This Christmas (Donny Hathaway song)

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"This Christmas"
Single by Donny Hathaway
B-side "Be There"
Released 1970 (1970)
Format 7-inch
Recorded 1970 (1970)
Genre Christmas, R&B
Length 3:51
Label Atco Records
Writer(s) Donny Hathaway (as "Donny Pitts") and Nadine McKinnor
Donny Hathaway singles chronology
"The Getto - Part 1"
(1970)
"This Christmas"
(1970)
"You've Got a Friend"
(duet with Roberta Flack)
(1971)

"This Christmas" is a song by American jazz musician Donny Hathaway released in 1970 by Atco Records. The song gained renewed interest when it was included in 1991 on Atco Records' revised edition of their 1968 Soul Christmas compilation album[1] and has since become a modern Christmas standard, with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers reporting that it was 30th most-performed holiday song of all time.[2]

Phil Upchurch said the song was "absolutely the premiere holiday song written by an African American". It was written by Hathaway and Nadine McKinnor.[3]

Background[edit]

"This Christmas" was recorded at Audio Finishers Studio on Ontario Street, Chicago in the fall of 1970.[1] Ric Powell (see credits below) said that Hathaway was "very upbeat during the session" and that he "knew what he wanted to do musically and the impact he wanted to make with this song" regarding the representation of African Americans in Christmas music.[1] On writing the song with Hathaway (who died in 1979), Nadine McKinnor said she felt "blessed to have written with Donny a song that celebrates the possibilities, the expectations, and the anticipation of Christmas and the good fun and happy loving times", and that the creation of the song "was a God plan. God was in this plan. And Donny Hathaway was a genius."[4]

"This Christmas" was released as a single in 1970, where it saw little success,[5] charting only once on any of Billboard magazine's weekly published music charts. It made Billboard '​s special Christmas Singles chart on the week of December 23, 1972, peaking at No. 11.[6] In 1991, Atco Records released a revised edition of their 1968 compilation album Soul Christmas that included "This Christmas".

Cover versions[edit]

After the 1991 release of Atco Records' Soul Christmas, the song became particularly notable for the popularity of its numerous covers by other artists, particularly pop and R&B artists. Prior to this re-release, artists who recorded cover versions included The Temptations, Gladys Knight & the Pips, as well as Patti LaBelle, who titled a Christmas album after the song. A previously unheard recording of the song by Diana Ross from 1974 was released on Motown Records' compilation album Christmas in the City in 1993.

More contemporary notable covers include Gloria Estefan (1993), Christina Aguilera (2000), Destiny's Child (2001), Harry Connick, Jr. (2003), Aretha Franklin (2008), Cee Lo Green (2012), Lady Antebellum (2012), Pentatonix (2012), John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (2012), as well as Mary J. Blige (2013). A cover of the song by Chris Brown recorded for a film of the same name (2007) peaked at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100.[7] However, the cover was included in AccuRadio's top 5 least liked holiday songs.[8]

Credits[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Hoekstra, David (13 December 2009). "Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas"". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "ASCAP Unwraps the Top 30 Holiday Songs of the Century". ASCAP. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "This Christmas - Donny Hathaway". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Waldron, Clarence (24 December 2007). "Writer Of "This Christmas" Song Describes Its Timeless Appeal". Jet. 
  5. ^ Hildebrand, Lee (1994). Stars of Soul and Rhythm & Blues. Billboard Books. p. 93. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920-2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 39. ISBN 0-89820-161-6. 
  7. ^ "Chris Brown - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Bowden, Eric. "Which States Have the Most Holiday Spirit?". AccuRadio. Retrieved 19 December 2014.