This Christmas (Donny Hathaway song)

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"This Christmas"
This Christmas by Donny Hathaway US vinyl.png
1970 US retail vinyl release
Single by Donny Hathaway
B-side"Be There"
ReleasedDecember 9, 1970 (December 9, 1970)
Recorded1970 (1970)
GenreR&B, soul, Christmas
LabelAtco Records
Songwriter(s)Donny Hathaway (as "Donny Pitts") and Nadine Theresa McKinnor
Producer(s)Don-Ric Enterprises[1]
Donny Hathaway singles chronology
"The Ghetto - Part 1"
"This Christmas"
"You've Got a Friend"

"This Christmas" is a song by American soul 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[2] and has since become a modern Christmas standard, with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers reporting that it was the 30th most-performed holiday song of all time.[3]

Phil Upchurch said the song was "absolutely the premiere holiday song written by an African American". It was written by Hathaway and Nadine McKinnor.[4]


"This Christmas" was recorded at Audio Finishers Studio on Ontario Street, Chicago in the fall of 1970.[2] 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.[2] 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."[5]

"This Christmas" was released as a single in 1970.[6] It initially saw little success, as it was listed just once on any of Billboard magazine's weekly published music charts in the 1970s, specifically Billboard's special Christmas Singles chart (on the week ending December 23, 1972, at position No. 11).[7] But in recent years, the song has made it onto a number of Billboard's weekly music charts. In addition to making its first appearance on the main Billboard Hot 100 songs chart in late December 2020 (at position No. 39), Hathaway's "This Christmas" has also appeared on these other Billboard music charts: Global 200 (No. 62 chart peak in early January 2021), Holiday 100 (No. 25 chart peak in early January 2014), Holiday Digital Song Sales (No. 36 chart peak in early January 2020), Holiday Streaming Songs (No. 27 chart peak in December 2020), Hot 100 Recurrents (No. 10 in December 2020), R&B Digital Song Sales (No. 10 chart peak in early January 2020), R&B Streaming Songs (No. 6 chart peak in early January 2021), R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs (No. 6 chart peak in early January 2021), and Streaming Songs (No. 27 chart peak in early January 2021).[8]

In 1991, Atco Records released a revised edition of their 1968 compilation album Soul Christmas that included "This Christmas".



Chart (2020–2021) Peak
Global 200 (Billboard)[9] 62
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[10] 58
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[11] 86
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 39
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[13] 25
US Rolling Stone Top 100[14] 28

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 well-known pop, smooth jazz and R&B artists. Prior to this re-release, artists who recorded cover versions included The Whispers, 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.

Christina Aguilera recorded a cover version of the song for her 2000 Christmas album My Kind of Christmas.[15]

Elliott Yamin released his version as his debut single in December 2006, which reached No. 21 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart.[16]

A cover of the song by Chris Brown, recorded for the 2007 film of the same name, peaked at No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was certified gold by the RIAA.[17][18] Covers by Seal and by American band Train each went to No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart in 2015 and 2016, respectively.[19][20]

Lady Antebellum covered the song for the 2012 Christmas album On This Winter's Night. In December 2012, Philadelphia Tribune music critic Nekesa Mumbi Moody praised Lady Antebellum's recording and the rest of the album.[21] However, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney panned the album and called the trio's cover recording a "slickly insincere 1980s soul."[22]

CeeLo Green covered the song for Cee Lo's Magic Moment (2012). Also in December 2012, Alan Sculley of Asbury Park Press praised CeeLo Green's recording as "a good Stevie Wonder".[23] One of The StarPhoenix music critics called CeeLo's takes on the song and "What Christmas Means to Me" not as good as original versions but "worth a listen" with "enough originality".[24] However, Melissa Ruggieri of The Atlanta Journal–Constitution panned CeeLo's version as skippable and "surprisingly dull".[25]

In December 2016, Mark Daniell of The Ottawa Sun praised versions by the following artists as "good": Lady Antebellum, Chris Brown, Macy Gray, and CeeLo Green.[26]

Jess Glynne version[edit]

"This Christmas"
Jess Glynne - This Christmas.png
Single by Jess Glynne
Released12 November 2020
  • Donny Hathaway
  • Nadine Theresa McKinnor
Jess Glynne singles chronology
"Lie for You"
"This Christmas"

English singer and songwriter Jess Glynne released a cover version of the song as a single on 12 November 2020.[27] The single peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart.[28]


Talking about the song, Glynne said, "I chose 'This Christmas' by Donny Hathaway as I love the tone of this record and I'm thankful that Amazon Music have given me the opportunity to do my own version of it for them. This year has been such a hard one and there's no doubt this Christmas is going to be difficult for so many people. Music is so important as it gives us moments of escapism and I think more than ever having an uplifting feel good song is so necessary."[29]


Chart (2021) Peak
Italy (FIMI)[30] 72
UK Singles (OCC)[31] 3

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "45cat - Donny Hathaway - This Christmas". 45cat. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Hoekstra, David (December 13, 2009). "Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas"". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  3. ^ "ASCAP Unwraps the Top 30 Holiday Songs of the Century". ASCAP. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  4. ^ "This Christmas - Donny Hathaway". AllMusic. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  5. ^ Waldron, Clarence (December 24, 2007). "Writer Of "This Christmas" Song Describes Its Timeless Appeal". Jet.
  6. ^ Hildebrand, Lee (1994). Stars of Soul and Rhythm & Blues. Billboard Books. p. 93.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920-2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 39. ISBN 0-89820-161-6.
  8. ^ "Donny Hathaway Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  9. ^ "Donny Hathaway Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  10. ^ "Donny Hathaway – This Christmas" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  11. ^ "Donny Hathaway – This Christmas". Singles Top 100. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  12. ^ "Donny Hathaway Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  13. ^ "Donny Hathaway Chart History (Holiday 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Songs". Rolling Stone. December 24, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  15. ^ "Christina Aguiler cover of Donny Hathaway's 'This Christmas'". Who Sapled. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  16. ^ "Elliott Yamin Chart History: Adult Contemporary". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Chris Brown - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  18. ^ Bowden, Eric. "Which States Have the Most Holiday Spirit?". AccuRadio. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  19. ^ "Seal - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  20. ^ "Adult Contemporary". Billboard. December 17, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  21. ^ "Reviews: Holiday albums from CeeLo and others". Philadelphia Tribune. December 21, 2012. pp. 4–6 – via ProQuest. [...] do Donny Hathaway proud on 'This Christmas' [...]
  22. ^ Hunter-Tilney, Ludovic (December 21, 2012). "Lady Antebellum: On This Winter's Night". – via ProQuest.
  23. ^ Sculley, Alan (December 23, 2012). "Last-minute shopping". Asbury Park Press. p. 1 – via ProQuest.
  24. ^ McKay, Stephanie; Robertson, Bill; Stewart, Jeanette; Fuller, Cam (December 13, 2012). "The 12 albums of Christmas". The StarPhoenix. p. C-1. [Green's] versions of 'What Christmas Means to Me' and Donny Hathaway's 'This Christmas' can't touch the originals, but he adds enough originality to make them worth a listen.
  25. ^ Ruggieri, Melissa (December 15, 2012). "MUSIC: Stars brighten season with CDs". The Atlanta Journal–Constitution. p. D-1 – via ProQuest.
  26. ^ Daniell, Mark (December 23, 2016). "For a comfy Christmas put these on your playlist and sit back". The Ottawa Sun. p. A-18 – via ProQuest. Alternative article title: "Best Christmas songs: The most festive tracks for your holiday playlist".
  27. ^ "This Christmas (Amazon Original) by Jess Glynne on Amazon Music". Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  28. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company".
  29. ^ "Jess Glynne enters Christmas Number 1 race with festive cover". Official Charts Company. November 19, 2019.
  30. ^ "Jess Glynne – This Christmas". Top Digital Download. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  31. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 January 2021.