of the Kingsmen, says “My favorite Christmas CD is by Elvis Presley. I like his version of ‘Silent Night’, but there’s nothing like ‘Blue Christmas’!”

Lauren Talley says she loves traditional carols but enjoys singing the Christmas songs that the Talley Trio recorded ten years ago, including “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child”. Her favorite on the CD is not an actual Christmas song however. Lauren shares, “I recorded The Prayer as a duet with David Phelps and it’s appropriate all year long, but at Christmas time it is extra special.”

Soloist John Starnes says, “I still love the first Manheim Steamroller CD.  I bought one of the first Sony 300 disc changers years ago and filled most of it with Christmas CDs. Now we listen to Pandora or my extensive Christmas collection on iTunes.”

Dustin Bradshaw of State of Grace, remarks “I think right now my favorite Christmas song is ‘Christmas Shoes’; it’s such a sweet story. My favorite album to listen to is Gold City’s Christmas recording.”

There are quite a few good Southern Gospel Christmas recordings available, and the artists were thrilled to make their suggestions for what should be in the fan’s stocking this year.

“Priority just finished a brand new Christmas CD to be released on Thanksgiving,” says lead singer David Staton. “The songs are all classic, traditional Christmas songs. One of my personal favorites on there is ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’. I am the only one of five kids in my family to move far away from home, so when I hear this song, it always reminds me of home.”

“Capstone Quartet recorded its first Christmas CD this year,” says Bob Sellers, manager and lead singer for the group. “We were fortunate enough to record what has become one of my favorite Christmas songs, ‘Ordinary Days’, which was introduced a few years ago by The Oak Ridge Boys.  I had just been out doing some last-minute Christmas shopping last December in Tuscaloosa and had just passed by a homeless man when I heard the song on radio for the very first time.  Each verse talks about the ordinary things that most of us are fortunate enough to enjoy, like Thanksgiving dinner with a family, or a warm fireplace with the one we love. These are things many less-fortunate people would consider extraordinary privileges, and we take them for granted.”

Bob continues, “The song really made me feel small and to be honest, foolish, to be out fighting crowds and traffic spending money I didn’t have on gifts for people that didn’t need them just because it’s the thing to do.  I pray that as I grow older, I will each and every year find a way to make mine and my family’s Christmas less commercial and obligatory and more about giving from the heart and celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior.”

Soloist Chris Hester shares, “My favorite Christmas song happens to be one that was sent to me by Daywind staff song writer Ben Storie, called ‘You, Me and Jesus’.  I got the chance to sign an exclusive deal with His Choice Music Group, cut and release the song with them. It is already out and available on iTunes. The song touched my heart when it was pitched to me. It talks about how Joseph and Mary made the stable a home and had all they needed because Jesus was there. The second verse relates to so many single parents who are raising their children and who may not be able to afford expensive trees or gifts, but as long as Jesus is in the home, they have everything they need. It’s a really cool song!”

“The Mystery Men perform Christmas Concerts throughout the Christmas season beginning the first of December,” shares Jym Howe. “We call it ‘The Mystery of Christmas Celebration’.  We have a new song we are releasing to radio for Christmas from our new project, entitled ‘Down In Bethlehem’.”

Mercy’s Well is a popular group who have recorded many hymns flavored with their own special sound. Greg Gainer laughs about his listening preference for Christmas. “Of course I am biased when it comes to favorite Christmas CD: its ours! The CD is called, ‘December’, and we went back and pulled some old Christmas Hymns along with a few others to make this a memorable Christmas CD. But I do love Harry Connick Jr.’s Christmas Album as well. My favorite Christmas song would be ‘O Holy Night’.”

Soloist Elaine Peacock talks about her Christmas CD entitled, “Every Day is Christmas”. She notes, “All of the songs but Silent Night were written, co-written or published by Nashville Hall of Fame Songwriter, Dennis Morgan who has written many hit country songs.” Elaine shares these songs during a full December schedule of concerts.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this stocking full of songs and CDs as chosen by your favorite artists. Merry Christmas from SGM Radio.

Reprinted from December 2009