‘Merry, Merry Christmas Baby’ is his first holiday song in 2 decades, features Jim Horn on sax
Country Music Hall of Fame member, six-time Grammy Award winner and CMA Entertainer of the Year Ronnie Milsap is getting into the holiday spirit. Known for his genre-blending soul-country, the man who’s won four CMA Album of the Year and three Male Vocalist of the Year Awards offers a yearning take on the soul classic “Merry, Merry Christmas Baby.”
“I have always loved Christmas,” Milsap said of his choice. “Even though it’s a sad time for many, there’s a real soul to the way the holidays make even those feelings feel. I’ve always loved Dodie Stevens’ version of this, which recasts ‘Happy, Happy Birthday Baby’ for the holidays. So, it felt like a way to remember the ones remembering over the holidays.”
Opening with a few descending notes, the keyboards fall in, then Milsap’s smoky voice rises. Slightly nostalgic, “Merry, Merry Christmas Baby” comes wrapped in ribbons of Jim Horn’s sax, and old school background vocals. Produced by Rob Galbraith and Milsap, this version provides a strong mix of Rat Pack elegance, Patsy Cline’s sultry anguish and the Ray Charles vintage country/soul band presence that saw Milsap become a crossover powerhouse and cross-genre critical favorite in the 1980s.
“A lot of today’s country singers make records with an R&B influence, but they have nothing on Ronnie Milsap,” offered USA Today. American Songwriter has raved about “his gift for interpretation, while the Nashville Scene praised “the soul of a country-pop master” and The Tennessean writes, “Milsap has long thrived by ignoring genre distinctions.”
Teaming with Black River Entertainment in time for the holiday season, the legendary blind keyboard player who’s done session work for Elvis, done duets with Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and TV appearances with Little Big Town and Luke Bryan, as well as played the Howard Theater and the Whiskey A-Go-Go on his way to winning back-to-back Best Country Vocal Performance, Male Grammys for “Lost In The ‘50s Tonight,” mines his rich musical history to put his stamp on this broken-hearted Christmas classic.
“At a time when the world needs love, and it’s harder to get than ever, this seemed like the perfect song,” Milsap said. “I’m blessed to have my wife, Joycie, but I know so many people missing their loved ones. And I know Rick Froio, Mike Wilson and everyone at Black River not only understand, they recognize how many people are feeling this, too.”
“Merry, Merry Christmas Baby” will be digitally available to stream and download on Oct. 16.