Tel: 905–690–4709 dk@tfwm.com - Darryl Kirkland, Publisher

In the Muse: WHAT IS IN YOUR IPOD FOR CHRISTMAS?

It’s that time of year, so we are going to take a slight departure from our normal format to take a look at some new independent Christmas CDs that you should be gleaning from for your Christmas program.

The first project hails from Harvest OC, the brand new Orange County expression of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California with Pastor, Evangelist and Author Greg Laurie. This new release entitled Magnify: A Christmas Album features the music of Raymond Gregory who oversees the worship at Harvest OC. The arrangements are sophisticated with pop vocal styling and expensive sounding chords. Song titles include “My Soul Magnifies the Lord”, “O Holy Night Medley”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, “Evelyn (A Christmas Story)” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”. Most accessible Christmas carol is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”.

Second project hails from a group of worship leaders in South Orange County entitled A Christmas Together. If you are looking for modern interpretations of Christmas favorites, this is the project to choose from. Worship leaders include producer Adam Watts of Jeremy Camp fame, Travis Ryan from Saddleback San Clemente Campus, Jadon Lavik from Pacific Coast Church, Tim Timmons from Mariner’s Church, Raymond Gregory from Harvest OC, Drew Bray from The Shoreline Church, Roy Shenkenberger from Mariner’s Church and local favorites The Natures and Pawn Shop Kings. My favorite cut is “Angels We Have Heard On High”. Its unique approach is a definite addition to the setlist. Another favorite is the acoustic guitar rendition of “O Holy Night”. Typically a keyboard song, this hip and vibey approach makes this song accessible and cool.

The third project is from Crystal Lewis, a new project called Home For The Holidays. Simply produced with piano and voice with sprinkles of strings, Crystal has captured that classic sound that accompanies Christmas trees, yuletide fires and a frothy mug of hot chocolate. A less well known Christmas Carol from the 30’s is Jacob Niles’ classic “I Wonder As I Wander”. It is such a great addition to any Christmas program.

The final project hails from the Southern California indie band Future of Forestry. Future of Forestry was previously signed as Something Like Silas and led worship at the Flood, the college group for College Avenue Baptist Church near San Diego State. Their latest Christmas EP is entitled Advent Christmas, Vol. 2. It’s probably one of the most creative approaches to Christmas music I’ve heard. Christmas program must haves include “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “The Earth Stood Still”. If you want to see how they pull these songs off live check out their videos on YouTube. Very inspiring.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a project from recent Christmas history, Welcome Inn by Phil Keaggy. Released in 2009, this project blends the signature sound of Phil Keaggy’s style with new and classic songs for Christmas. I would definitely consider the tracks “Best Christmas Morn” and “All Through The Night” as additions to the Christmas program.

You can purchase all the projects listed on iTunes or by visiting the individual artist websites:raymondgregory.com, achristmastogether.com, tommywalker.net, philkeaggy.com, crystallewis.com or futureofforestry.com

If you like to be featured as an independent worship artist, please contact Holland Davis at hollanddavis@gmail.com.