Updated: Jan 15, 2022
Calling all Christmas music fans... Tis the season to get our Christmas on!
I will admit it; I am a sucker for nostalgia, all things sparkly and the dreaminess of holiday music. And maybe you agree that we could all use some mental moments away from the intensity of the last couple of years.
For myself, music and creativity are my therapy and my fuel, so I welcome the cozy creative vibes of this season, and I applaud the artists that are sharing their festive holiday-inspired work.
So for this piece, I wanted to feature some amazing artists that have wowed and inspired me with their recent contributions to the holiday season. I hope their music and their stories bring a warm glow to your heart as they did for me!
Rehya Stevens - "Tis The Season" - Album
First on my artist list is Rehya Stephens and her brand new Christmas album release, "Tis The Season." Rehya is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter from Los Angeles CA, who has many many film, TV and Ad credits to her name.
I met Rehya in an online master class for sync licensing and I have followed her music journey wins of her songs being placed in film and TV with much admiration. We have continued to connect online through our mutual love of music, animals and retro houseware!
So recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to Rehya's virtual album release and what a blast this was!!
At her album release, she shared stories of how her songs came to be and the inspiration and incredible musicians behind the songs, which I found fascinating as I totally geek out on artist stories! I also made new friends and deeper connections through this event and I was left with so much inspiration.
But the best part is that Rehya's album "Tis The Season" is outstanding! It takes you on a holiday journey of all the feels! Rehya's beautiful soulful voice is the perfect warmth to deliver the range of songs on this album, including eight new original songs and three Christmas classics.
(From Rehya's website) "Stevens welcomes a stellar cast of collaborators on her all-new holiday collection. At the helm is Grammy-nominated producer and co-writer Tom Keane (Chaka Khan, Chicago, Barbara Streisand, Nathan East, Matt Keane). Long-time collaborator Jon Kubis (Quincy Jones, Dolly Parton, “Dancing with the Stars,” “Showtime at the Apollo”) produced a handful of songs, while Gardner Cole (Madonna, Amy Grant) and Michael Ripoll (Stevie Wonder, Tommy Simms, Josh Groban) provide cameo arrangements on two of the eleven tracks."
When I asked Rehya about the inspiration behind this album, here are her words:
"'Tis the Season" was written and produced from late 2019 through mid-2021, when the world was in the dreariest, most harrowing stretch we've seen in a long time. I think I was just trying to create a world we all might want to dwell in. A world where every soul receives a warm, hearty welcome and every journey is valued and celebrated. It was a challenging vision to hold on a daily basis across those two years. But, my artistic lens was hopeful and well-lit, making these songs intrinsically joyful. I feel like the world needs more light everywhere. A little light goes a long way in dark places." -Rehya Stevens
So this brings me to mention someone that I met at Rehya's release party, and I just had to feature "Aaron Henton" and his Christmas blog "Merry And Bright," as he wrote a perfect in-depth article about the album "Tis The Season," where he interviewed Rehya, and captured some of the stories that she shared with all of us. So this piece is perfect, and I encourage you to READ The full article here.
If you are a Christmas music fan, you have to check out Aarons's blog, as there is just so much to discover here!
Kristina Helene - "Somehow" - Single
The next artist on my Christmas list is Kristina Helene with her single "Somehow."
What can I say, but this song and the accompanying video are just absolutely stunning.
Kristina Helene is a well-known and beloved artist from my own hometown area on Vancouver Island, and she and her husband Thomas Kinsel are the creators behind this beautiful song.
The first time I heard Kristina's voice, I was mesmerized by her smooth swooping tones and beautiful style. She sings with precision, warmth and a classic sound that stands up with the greats. She is accompanied by her husband Thomas Kinzel on piano, who also wrote and arranged this song as well he shot and produced the video - these two are an incredible partnership!
(From website) "In recent years, Kristina has shared the stage with award winning producer David Foster and one of the most influential figures in "nuevo flamenco" music, Jesse Cook. She has also opened up for Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo and Naturally 7 with husband and musical partner, Thomas Kinzel. The duo have mesmerized audiences all over Vancouver Island with their live performances. They have now expanded to an online presence through COVID times, capturing the hearts of people all over the world.
Somehow' is the first co-written original song release from married duo Kristina Helene and Thomas Kinzel. Thomas wrote and arranged this song with his late father in mind. He brought the song to Kristina, and the two of them wrote the lyrics in honour of the people who they dearly miss, especially around the Christmas season."
These are Kristina's words about "Somehow" when I asked what is the inspiration behind the song:
"This year, Thomas and I are making a special dedication of our song 'Somehow' to our late friend and inspiration, Al Schmitt. Thomas was greatly influenced by Al when it came to recording this song. He was also a huge inspiration for me to keep singing. A few months before he passed, he wrote to me and said, "Keep singing, we need your voice." It meant more to me than he will ever know. This one is for you Al. The world misses you so much."
Derik Sebastian - "A Happy Hawaiian Christmas" - Single
The final artist on my list is Derik Sebastian with his single "A Happy Hawaiian Christmas."
Derik is another person I met through a master class, and he is such an inspiration. He is absolutely knocking it out of the park with recent full albums, including "A Ukulele Christmas" being placed in world-renowned music libraries for the purpose of sync licensing.
From Derik's Website:
"Through faith and hard work, Maui born local sensation Derick Sebastian continues to live his dream as an accomplished international ‘ukulele virtuoso. Derick’s critically-acclaimed instrumental album, "From His Heart", earned a Na Hoku Hanohano 2010 nomination. Derick has shared the stage with singer/songwriter pop star Jason Mraz, the melodic Raining Jane, powerhouse Trombone Shorty, country star icons Thompson Square and Sara Evans, fellow ukulele ace Jake Shimabukuro and R&B sensations, Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight, and a highlighted private performance and ukulele lesson with Oprah Winfrey.
Derick has notable performances at Staples Center-Los Angeles, Chase Field-Phoenix, TEDx Santa Cruz, PIXAR Animation Studios, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, and professional sports industry’s MLB, NBA, PGA, NCAA, ESPN and EA SPORTS. He has also toured full-fledged around the globe to Australia, Thailand, Philippines, Korea, China, Germany, Finland and Estonia.
As his dreams and vision continues to evolve, Derick has now forged a “new” path exploring uncharted waters of songwriting, composing and producing music for Film, TV, Advertisements and Content Media. His current ukulele releases have taken off and opened new opportunities, signing to several major label libraries including Warner Chappell PM, Sky Urbano, and lead to establishing his own company, Sounds of Sebastian Publishing. While garnering these many accomplishments, Derick is humbled and stays true to himself, and continues his dedication to inspire lives through his music."
This single, "A Happy Hawaiian Christmas," was written for a commercial brief, but he has also released it as a single on all platforms.
The song is so joyful and so full of Hawaiian warmth! Here is what Derik had to say about his song:
"My inspiration behind this song was simple…family and friends having “A Happy Hawaiian Christmas” while decorating the house and enjoying each other during the holiday season."
Thank you so much to the artists that shared their stories and music for this Christmas special blog!
Wishing all of you a safe, warm and peacful holiday!
About the author:
Ellen Crossley is singer-songwriter, vocal coach and content creator based out of Victoria BC.