In the field of soul music still commonly referred to as Rhythm and Blues by some stands some of the best recorded Christmas rendition of music, by some legendary artist. You might not hear them on the white stations, unless it’s an oldie station, but they should be heard by many.
And, if a gifted writer just write a good Christmas tune they would be set for life from the royalties they generate each year because of the spirit and because of the season that have people showing more love than they usually do. The best selling soul group, in the history of Motown, the mighty Temptations ,has contributed some great yuletide songs for listeners to hear. Their second version of Silent Night off their Give Love At Christmas disc shows on the harmony that they have become known for produced by the great Gil Askey, is more soulful in tone than the one originally done in 1969, by Barrett Strong. With Dennis Edwards, Glenn Leonard, and the late great Melvin Franklin, spinning an original arrangement to the public domain tune.
But long before this tune became a staple on the R&B chart, their rendition of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, produced by the late great producer Norman Whitfield, is still a original production where the voices of the members are used in a fantastic way behind Eddie Kendrick lead vocals. I have always felt that each artist should make a often recorded song theirs and in this case, their version is different than many. Even to the point that the California Raisins, used their arrangement in their claymation commercial.
Another soulful score is Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas(Without The One You Love) by the Mighty O’jays. This Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, make waves on many fronts in my opinion by being a original Christmas song with a magnificent arrangement by the founders of Philadelphia International Records.
A great classic from the fifties by the blue berry hill master of New Orlean Fats Domino, has got to be his version of Frosty the Snowman, simply because it’s an original concept by how the vocal enhance the musical arrangement and Mister Domino distinct voice sell the tune alway through.
Rufus Thomas, must have been extremely proud of Carla Thomas, following in his foot steps as a singer and recording Gee Whiz It’s Christmas, has made her a constant player around the holiday season. And the late artist of soul Luther Vandross, contributed an original tune to the spirit of the season called At Christmas Time, it’s ashame more artist hadn’t try to add it to their musical catalog because it’s a standard just like the Gamble and Huff song mention earlier in the article.
He might be blind but that didn’t stop Clarence Carter from proclaiming in a blues tone that he’ll be a Back Door Santa, a song that have you laughing while you’re trying to remember the lyrics to the humorous tune. And we all know the crooner Bing Crosby hold claim on White Christmas, but that didn’t stop the original Drifters ,of the early fifties , coming up with and original arrangement of the tune where Bill Pickney and Clyde McPhatters, leave you joining along.
Even the original Supremest, left their mark on a original tune called Twinkle, Twinkle Little Me is a classic that stands to be heard not just listen too, but heard because of how the ladies just blended in, but you can tell the differences of them and the young genius of Motown, but a legend now, who I simply call Stevie Wonder, contributed an original tune from staff writers Ron Miller and Bryan Wells, into the Christmas market of songs.
But these gentlemen was on a roll with Christmas songs for Stevie, to which as writers, they can lay claim to One Little Christmas tree, which in a way will remind you of the Charlie Brown, Christmas special about a lonely Christmas tree. And not to be out done by his daughter Rufus Thomas, legend of St ax Records, wrote a little ditty called I’ll Be your Santa, that can have you jumping because of the musicians was on their game from beginning to end.
The Supremes, might have been at the fore front, but others came later to add to the history of the female groups, and one particular group was the Emotions, with What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas, a song about that person who doesn’t have a special someone to share the season with. If any form of music that tries to put a new spin on a classic and make the song great it has to be rhythm and blues, or simply soul depending on the age of the people talking.