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A Gospel and Urban Christmas
NRT’s Dwayne Lacy showcases some joyful rhythmic tunes for the holidays

AN NRT EXCLUSIVE EDITORIAL, A Gospel and Urban Christmas
Posted: November 28, 2022 | By: DwayneLacy_NRT
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Christmas is upon us. Yes, Thanksgiving comes first, but time goes by quickly. Already, department stores and radio stations are playing festive songs and carols. Classics like, "Silent Night," "Sleigh Bells," and "Oh Holy Night," (and let's not forget pop singer Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You") will be mainstays until the new year. 
But, there's something nice and fresh about hearing original Christmas music (I include new renditions of old songs in this category as well). Gospel and Urban artists bring their flavor of rhythm and joy to listeners for the holidays. Here are a few festive songs that might put you in the Christmas spirit. 
"This is Christmas (feat. India Arie)" by Aaron Lindsey
Gospel artist Aaron Lindsay is a multi-talented producer, singer, musician, and family man. He's the pro behind the music label, MultiEthnic Records. His first release was Christmas Time Is Here Again. The album standout is the chilled-out "This is Christmas," featuring R&B singer India.Arie. This festive tune is about the vibe of the holiday season, celebrating with family and friends. Aaron and India weave their voices together seamlessly. So, relax and listen to lyrics like, "A holiday/A getaway with all the people we love/Just us/'Cuz, this is Christmas."

"Revelations 19:1 (feat. Naomi Raine)" by Maverick City Worship
People can sing certain songs throughout the year regardless of the season. Their reach, meaning, and appeal are fitting. "Revelations 19:1" is one of those songs.
When a songwriter writes music transcending generations, you must wonder what they feel. Congregations across the U.S. have sung this song, written by veteran gospel artist A. Jeffery LaValley, for over 30 years. It brings a sense of nostalgia for those who were in youth and mass choirs belting out this song of sheer praise. 
The Maverick City Worship Choir covered "Revelations 19:1" in 2021 and they didn't disappoint: "All Praises Be to the King of Kings/And the Lord Our God/He is wonderful/Hallelujah, salvation and glory/Honor and power/He is wonderful/Hallelujah/He is wonderful." You can't listen to this just once as Christian pop artist Naomi Raine does a great job ad-libbing as the praises go higher and higher. 

"Keep Your Head Up" by Pettidee
Christian rap artist Pettidee paved the way for many performers—even those who may not have even given him props. He released "Keep Your Head Up,'' a moving song dedicated to fathers who couldn't see their kids for various reasons during the holidays. Riding the beat of a cajon and keyboards, Pettidee raps as if he is a father who is incarcerated and who is estranged from the mother of his kids.
The latter raps, "I'm sorry I let the bad things come out my mouth/The only way to fix it, Daddy had to leave the house/And no it's not your fault that me and mommy's not together/Daddy was a storm cloud/I had to move to make it better/I can't see you until Mommy and I are friends again/I know it's soon, but Daddy can't exactly tell you when/I won't be there for Christmas, I'll send your presents though/I know it won't replace when me and you play in the snow" It's heavy. Still, it's a reality for several people during the Christmas season. Remember to pray for those who are hurting during the holidays.

"This World Will Never Be the Same" CeCe Winans
When I think of gospel icon CeCe Winans, I can do nothing but smile. She's such a sweet spirit with a voice that reaches people across racial and denominational lines. “This World Will Never Be the Same” has CeCe singing about the beauty of a savior whose birth and life changed the world for eternity. It’s an elegant offering, complete with a symphony of brass and string instruments.

This song is perfect for a family Christmas dinner; it's soft and serene music that sets a relaxing atmosphere. So, sit back and listen to CeCe sing, "This world will never be the same/According to the Eastern star/The newly born Messiah wades this way/This world will never be the same/The savior born has come at last."
"Great Christmas" Jekalyn Carr
Powerhouse vocalist Jekayln Carr is doing it all: releasing consistent, quality albums with constantly chart-topping singles. Gospel contemporaries like Maverick City, Ty Tribbett, and Blanca, among others, have featured Jekalyn on their albums. Hosting the Stellar Awards is another one of her significant accomplishments. Now, she has released her new single, “Great Christmas?”. It’s an ode to families getting together after being a part. I dig her approach and vocal delivery as she sings, “We’ve been apart from each other for a good while til now/To gather the family to share a laugh and smile.” The feel-good offering showcases Jekalyn’s vocal adaptability. 

"Not So Silent Night" by V. Rose
The ever-impressive V. Rose is an underrated artist who continually releases urban albums, EPs, and features while navigating through her faith walk (including struggles and triumphs). In her song, “Not So Silent Night,” V. Rose gives us something to dance to and gives God praise for. The Lord sending us a savior is something to celebrate and tell others about. The song's beat is up-tempo and infectious, a fitting backdrop to the chorus: “We’re not gonna be silent tonight/Turn the music up/God is come, all is right/Shout it from the roof/Jesus save the word/We’re not gonna be…shhhhhh” 

Dwayne Lacy is a long-time History teacher in Houston, Texas. He also has a passion for diversity in unity in music and in the church.

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