Centricity Blog

Merry Christmas!

Posted May 20, 2010 by in A&R, Songwriting

It’s been a crazy couple of months for me as I’ve been overseeing the Bethlehem Skyline Christmas project. It’s one thing to work on an artists record but another altogether when it’s a compilation of 9 different artists. And how do you make Christmas record that hasn’t been made before anyway? I mean, … aside from the classic Nat King Cole or the  Carpenters  do we really need to look any future for Christmas music? Well, … we here at Centricity thought the answer was ‘YES’, and having just finished mastering I’m happy to say the project turned out great.

The song selection was a process in and of itself as we had to maneuver through a sea of classics songs making sure no two artist wanted to cut the same one. Just as we’d land on a song idea and production style, … another artist would submit a similar one not a day later, … only to learn that the search needed to continue. (It was quite a task.)  Aside from the classics that were cut, … most of the artists wrote an original song which is another monumental task in and of itself. (For anyone who’s attempted to write a Christmas song you know what you’re up against?)

Aside from overseeing the project I had the chance of producing a couple tracks on Matt Papa and Sixteen Cities. Coming from a background of writing and production, my passion has always been strongest in the creative side so be able to pursue my vision for these songs from a production standpoint was a highlight for me. While I’m a big fan of their original tunes we recorded, I’m really excited and proud of their versions of ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Little Drummer Boy’. (That having been said, I think most people will find at least one of their favorites on this project.)

As the different songs were turned in from my A&R comrades, Chris and John, I was reminded of how fortunate we are to be working with all these artists. There is not one song on this project that I wouldn’t fight for and as difficult as it was to compile the list, (accommodating each artists desire to cut a song they were excited about), it all came together somehow. The thought and creativity that each artist put into the songs they wrote and performances they gave makes it easy to be proud of this project.

It was an interesting project to work on as I was constantly reminded through the lyrics of each song of the origination of the Christian faith. How often do you go through March and April and have to think about how the Savior of the world and Savior of our hearts was born in a small, dirty manger or where the reason for why we believe what we believe comes from? While at times it got old talking about these Christmas themes, it was somewhat refreshing being reminded of these simple things.

So, … the sequencing of 14 songs is finished and the record has now been mastered and turned in. It’s now mid May and I can finally tell my brain to shut off anything having to do with Christmas trees, chiming bells or a bright shiny star leading three wise men to Bethlehem.

Aside from the Chipmunks version of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’, … what’s your favorite Christmas tune? Perhaps it’s on this record?


About The Author: Guy Zabka

Guy Zabka provides the eye candy at the Centricity offices. Also, Guy is the label's A&R director, helping their artists hone their songwriting and craft them into successful recordings. He's a songwriter himself, with songs recorded by Natalie Grant, Brian Littrell, Joy Williams, and Kenny Rogers. Guy also composed the score for the Academy Award nominated short film, Most. He devotes his spare time to his wife and their three genetically-blessed children, and to fine-tuning his Amazing Race tryout video.

  1. Bev Herrema said

    ONE of my favorite Christmas tunes is actually “How Many Kings” (Downhere) from the earlier Bethlehem Skyline! …. Classics? For as long as I can remember, it’s been “What Child Is This”. … And a new favorite that I “met” last year is Faith Hill’s “A Baby Changes Everything”. Kinda puts me in the mood to write a Christmas tune…something I’ve actually never done! There’s a first time for everything though, right?

  2. Mindy said

    I am excited for the BethSky album to come out!

    My favorite Christmas songs are “Silent Night” and “What Child is This?”. They have great sentimental value to me. Both were my grandmother’s favorite songs as well.

    I think a couple other classic hymns that are my favorite are “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” You don’t hear them much and I am hoping someone did them for the next album. That would make my heart swell :)

  3. Cory said

    Always liked Shawn Colvin’s recording of “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Absolutely beautiful. That whole record is among my favorite albums of all time and it’s always a welcome respite from the music that plays in the malls!

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