Being a working musician I used to dread being asked to perform X mas material. Growing up Jewish, I wasn't familiar with the repertoire and always felt like an imposter when I had to perform seasonal songs.
I simply didn't have the feeling in my heart.
Although I enjoyed singing in the Anglican church at the end of our street at christmas time it just didn't feel like my tradition. Growing up in our very musical household we certainly played Nat King Cole's recording of The Christmas Song and Mahalia Jackson's sacred music as well as Elvis Presley's Blue Christmas during the season, but it was many years before I would come to feel my own attachment to christmas songs and understand why people love them so much.
Not surprising that it has been contemporary Jazz artists like Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall and Michael Buble who inspired me to have another listen to these songs in a new way. Also classic holiday recordings like those by Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennet with Count Basie and of course Ella Fitzgerald's Swinging Christmas which are all such strong records they would stand out in any season!
Funnily enough though, it was Bette Midler's Cool Yule that convinced me that there might be something there for me to look at in terms of performing some of this material. And so tentatively I have begun exploring what songs might work on my voice with the idea of eventually releasing a recording of seasonal material sometime down the road!
It's about whether you get that feeling in your heart, right folks?!