Last month, Lauren Henderson released her latest EP, Classic Christmas, via her own Brontosaurus Records. The album is a present-day take on her four personal favorite holiday classics.
When starting to record the EP, Henderson contemplated a quote by Nina Simone, “It is the responsibility of an artist to reflect the times (in which he lives).” Henderson went on to say “This year, the holiday season and Christmas may seem different to some people. Many people have lost loved ones, are in difficult financial situations, or feel lost and alone. Many people continue to fight against oppressive administrations and fight for social justice, fair treatment, and for their voices and stories to be heard.” Henderson continues, “There are beautiful people who need love and support. I wanted these songs to be honest and full of hope.” Henderson's modern take on these songs do just that.
The EP opens with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic, “My Favorite Things,” but you might notice the lyrics are a bit different. Updated for today's political climate, lyrics like "when the system stings," speaks volumes. As a black woman, and a member of the Afro-LatinX community, Henderson uses her voice to share her experiences and concerns. Henderson goes on to say, “On “My Favorite Things”, I saw an opportunity to reflect my culture and the social climate in the United States by modifying the lyrics.”
The second song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” while a pretty straight forward take, showcases the whole ensemble. The album features pianists Issac Wilson and Sullivan Fortner, bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Allan Mednard.
“Once In Royal David’s City,” is another song which lyrics have been changed to show the strength of women and promote gender empowerment. Henderson, herself, is a prime example of a strong and inspiring woman. Combining her love for music, philanthropy, and business as the CEO of Brontosaurus Records. Graduating with her Executive Master of Business Administration from Brown University (RI) and the IE Business School (Madrid) in May of 2019. She earned degrees in both Music and Hispanic Studies, at Wheaton College (MA).
Perhaps my favorite song off the EP is the final one, “What A Wonderful World.” The arrangement and mature harmony gives such a beloved classic an elegant twist. Henderson is accompanied by Sullivan Fortner, whose piano stylings are reminiscent of Chopin. Fortner previously teamed up with Henderson on her chart-topping full-length album, The Songbook Session. Henderson hopes the song “will touch people’s souls, especially as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Classic Christmas is the perfect addition to your Christmas playlist. We love hearing some of our favorite songs but updated to gently remind us of the difficulties still going on in our world. Now more than ever we need to spread love, support, kindness, and equality.
Lauren Henderson will be playing this Friday, Dec 13th at the Blue Note, in New York. She has two brunch shows and will be joined by Issac Wilson, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler, and Allan Mednard. If you can't make it, live streaming tickets are available for only ten dollars! You can purchase your ticket here, Blue Note.