For author Deborah Evans Price, Christmas has already arrived.
Her new book, Country Faith Christmas (Regnery Publishing), features 37 favorite Christmas memories, holiday traditions, and scriptures from country artists. Among the contributors are Luke Bryan, Dolly Parton, Florida Georgia Line, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Craig Morgan, The Oak Ridge Boys, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Canaan Smith. Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman provided a foreword for the book, along with her own favorite Christmas memory and recipe.
“I loved the idea of getting people to talk about their Christmas traditions, and favorite recipes and memories,” said Price, who has been recognized by the CMA and GMA for her achievements as a journalist.
“I love [the story of] Charlie Daniels giving [his wife] Hazel a bowling ball for Christmas back when they were first married and didn’t have much money. He worked some extra gigs and surprised her, ‘cause she was on a bowling team and didn’t have her own ball. I love that story. They have been married for 51 years now and are such a great couple. Charlie wrote four Advent devotionals. He knows the Bible and is a great Bible scholar and to have him sit down and write those, it was so kind of him to do that.”
“We have Reba in this book,” Price added. “She looks gorgeous in all the photographs. I love the story of her sister, Susie, wrapping up Reba’s old basketball shoes from high school and giving them to her, and then we have a picture of her and Susie with the shoes, which is great.”
These vignettes are set alongside an assortment of Christmas photos and savory holiday recipes, including: Christmas coconut noodles from Eric Paslay’s mother; Phil Vassar’s pumpkin bread; Mickey Guyton’s blueberry dump cake; and whole grain gingerbread courtesy of Brad Paisley’s mother, Sandy.
“I really have to thank the mothers,” Price said. “They tracked down the recipes and the childhood photos and were such a great help putting this book together.”
The passion project came with a tight deadline. “We signed on to do the book in March and it was due in June. We really had to rush to get it together, but everybody has been so helpful, with artists jumping on the phone to do interviews,” she said.
Scotty McCreery was the first artist Price interviewed for Country Faith Christmas. “We were having dinner one night with Scotty when he was in town, along with his publicist, Scott Stem. I told him I was working on the book, and he was gracious and did the interview right then. So we finished Scotty’s chapter with the production team and we were able to send that out to show other people what we were doing and how we were going to incorporate childhood photos, recipes and design elements into each artist’s chapter.”
Price is quick to credit the artists and artists’ publicists for their aid throughout the process. “I couldn’t have done this without them. We got to the end and we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we don’t have Luke Bryan’s chili dog recipe!’ And Jessie [Schmidt, Bryan’s publicist] was a great help,” Price said.
Country Faith Christmas also includes a CD. The compilation, Country Faith Christmas: 14 Songs of the Season From Today’s Leading Country Music Stars, features Carrie Underwood (“Do You Hear What I Hear”), Dolly Parton (“Joy To The World”), Martina McBride (“Silent Night”), Alan Jackson (“Let It Be Christmas”), Hunter Hayes (“Go Tell It On The Mountain”), and more.
Price released the first book in the series, Country Faith, in 2013. She has since expanded the Country Faith brand with a new jewelry line in collaboration with Los Angeles’ Bob Siemon Designs, a faith-based jewelry manufacturer that crafted merchandise for the 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ.
“They sent us photos and asked what we thought would most appeal to a country music consumer,” Price said of the line, which includes bracelets, keychains, necklaces and more.
After HarperCollins released the first Country Faith book, Price brought the rights to the Country Faith brand. “That’s how we were able to do the jewelry deal, because we own the name. I’ve learned a lot through this. I’m not a business person, but I’m learning to be,” she said.
There is more to come under the Country Faith brand. “Next year there will be two more albums coming out. A Country Faith hymns collection will come out around Easter, so we are selecting songs for that now. We have a wish list of 20-25 hymns we are in the process of getting the licenses for. In the fall, we will have a second volume of Country Faith which will be country songs from a faith-based perspective.”
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