Christmas CDs have been released by a variety of artists who have their unique take on both classic carols and contemporary favorites, along with their own original songs.
“NOËL: Carols of Christmas Past,” by Jenny Oaks Baker, Shadow Mountain Records, $16.98
A distinctly old European flair has been added to the traditional Christmas carols violinist Jenny Oaks Baker includes in “Noël.” The twist, including a Gaelic rendition of “Silent Night,” adds a unique flavor to the 10 songs she performs that keeps them from being merely lovely background music and demands attention from the listener.
The CD also features the talents of several vocalists, including Alex Sharpe, formerly of Celtic Women, and Kitka, a European-style women’s group, and a variety of other instrumentalists.
Baker will be performing in several concerts this month, including “A Kurt Bestor Christmas” at Abravanel Hall on Dec. 13, 14, and 15, and the free FM 100.3 Christmas Concert on Dec. 18 at the South Towne Center. Visit jennyoaksbaker.com for information.
Utah pianist Amy B. Hansen’s fingers seem to fly across the keys in the nine songs of her new Christmas CD.
While there is hardly a rest in the arrangements of these traditional melodies, they evoke the cheerfulness of the season without displacing the holiness of the Nativity.
Actress Jane Seymour and baritone Nathan Gunn were featured in the 2011 Christmas concert of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square. Their performances are in the recently released CD and DVD “Once Upon a Christmas.” The songs vary from traditional, festive carols to religious ones, and also include an organ solo from Richard Elliot of “Shepherd’s Dance.”
The story Seymour shares of Good King Wenceslas is included on both the CD and DVD.
This six-man a cappella group has yet again pulled together Christmas music that is delightful to listen to. The group has put its own creative twist on 14 tunes, mixing carols like “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night” with seasonal favorites of “Deck the Halls” and the humorous “Nuttin’ for Christmas.”
“WHITE CHRISTMAS,” Shadow Mountain Records, $9.98
This collaborative effort between FM 100.3 and Deseret Book has produced a Christmas CD with a dozen songs, each by a different artist or group, from the bluesy “White Christmas” from the Lower Lights and the a cappella group Eclips’ “I Saw Three Ships,” to “What Child is This” by Alex Boyé and “Christmas Lullaby” by Sandra Turley.
The proceeds from this album benefit the Road Home shelter.
Singer Robin Harper combines her talents with pianist Marvin Goldstein for 11 jazzy and cheerful Christmas songs that include both contemporary tunes, like “Santa Baby” and “Grown-Up Christmas List,” to traditional melodies of “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Sandy resident Kade Smith’s jazz influence gives a slower and more personal feel to five Christmas songs, including “Merry Christmas to Me” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” They encourage listeners slow down and enjoy this season.
National children’s recording artist Laurie Berkner’s first Christmas album is full of fun arrangements of seasonal favorites that include a trio of original songs, “Santa’s Coming to My House Tonight,” “Candy Cane Jane,” and “Christmas Lights.” Berkner’s upbeat and kid-friendly style is playful and can help children get excited for the season.
“AMALIAH’S VISIT,” by Marie Sharon, $16.99
Marie Sharon has written a 40-minute program and composed music that follows Amaliah, an angel, who shares the perspectives of the Nativity from Elisabeth, Mary, an innkeeper’s wife and a shepherd’s wife. She taps the musical talent from several musical artists for the different parts. For information, see www.amaliahsvisit.com.
"Silent Night" ("Oiche Chiuin") from "Noel"
"Silent Night" (or "Oiche Chiuin") is a Gaelic rendition of the traditional carol featuring Alex Sharpe, formerly of Celtic Women, and is on Jenny Oaks Baker's Christmas CD "Noel: Carols of Christmas Past."