By Kelly Harris
Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I grew up in the Midwest making snowmen and sledding with my brother on garbage cans lids. My family was broke, but Christmas always felt like Christmas. We had the snow to match songs like “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Living in a warmer climate has its advantages, but I must admit since moving here, the holiday mood hasn’t struck me as much. But here are two albums that remind me why I love this time of year.
Christmas with New Orleans Ladies of Jazz and Music Alive Ensemble featuring: Leah Chase, Stephanie Jordan and Germaine Bazzle
This is a must-have New Orleans holiday CD. Leah Chase. Stephanie Jordan. Germaine Bazzle –need I say more? But for those not familiar with these stellar voices, let me help you. Remember how The Cosby Show always had regal jazz artists appear on the show? Who could forget Nancy Wilson’s appearance? When I hear these women, it feels like I could have been watching them in one of those classic episodes.
All three join forces on ” I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In” and “My Favorite Things.” Each woman also has a solo song equally dazzling. If you’re hosting a gathering, be sure to have this on your playlist.
Ledisi Gets Christmas Right
In 2008 my husband and I went to Dillard University’s Christmas concert featuring New Orleans native, Ledisi. He had never heard Ledisi live, but I knew she would not disappoint. Her debut CD Soul Singer had long been in my music rotation. Ledisi sang beautifully that night and announced she’d released a Christmas CD.
I’m often skeptical of contemporary hip-hop/R&B artists recording Christmas albums. Holiday classics can often sound more like “I’ll be home to club”— not “I’ll be home for Christmas.” I’m a Christmas traditionalist, I admit. I prefer “Joy to the World” without a hip hop hook or rap.
If you’re like me, look no further— Ledisi’s It’s Christmas gets it right. It’s grown-folks Christmas. It’s jazzy and fresh. Each song allows her powerhouse voice to shine. From beginning to end, Ledisi proves her voice can easily handle spirituals, jazz, R&B and blues. New Orleanians will especially appreciate her rendition of What a Wonderful World. My other favorites on the album include: “This Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”
What’s your favorite holiday album?