March 30, 2015 12:55 UTC

Entertainment

'Tis The Season for New Christmas Albums

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Rod Stewart performing last month at the lighting ceremony of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City
Rod Stewart performing last month at the lighting ceremony of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City

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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
 
I’m June Simms with Christopher Cruise. Tuesday is Christmas. New Year’s Day comes a week later. As a result, you hear holiday music right now in almost every public place in America. It is being played in stores, restaurants and on the radio. And, today we are playing holiday music on AMERICAN MOSAIC.
 
Every year, many performers record new Christmas music albums and singles. June and I are going to talk about, and listen to, some of the recent releases.
That is Rod Stewart and Michael Buble performing “Winter Wonderland.”  The song can be found on Rod Stewart’s album “Merry Christmas, Baby.” It is the first holiday album he has recorded in his 50-year career.
 
Michael Buble is not the only guest artist on “Merry Christmas, Baby.” Rod Stewart sings “We Three Kings” with Mary J. Blige.
 
Cee Lo Green is also on “Merry Christmas, Baby.” But the R&B singer also just released his own holiday album.  “Cee Lo’s Magic Moment” includes traditional religious songs like “Silent Night,” children’s’ hits like “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and even lively dance songs like this one, “What Christmas Means to Me.”
 
Lady Antebellum has a lot to celebrate this holiday season. Twenty-twelve was a great year for the American country pop band. The group received its seventh Grammy Award and its second Grammy for best country album of the year with “Own the Night.”
 
This year, Lady Antebellum also released its first seasonal album. “On This Winter’s Nights” includes several songs the group recorded earlier in its career. But their recording of the well-loved Donny Hathaway song “This Christmas” is all new.
                        
Also new for 2012 was a first Christmas album from country singer Blake Shelton. The 36 year old star was born and raised in Oklahoma. He talks about Christmas there on a video you can see on his website. He says an Oklahoma Christmas is the only one he knows and it is all about family.
 
“It’s fun. I came from a really big family --- huge family, when it comes to and aunts and uncles and cousins and nephews. I’m not even sure how some people are kin [related] to me. I just see ‘em every holiday.”
 
Here, he sings “Oklahoma Christmas” with another country music star: Reba McEntire.
 
Now, Blake Shelton shares a song with family. He and his wife, singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert, perform “Jingle Bell Rock.”
      
There are sweet and sad notes on the first holiday album from Tracey Thorn. She sings Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas,” with such simplicity that the words about the pain of loss seem truer than ever.
Tracey Thorn also wrote two of the songs on “Tinsel and Lights.” In “Joy” she describes life’s conflicting forces: good and bad, light and dark. She sings: you loved it as a kid / and now you need it more than you ever did / It’s because of the dark / we see the beauty in the spark / that’s why / that’s why / the carols make you cry.
 
There are also some new albums that do not need words to express the spirit of the holiday season. Saxophonist Jeff Sparks’ “Jazzy Christmas” is all instrumental. Here he provides a fresh feel to the traditional Christmas carol “O Holy Night”.
 
Maxi Priest performing last week in Hollywood, FloridaMaxi Priest performing last week in Hollywood, Florida
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Maxi Priest performing last week in Hollywood, Florida
Maxi Priest performing last week in Hollywood, Florida
If you like a reggae sound to celebrate the holidays, Maxi Priest has it with his new album, “Time of the Year.” The 51 year old British musician said he had a lot of fun making the record, the first holiday album of his career.
 
We leave you with Maxi Priest performing “I As A King.”
and more on American Mosaic in VOA Special English.
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