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Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is ON!! It’s time to get out the holiday tunes and get the Christmas party started. I make no secret about my love of Christmas music and how I add to my collection annually. This year is no exception. Here are a few of the stand outs from this season’s purchases.

Neo-Soul 
Rashaan Patterson The Ultimate Gift – Because there are very few traditional Christmas songs on this album, you could almost get away with playing it all year long. Patterson’s wildly unique arrangements breath new life into “The Little Drummer Boy” and Paul McCartney’s classic “Wonderful Christmastime”. While there are 7 original songs on the album, I’m a sucker for the Christmas standards, so Patterson’s take on “The Little Drummer Boy” wins my vote for the standout track on this album.
R&B
Paris Bennett – I overlooked this iTunes genius holiday offering several times before finally opening my mind and giving it a listen. Although I think Paris has a beautiful voice, I expected the album to be an overdone pop confection completely worthy of an American Idol contestant. I was pleasantly surprised. The “12 Days of Christmas” is a song which is probably one of the few Christmas tunes that has not been done ad nauseum, and her jazz-infused version will stay high on my Christmas playlist for many years to come. Although I didn’t download the entire album because, while the songs were good, I didn’t find her renditions of most of the holiday standards particularly rousing.  “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “It’s Christmas Time”, however, will fit nicely into my ipod holiday shuffle

Country
Faith Hill Joy To The World– I only put this in the country category because Faith Hill is a country artist. However, there are no country music indicators to be found anywhere on this album. Released last year, this album, with its extravagant orchestration, calls to mind the albums of Christmas past. Traditional songs, with traditional arrangements sung beautifully.
Martina McBride O Holy Night– I love this song. It’s not about presents, or being with or without your significant other at Christmas, or snow or reindeer. It about Christmas. The birth of Jesus, plain and simple. Maybe the simplicity of the song’s message is the reason why I am always searching for the most bared down version of the song I can find and a few years ago, I hit pay dirt. I saw this performance on Regis and Kelly and I never forgot it. The album version isn’t acapella, but the music is subtle enough to allow Martina’s crystal clear soprano to shine through.
Gospel
Mandisa It’s Christmas – Despite the fact that I am a Christian and love gospel music under most other circumstances, I generally don’t like Christmas music done by gospel artists. Something about taking a classic Christmas carol making it an 8 minute overdone production and adding a 2:30 minute reprise that just doesn’t appeal to me. But then came Mandisa with nary a 10 minute number in sight. What you do have is a saucy, salsified “Feliz Navidad”, the Motown-esque “What Christmas Means to Me”, and a the Michael W. Smith duet “Christmas Day”. The highlight of the album however, is “Children Go Where I Send Thee”. With it’s jazzy horns and gospel choir, it will definitely get you in the spirit, Christmas or otherwise.


Originally posted on the blog formerly known as Ms. Wooden Shoes.*