DARE Records reissues its holiday offering DARE Records Presents ‘A Countdown To Christmas’ featuring Keke Wyatt, Juan & Lisa Winans, Shontelle Norman-Beatty, and Travis Malloy. Recorded live at the Hard Rock Café in Atlanta, Georgia, DARE Records Chairman and CEO Michael-Anthony Taylor produced the five-song EP. The project is available now on streaming and downloading platforms everywhere.
‘A Countdown To Christmas’ is a collection of one-of-a-kind, inspirational performances celebrating the holiday season. A soul-stirring celebration of artistry and enduring faith, this recording is a much-needed musical balm for those weary after the two-year ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic across the U.S. and abroad. Despite these travails, DARE Records and its roster of talent acknowledge the reason for the season with this five-song collection.
The holiday EP features the husband-and-wife recording artists Juan & Lisa Winans who bring vocal fire to their clever holiday love song, “Piece of My Soul,” which celebrates Yuletide romance over Christmas gifts. Bolstered by soaring Memphis-style horns and a driving rhythm, this soulful finger-snapper boasts a catchy chorus: “I want to give you a piece of my soul/I want to find me with you under the mistletoe/Don’t need no presents under the tree/All I want is to make you fall in love with me.” Blending old school flavor with new school feeling, Juan and Lisa – who are songwriters and performers separately — stir up nostalgia for a sweet season.
The holiday season doesn’t seem complete without hearing this classic tune, “The Christmas Song,” performed by Shontelle Norman-Beatty, and most famously recorded by the late Nat “King” Cole. A former background singer and gospel group member with The New Edwin Hawkins Singers and currently a background vocalist with Jazz legend Dee Dee Bridgewater, Norman-Beatty brings her considerable skills as a soloist to bear, serving up “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” with her affecting mix of vocal sugar and spice at a jazzy swing tempo. She adds a dollop of scatting and a sprinkle of “Jingle Bells” to the close, making her version of this favorite a true Christmas confection to snuggle up to.
“This Christmas,” was performed by singer, songwriter, and producer Travis Malloy, who showcases his charm as well as his artistry on a unique arrangement of the beloved Donnie Hathaway classic. With a holiday greeting to his listeners, Malloy launches into a serenely paced version of the tune, backed by a band and heavenly choir harmonies. Malloy displays his ability to glide into a beautiful falsetto from his midrange tone throughout and wraps the tune with an extended improvisation that puts one in mind of a fireside by the Christmas tree.
Keke Wyatt delivers a stunning performance of the holiday hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful,” offering personal, heartfelt testimony of the hills and valleys she’s come through thanks to God’s mercy. Wyatt skillfully raises and lowers the vocal temperature and the tempo of this well-known carol, making us hear it in new ways as we give thanks for the birth of Jesus.
Wyatt also performs the classic “Silent Night” with a plaintive piano figure, this tune is immediately lifted by Keke Wyatt’s fluid vocals as the song expands with full band accompaniment and choral backing. A veteran performer who has recorded both R&B and Gospel material during her musical career, Wyatt shows both fervor and control on this gentle, foot-tapping version of the beloved Christmas carol.