Learn about two great new Christmas albums, and hear from Johnny Mathis about fulfilling a lifelong dream: singing with Nat King Cole!

By Michael P Coleman

It’s relatively rare that I’m rendered speechless. As a writer, I don’t eat if I don’t come up with at least a word or two when called upon to do so.

So here goes:

Soul singer Teddy Swims is white. He’s as white as the Christmas about which Bing Crosby first famously warbled way back in 1941.

Give Swims a listen and you’ll understand why that’s such a shock to me!

The YouTube sensation’s name might not mean anything to you yet, but if you’re a fan of excellent, earthy music, or superb Christmas covers, it should. I discovered the 29-year-old phenom’s new EP, A Very Teddy Christmas, yesterday morning during a walk between northern California rainstorms, just a few days before Christmas.

Having just written about the takeover of soulful Christmas music by white folks this holiday season, I was thrilled to stumble upon Swims on Apple Music. I eagerly hopped out of bed early this morning, ready to admit that I was wrong and that a brother had recorded something that I liked as much, if not more, than the masterful new Darren Criss holiday album, A Very Darren Crissmas.

I will not get to write that, as Swims is as melanin-deprived as Criss is.

On the new six song project, Swims amazingly wraps his gritty voice around Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” He brings more than a little swagger to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “O Christmas Tree,” the latter of which I used to think I could do without. He also masters “The Christmas Song,” with a plaintive reading that rivals Nat “King” Cole’s.

If you want to revisit Cole’s seminal version of that chestnut, look no further than the new, cumbersomely-entitled compilation A Sentimental Christmas With Nat King Cole And Friends: Cole Classics Reimagined.

Read freelance writer MPC’s full review, and hear from directly from the legendary Johnny Mathis about singing with the equally legendary Nat King Cole!

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Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento based freelance writer who has his eye on the Pulitzer Prize.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or  follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter

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