When Aaron Watson’s fans request new music, he listens.
“For the past four or five years, my fans have just been harassing me for a Christmas record,” Watson tells MusicRow Magazine. “We’ve been flirting with the ideas of doing one for the past couple of years, but it always seemed like we ran out of time.”
This year, he’s made good on the idea.
Instead of just heading into the studio to lay down a collection of solo tracks, Watson decided to make the project a family affair, recording the album with his wife Kimberly and three children, Jake (12), Jack (10) and Jolee Kate (8).
An Aaron Watson Family Christmas, available now, features a slate of classic Christmas songs, as well as a couple of originals.
To record the album, the Watson family canceled a June vacation and decided to do a 12-day “staycation” at their home in Texas. Mornings were spent swimming and cooking out in the scorching 100-degree Texas heat.
“The kids would be swimming and listening to Christmas music on the speakers,” he recalls. “They got such a kick out of it.”
While evenings were spent in the “studio”—Kimberly’s closet, where Aaron strung Christmas lights and set up recording equipment, microphones and his computer.
The whole family sings on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” while Jolee Kate sings on Christmas Time Is Here, with Jack offering a scripture reading. Eldest son Jake sings on “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.”
“The kids would put on the headphones and sing their hearts out. I think this is one of the best little Christmas records and I’m biased because my babies are singing on it,” he says. “For me, it’s so special because it is like a time capsule, just with their little voices and how sweet they are. They won’t sound like this for long and they are at the right age…if they were too young being part of a project like this might be challenging and if they are too old, it kind of loses the sweetness.”
Kimberly appears on a few tracks, including “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Jingle Bells,” and the flirty “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and Aaron says it took a little convincing to get her to sing on the album.
“She’s never sang on anything before, but I’ve heard her sing in church,” he says. “She has a sweet, beautiful voice, but she just kept avoiding me like the plague. We ran through [“Baby It’s Cold Outside”] the first couple of times and I was like, ‘You’re not evening singing!’
“I still laugh about it, because I was going from the loving husband to the frustrated producer. She was acting shy and embarrassed, but we are literally in her closet surrounded by her clothes, it’s not like we were live on television. Finally, she just sang her heart out, and it sounded great.”
Elsewhere on the album, Watson gives a nod to classic country with the self-penned “Lonely Lonestar Christmas,” and offers a touching take on “She Stared At Him All Night,” penned by solo artist and former Sons of the Desert member Drew Womack.
Rather than record a straight-ahead country holiday album, Watson infuses it with shadings of big band music.
“One of the reasons I wanted to sing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ with Kimberly is that Dean Martin had one of my favorite versions of this song. The girl he had singing with him has a very airy, soft voice like the girls used to sing in the ‘30s and ‘40s, and Kim’s voice is just like that. The kids just got such a kick out of hearing their mama sing.”
Watson recalls growing up listening to music from Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr.
“I was born about 50 years too late but I’ve always loved that music. I probably sing that stuff better than country music,” he notes, adding that he hopes to one day record a Sinatra cover album.
As it is, Watson has plenty more country music and touring in the works. On January, he will launch another headlining trek beginning in Goliad, Texas.
2019 will mark Watson’s 20th year as a music artist and according to Watson, he celebrate with a new (non-holiday) album, Red Bandana, which is slated for June 21, 2019. The album includes 20 tracks, all penned by Watson.
“It’s been tough focusing on anything else because for the past two years I’ve been writing for this new album, and I wrote all 20 songs. It was important that I wrote this album. I wanted 20 new songs, to give the fans both quality and quantity. I think I’m starting to catch my stride as a singer and songwriter, so it’s exciting.”
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