By Darlene Donloe
It’s hard to believe that Jonathan Butler has never released a Christmas CD.
Having already made his mark in the pop, R&B and gospel music genre, it stands to reason that he would add Christmas music to his list of accomplishments.
After listening to his 10-song compilation, turns out the CD, released last month by Artistry Music, was well worth the wait.
Jonathan Butler’s Merry Christmas To You, features the title track, This Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Happy Holidays, Little Drummer Boy, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Sweet Little Jesus Boy, The First Noel and O Holy Night.
Each song has a JB stamp, adding just a bit of funk to the proceedings. Sleigh Ride is instrumental and Merry Christmas To You is a silky ballad. Both are effective and affecting.
Eight of the songs on the CD are traditional. However, Butler penned two additional songs, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas To You.
Butler even had the nerve to tackle the classic Donny Hathaway hit, This Christmas, with incredible results. What he does with Little Drummer Boy is worth the price of the CD.
For decades Jonathan Butler, a two-time Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/guitarist, has been entertaining the world with his luscious voice and acoustic guitar.
It’s about time that he added to his already full repertoire. The result is a fantastically satisfying Merry Christmas To You, which he produced and arranged.
If you think you’ve heard just about every rendition of This Christmas, think again. And that goes for the rest of the Butler’s offerings as well. Yes, some of the songs are the same holiday songs that have been played for as long as anyone can remember. However, Butler has kicked them up a notch. These are NOT your mother’s Christmas songs.
Butler, who possesses his own style, enlisted the help of some his jazzy friends, including Dave Koz, Rick Braun and Paul "Shilts" Weimer. He also brought in his daughter, Jodie, and and bassist Dan Lutz.
This has been a busy year for Butler, a former child star who is the youngest of 17 children and was the first black artist played on radio stations in his native South Africa. First, he launched the Jonathan Butler Foundation in his South African homeland to fund music education programs that give children the purpose to overcome a life of drugs and poverty. Butler, who completed a media tour in several South African cities and performed two concerts there in September to raise funds for the foundation, will soon form a U. S. affiliate to support the foundation’s music and arts programs in South Africa for children ages 4-17.
Butler is also part of the Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour with Oleta Adams and keyboardist Keiko Matsui. The tour kicks off Nov. 29, in Sarasota, Fla. and concludes Dec. 22, at the Warfield in San Francisco.
To find out more about Butler and his upcoming Dave Koz & Christmas Tour, log on to www.jonathanbutler.com/.
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), Jonathan Butler’s Merry Christmas To You gets an E (excellent).