We at AGM are true lovers of the holiday gift-buying season and the wonderful Christian holiday of Christmas. And being fans of the holiday – we are therefore required to love all things Christmas music. We’re going to help you sift through all of this year’s holiday offerings, and hopefully you can find that one (or more if you so please) seasonal recording to make your holiday the best it possibly can be! These aren’t all Southern Gospel releases – but there may be a few here that you might find enjoyable as well!
The Nelons – A Winter’s Carol (Daywind Records)
For fans of: progressive Southern Gospel and country Gospel similar in vein to Karen Peck & New River, Sisters, or The Martins.
Great to have on while: taking a mid-day stroll through the snow.
The reigning Absolutely Gospel Music Award Mixed Group of the Year the Nelons’ A Winter’s Carol embracing the fun and imaginative. You can tell that thie popular group loves the holiday season, particularly on highlights like “Winter Wonderland” and new modern hits like “Where Are You Christmas” and Frozen‘s “Let It Go.”
Matt Maher – The Advent of Christmas (Reunion Records)
For fans of: worship leaders turned pop stars with strong theological leanings like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Shane & Shane.
Great to have on while: cooking the Christmas dinner!
While probably not on the radar of most Southern Gospel fans, Maher has been making a name for himself for years now, and crossed over in to the Gospel world with his updaed version of “Because He Lives” just a couple of years ago. This Christmas album features some of the best new music this season, particularly the more worship oriented cuts like “Glory (Let There Be Peace),” “He Shall Reign Forevermore” and “Hope For Everyone.”
Various Artists – Joy: The Ultimate Christmas Celebration (StowTown Records)
For fans of: traditional Southern Gospel through the years.
Great to have on while: driving around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights.
Joy: The Ultimate Christmas Celebration is a great mix of new and previously released material on StowTown Records that features a nice electic track listing. Fans of Southern Gospel will recognize cuts by George Younce, Collingsworth Family, and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, but the real draw to this collection is new songs like 4th + Main’s “Imagine This Christmas,” Blaine Johnson’s “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and Southern Raised’s engaging version of “Carol of the Bells.”
For fans of: Southern Gospel soloists who don’t have a problem mixing genres like Joseph Habedank, Jonathan Wilburn, and Gordon Mote.
Great to have on while: mingling at your annual Christmas get-together!
Southern Gospel favorite Ivan Parker is releasing his latest Christmas release on Difference Media – Christmas Dreaming. This release does feature more of a crooner style, and he really shines on tracks like “Christmas Time Is Here,” “Grown Up Christmas List,” and title cut “Christmas Dreaming.”
Hannah Kerr – Christmas Eve In Bethlehem (Black River Christian)
For fans of: adult contemporary and inspirational arrangements by CCM female vocalists like Laura Daigle or Laura Story.
Great to have on while: reading your advent devotions!
CCM newcomer Hannah Kerr is releasing her debut Christmas recording with Christmas Eve In Bethlehem. This is a more light, acoustic driven release that really highlights the breathy and jazz-laden vocals of Kerr. Album highlights include her covers of season favorites like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” and original cut “Christmas Eve In Bethlehem.”
Dailey & Vincent – The Sounds of Christmas (BMG Records)
For fans of: bluegrass-infused Country music from the likes of The Isaacs, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and HIGHROAD.
Great to have on while: relaxing with the family in front of a cozy fire!
Award-winning bluegrass due Dailey & Vincent are releasing their debut Christmas recording with The Sounds of Christmas. There’s a lot to like on this release, including their creative takes on memorable classics like “Mr. Grinch,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Road to Bethlehem” (which features Dolly Parton).
David Phelps – It Must Be Christmas (Gaither Music Group)
For fans of: big voices with even bigger arrangements like the Gaither Vocal Band, Andrea Bocelli, and previous Christmas releases from Phelps.
Great to have on while: baking cookies with the family!
No one does Christmas quite as big as David Phelps. This is Phelps’ fifth (5th!!!) Christmas release since 2000’s epic Joy, Joy. It Must Be Christmas finds Phelps forging similar territory as past release, a formula that’s worked well for the full-voiced tenor, moving between classical arrangements and pop stylings. Highlights include “In the Bleak Midwinters,” “Tennessee Christmas,” and new holiday classic “It Must Be Christmas.”
CeCe Winans – Something’s Happening! A Christmas Album (Pure Springs Gospel)
For fans of: Gospel tinged contemporary music for fans of Winans, Tasha Cobbs, and Tamela Mann.
Great to have on while: wrapping those last minute gifts!
CeCe Winans made a huge comeback after being gone from the industry for several years to plant a church with her husband in Nashville, Tennessee. Something’s Happening! is a soaring holiday album that features huge arrangements and stellar vocals from the industry’s finest artists. Be sure and check out ultimate tracks like the original “Something’s Happening,” “This World Will Never Be the Same,” and “Giving Season.”
Brian Free & Assurance – Christmas (Daywind Records)
For fans of: progressive Southern Gospel trios like Three Bridges or Jim Brady Trio or inspirational leaning CCM groups like 4HIM or NewSong.
Great to have on while: the kids are building the first snowman of the season.
Christmas is a stellar holiday release from one of the industry’s top trios. Ricky Free’s unique ear as a producer really helps set this release apart with it’s strong vocal arrangement and cutting-edge tracks. Being only 5 tracks might turn some people away, but there’s not a single song lacking. Check out tracks “Joy to the World” and “Gloria” in particular.
11th Hour – The Greatest Gift (Sonlite Records/Crossroads Music Group)
For fans of: country-tinged progressive mixed trios like The Nelons, Jim Brady Trio, and Sisters.
Great to have on while: opening presents on the big day!
11th Hour continues its treck up the Southern Gospel tiers, becoming one of the hottest new acts to hit the industry in years. The Greatest Gift features mostly traditional holiday offerings with 11th Hour’s unique take and impeccable harmonies. You’ll love their arrangements on holiday classics like “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “The Christmas Song,” and hymn “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”