2001 Christmas Album Roundup

They're piling up, these Christmas CDs! We'll do our best to cover them all and more, so keep on checking back to this page for additions.

Several full-length reviews from this year are also provided, including seasonal albums from Fred Hammond, Kirk Whalum and Rev. Norman Hutchins. You can read these too.

Christmas reviews from previous years are also still available. And there's also a special review page for those classic Christmas albums.

Melba Moore
A Very Special Christmas
Believe Music Works

 Song and theatre sensation Melba Moore delivers her first Christmas project, which comes slinging fourteen songs, many of them seasonaly familiar.

Branded with a light urban sizzle for the most part, cuts such as “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and “What Child Is This” come with the double dose of familiarity; the tune and the vocal stylings of Moore’s four-octave range.

Nestled into the carols are some hip renderings of mainstream favs like “Jingle Bells” and “This Christmas”.

Two highlights that can’t be missed are her duet woven with David Peaston on the original song “Forever”, a Godly love ballad, and also “No More Tears For Yesterday”, another original marked by tender lyricism that recalls the absolute cleansing power of Jesus’ blood.

Dunn Pearson Jr. produces and arranges the music on A Very Special Christmas.

Bishop Nathaniel Townsley, Jr. & The Gospel Jubilee
Follow The Star
Tortoise G4 Music / VSIX Music Group

 It’s startling to imagine song and dance veteran Ben Vereen combining with groove rhymer B.B. Jay on the same album. But that’s what you get on this diverse collection of Christmas music based on the stage musical pulled together by Bishop Nathaniel Townsley, Jr.

Vereen smooths out the island festive “Come-A-Christmas” while B.B. Jay joins up with “Big Prophet” to pop all over the album’s title track, with considerable vocal support from Jacinda Townsley and Cherub Ruth.

Some of the less prominent artists are equally potent. “Sweet Jesus” is the project’s highlight, with Sylvia Ruth and Andrea Vereen singing together amidst organic percussion. Dawn Driver leads on another sweetly arranged spiritual, “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow”. Originals and interpretations round out the collection.

The 12-track studio album is marked by the usual excellence of John Peters’ orchestrations and John H. Smith’s production.

Cory Johnson and the Band of Destiny
A Musical Christmas
Shabach Entertainment

 Fortified with jazz and funk, Florida's Cory Johnson and the Band of Destiny exult in live Christmas carols on their debut album on the Shabach Entertainment label. Multi-instrumentalist Johnson and crew are known for their stellar work in support of artists. Here, on their lonesome for the first time, they put a charge into cuts such as "We Three Kings" (sampling James Brown) and in "Oh, Holy Night" with its tight live skins solo from Johnson. On "Silent Night", with lead guitar from Clay Benjamin and Hammond B3 from Percy Jackson Jr., an intensely quiet urban storm develops over its 10-minute run. "Hark, How The Bells" gets all edgy with electric guitar, amidst sleigh bells.

Spontaneous jamming at album's end on two tracks is simply glorious. Bottom line, ignore this album to your peril.

David Gough
This Christmas
DoRohn Records

 DoRohn Records founder and flagship artist David Gough applies his falsetto-rich smooth vocal style to eight Christmas songs, classics and own originals alike. Selections range from the rhythms of “Drummer Boy” to title track and new song “This Christmas” to Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song”.

This is fireside stuff, and Gough knows how to deliver that vibe very well. Co-production from Valdez Brantley ensures a quality track soundscape.

Candi Staton
Christmas In My Heart

  The unmistakeable voice of Candi Staton carves into a set of ten songs that run the gamut from originals to loved carols. The story-track “On A Christmas Night” contrasts with the traditional boister of “Joy To The World”, while the quiet of “Come Let Us Adore Him” emphasizes the in-your-face, fast-paced harmonizing of “Wise Still Seek Him”.

Staton then slams a dance-track cut onto the end of the project. “Change In My Life” hearkens memories to her renowned dance-floor stylings.

Various Artists
Christmas in Havana Cuba
One Voice

Christmas in Havana It’s instrumentals only on one of the most unusual Christmas albums this year, and also one of the most refreshing. Authentic latin flava paves the way as renowned musicians from Cuba get down to basics with a sizzling collection of classics, Cuban folksongs and traditional gems. Rhythms percolate from start finish, with brassy fire sizzling all over.

Picks are “Silent Night”, “Come All Ye Faithful” and “En El Portal de Belen”.

Stacie Orrico
Christmas Wish
Forefront Records

Christmas...Our Gifts To You The young soul/pop singer puts her voice to an energetic Christmas EP from Forefront—six tracks. “Love Came Down” opens, and bears a remarkable similarity to Londa Larmond’s bouncy hit “Once”; both were arranged and produced by Michael-Anthony Taylor (Mookie). Orrico puts a nice spin on “O Holy Night” and “What Child Is This”, both with contemporary soft grooves behind them, and producers Tedd T. and Mark Heimmerman supporting respectively.

The original and inspirational “Christmas Wish”, the title track, has appeal as well.

AFC Praise Ensemble
Ho Ho Holy

 Chicago's AFC Praise Ensemble puts out a unique Christmas single, an original written by Apostle Joseph L. Stanford Sr. and Joseph Stanford Jr. Down tempo in pace, choir vocals are up front with Joseph Jr. and Mattie Stanford trading leads. As seen by the title, the lyrics deftly switch the secular focus of the season to the True meaning.

The song is packaged in three tracks, including an instrumental and a narrated version with kids inquiring about the origins of Christmas.

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Light of the World
M2O Communications

  Brooklyn Tab has long found their niche in an orchestrated, accessible and gentle Gospel sound. No surprises then that on their second live Christmas project in the past six years, Light of the World continues with the tried and true, delivering a seasonal collection of new songs and old favorites.

“Glory to God”, “Light of the World” and the two medlies (Christmas medley and Worship medley) go down well. Babbie Mason also sings on this project, and on “Peace On Earth” a Carribean flava is introduced (albeit with mixed results).

— reviewed by Stan North—

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