Christmas CDChristmas CD
Jaci Velasquez
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Jaci delivers again, with an inspired performance. In each song, she brings her characteristic passion and joy, and you know she means every word. Traditional carols like O Come, O Come Emmanuel, The First Noel and O Little Town of Bethlehem mingle with classic songs like White Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) to create a wonderful blend of timeless Christmas music. The beautiful Season of Love with Pete Orta reminds us that Christmas really is about love, and The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) reminds us that its about joy and laughter as well.

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TITLE: Christmas
ARTIST: Jaci Velásquez
LABEL: Word Records
GENRE: Folk/Pop
SPECIAL EFFECT(S): Latin-popstar Jaci Velásquez gets a little Christmas-y on her first seasonal offering, with parts spirit and sentiment. Listen for a duet with Pete Orta and a hidden cover of "The Chipmunk Song."
PRODUCER(S): Chris Harris

When Jaci Velásquez hit the Christian music scene back in 1996, some critics dared to call her "the next Amy Grant." Looking back from today, such a pronouncement was neither altogether realistic nor accurate. But no one can say this 21-year-old hasn't made her mark. She was the first solo artist in the history of Christian music to reach gold status with a debut album--the fastest selling solo debut artist in her genre. She was the first Christian artist to appear in the "Best Latin Pop Performance" category of the GRAMMY Awards with her 2000 nomination.

And it's no wonder…the girl can sing! She has a terrific range, sonically kind and sometimes even amazing--with the only annoyance being the increasing breathiness she injects into every song these days.

On Christmas, Jaci's first seasonal release, you'll hear a lot of that breathiness. "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" is just one instance. But if you can listen past that, you might really dig the other traditional holiday mix here, as well as the new stuff. There's something for everyone: Grandma ("O Little Town of Bethlehem"), weird Uncle Bob ("Feliz Navidad") and your little 9-year-old cousin ("The Chipmunk Song").

All of the original are songs here: "Angels", "It Wouldn't Be Christmas", and the duet with Pete Orta, "Season of Love" are all equal parts sentimentality and spirituality. Christmas is one of those all purpose Christmas albums. Essential for Jaci Velásquez fans. A good choice for the relative whose name you may have unwittingly drawn.

--Melissa Riddle