Record Label: Critical Mass Ministries
David Wang: Throughout the last 7 albums that we have released, I have always dreamed of recording a Christmas album. In fact, the original demo for 'Joy to the World/God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen' was recorded after our second album, so this album has been brewing in the back of my mind for a while. As a huge lover of Christmas music (I have around 500 CDs and vinyl in this genre!), I am always on the lookout for cool arrangements and different takes on holiday favorites. This is why the styles and arrangements on this album are so eclectic. The variety of styles has also meant that I had to stretch myself vocally, so this has been the most challenging from a vocal perspective, particularly the jazzier numbers and, of course, 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,' where I had to hold that last note in a live setting for 20 seconds!
David: I always make my own playlists because I love variety, so my favorite albums often are compilations, like the 'Very Special Christmas' album and a long-forgotten but brilliant Christian compilation album entitled 'Sparrow Christmas' from 1988. Albums like Bing Crosby's 'Merry Christmas,' Michael Bublé's Christmas albums, and the Amy Grant Christmas albums are among my favorites as well. I also adore George Winston's 'December,' an instrumental album that inspired the song 'Snow' on our album, which was written, arranged, and performed by my wife, April. In terms of individual songs, my favorite has been Kevin Max's 'In the Bleak Mid-Winter,' which we've paid tribute to on our album with a modern updated arrangement.
David: I conducted some research before creating this album. When examining the top 10 Christmas albums of all time, the average included about three original songs per album, although Celine Dion's album skewed this number with seven originals! We decided on four originals to offer listeners a sense of familiarity with a touch of new material. Two of the originals were inspired by my newfound hobby of swing and blues dancing. 'Christmas Swinging' draws lyrical inspiration from Stevie Wonder's 'Sir Duke' as a tribute to jazz greats, while 'Christmas is Real' aims to provide comfort to those experiencing hardship during the holiday season, influenced by the pain and heartache explored in our previous album, 'Serenity.' Additionally, I've always been intrigued and bewildered by Hallmark Christmas movies, so I couldn't resist crafting a song about that holiday phenomenon!
David: We are indeed doing just that, albeit with a completely different show experience. We tested our show concept in 2023, using music from the 'Serenity' album. Especially post-pandemic, we've noticed that many venues still struggle to afford a full band experience. To tackle this issue, we've employed state-of-the-art multimedia software along with my experience as a videographer (I was even nominated for Video of the Year by the Canadian Gospel Music Association). Our show combines song, video, and even dance into a lively and interactive event, performed by my wife and me. With just the two of us and the ability to run the show from a single laptop, Critical Mass can now offer performances that meet the financial needs of even small organizations and church groups.
David: We have an eventful year lined up for 2024. We're collaborating with various partners to take our multi-media show for 'Serenity' on tour. Additionally, we're developing a distinct Christian rock experience and a more secular show to offer a diverse range of performances for our audiences. What's particularly thrilling is our exploration into creating our first musical! The script has been penned, and most of the songs come from the album 'Serenity.' I'm delighted to mention that 'Christmas Swinging' plays a prominent role in our musical! This venture into the world of musical theatre marks our initial steps into this exciting journey, and we're incredibly enthusiastic about it.
David: I truly hope our audience enjoys the variety of styles on this album. As I mentioned earlier, I adore creating playlists, and I feel this album has that eclectic vibe. Above all, we aspire that our blend of secular and sacred tunes will serve as a reminder of the true essence behind our holiday celebrations. In collaboration with Chalice (www.chalice.ca), we've crafted a video to spread Christmas cheer worldwide. You can watch it here: [Link]. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and may 2024 be filled with blessings for all!
The link is https://youtu.be/L0xvBkrGj0I?si=ZSCXx3OEUZX3p52b
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