Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Holiday Guide: Holiday music for gift-giving

"Blocks of Joy" photo by Paula Slade

Today we turn our attention to gifts of holiday music, which includes the best selections for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kawanzaa.

This article, the second installment in this series, provides information and ideas for parents and caregivers for children’s entertainment-oriented gifts. 

From now until December 21, 2011, new offerings will be featured in multiple entertainment categories, including more posts to come on music, which is our largest category.

The products, which appear below, have been researched for quality as well as value, and are geared to provide the children in your life with many hours of positive and fun-filled entertainment.

Although pricing has been provided for you at time of this publication, it is suggested that you cross-compare with various online as well as stick and brick retailers when available.

For all of the featured albums, links for sound samples, MP3 downloads and CDs are provided, so you may wish to bookmark this page to enable further explorations at your leisure. 

As always, you are the best judge of what is appropriate for your child's entertainment.


Putumayo Celtic Christmas

 This is an enchanting collection of some of the most beloved holiday music, which has been reinterpreted with Celtic flair, and given new life by various well-known artists - Putumayo Celtic Christmas.

Following the highly successful Putumayo Christmas releases such as A Jazz & Blues Christmas, New Orleans Christmas and Christmas Around the World, which combined have sold over 1 million copies, this album represents the Celtic musical flavors of Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada and United States, and incorporates harmonious vocals as well as instrumentals utilizing fiddle, harp, flute and mandolin. 

This 11-track album features the following songs and artists:
1.  The Albion Christmas Band “Here We Come A Wassailing”
2.  Charles T. Cozens “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
3.  The Gothard Sisters “Little Drummer Girl”
4.   DruidStone “Noel Nouvelet”
5.   David Huntsinger “Angels We Have Heard on High”
6.   Charles T. Cozens “Good King Wenceslas”
7.   Lasairirfhíona Ní Chonaola “Nollaig Bhan (White Christmas)”
8.   Steve Schuch & Night Heron Consort “Joy to the World”
9.   Áine Minogue “Manx Jezebel Carol”
10. David Arkenstone “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
11. Dougie MacLean “Auld Lang Syne”

Full one-minute sound samples are available for previewing at

MP3 downloads are available for $.0.99 per track or the entire album for $8.99 at

The suggested retail price for the Putumayo Celtic Christmas CD is $14.98, and currently through Amazon Marketplace pricing begins at $9.36.

Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2

Sure to delight the teens in your life and followers of the hit television show Glee.

This is a five-star rockin’ album that includes the following songs and cast favorites:

1.  "All I Want For Christmas Is You" - Amber Riley (Mercedes)
2.  "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"  - Darren Criss (
Blaine) and Lea Michele (Rachel)
3.  "Santa Baby"  - Naya Rivera (Santana)
4.  "Christmas Eve With You" - Jayma Mays (Emma) and Matthew Morrison (Will)
5.  "Little Drummer Boy"  - Kevin McHale (Artie)
6.  "River"  - Lea Michele (Rachel)
7.  "Do You Hear What I Hear?" - Lindsay Pearce and Alex Newell (`Glee Project')
8.  "Let It Snow"  - Darren Criss (
Blaine) and Chris Colfer (Kurt)
9.  "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" - Mark Sailing (Puck), Cory Monteith (Finn) and Samuel Larsen (`Glee Project')
10. "Christmas Wrapping" - Heather Morris (
11. "Blue Christmas" - Damian McGinty (Rory)
12. "Do They Know It's Christmas" - Cory Monteith (Finn), Amber Riley (Mercedes), Lea Michele (Rachel), Chris Colfer (Kurt), Kevin McHale (Artie), Heather Morris (Brittany), Mark Salling (Puck), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina), Naya Rivera (Santana)

Sound samples for previewing and MP3 downloads are available through where the entire album is offered at $10.99, or individual tracks at $1.29 each.

The full CD format is best priced through Amazon Marketplace starting at $9.28.

The Kwanzaa Album

From Women of the Calabash comes The Kwanzaa Album, one of the finest recordings available that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the holiday.

The album features beautifully performed and lush harmonious vocals with a mix of percussion instruments made from natural materials such as bamboo, calabash and wood.

Tracks (some sung in the African language) include the following selections:

1.  “Shekere Samba”
2.  “Arara Yemonya”
3.  “Nksoi Sikelel'iafrica”
4.  “Ituri Forest
5.  “Chemutenguire”
6.  “Mya Si Grei”
7.  “Saraka”
8.  “Ishe Oluwa”
9.  “Yankady”
10. “Mena”
11. “Oshun Chant”
12. “Ogunire”
13. “Seven Principles”
14. “Gourd Cuanco”
15. “Coming Home”
16. “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

Sound samples and MP3 download for each track of The Kawanzaa Album is available for $0.99, or $8.99 for the entire 16-track album through

The full CD format is best priced and available through Amazon Marketplace starting at $10.99.

Lights, Vol 2. A Hanukkah Sampler

A festive and tuneful addition to the holiday, eighteen delightfully performed Hanukkah tracks in this brand new album release featuring many popular artists of Jewish music, including Craig Taubman, The Klezmatics and Alberto Mizrahi to name just a few.

The entire album is sure to delight the whole family and includes the following selections and artists:

 1. Maoz Tzur - Craig Taubman
2.  Pass the Candle - Michelle Citrin
3.  Tzur Chayenu - Josh Nelson
4.  Fire - Yael Meyer
5.  I Have a Little Dreidl - Joshua Nelson
6.  Hanerot - Pharaoh's Daughter
7.  Scottish Niggun - Rabbi Menachem Creditor
8.  Hanukah Gelt - The Klezmatics
9.  This Light Tonight - Elana Jagoda
10. Rock of Ages - Rebbesoul
11. New Light - Naomi Less
12. Ocho Kandelikas - Alberto Mizrahi
13. Mi Yimalel - Craig Taubman
14. Hanerot Halalu - Mare Winningham
15. Suri Goali Yah - Hillel Tigay / Year 1
16. B’Rakhot L’ Hanukka - Milken Archive
17. Shehechianu - Craig Taubman
18. Honika Electronica - Smooth-E

The MP3 release and pricing for Lights, Vol 2. A Hanukkah Sampler will be available on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 through, where sound samples for the entire album are already available.

Sing We Now of Christmas

Sing We Now of Christmas is superb and meticulously recorded album of classic holiday carols performed a cappella from Non Stop Musique.

Originally created as a program to assist families and choral groups master the art of singing four-part harmony, Sing We Now of Christmas was launched late last year with multiple rehearsal CDs that make learning music by ear easy for soprano, alto, tenor and bass. 

The harmonies are all-original and are designed to appeal to a wide audience. Written specifically in keys that are sung by the average person, each part is easy to grasp with this program.

The full chorus CD or MP3 download is perfect for singing along or just listening.

Musical tracks include the following favorites:

1.  “Angels We Have Heard On High”
2.  “Away In A Manger”
3.  “Coventry Carol”
4.  “Deck the Halls”
5.  “The First Nowell”
6.  “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”
7.  “Good King Wenceslas”
8.  “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”
9.  “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”
10. “Joy to the World!”
11. “O Come All Ye Faithful”
12. “O Little Town of Bethlehem
13. “Silent Night”
14. “What Child Is This”
15. “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”

The full-chorus MP3 is available to sound sample and download at CD Baby and for $0.99 per track. The entire MP3 album is available for $8.99 at

The CD format for Sing We Now of Christmas is available direct from Non Stop Musique for $12.00, where you will also find pricing for this unique teaching program. 

If you happen to live in the Bellingham, Washington area, members of the Non Stop Christmas Carolers are performing at multiple venues during December; you can check out their schedule here:

Below for your enjoyment, is a video that explains Non Stop Musique’s teaching by ear program in depth.

If you found this post helpful, you may wish to check out the following for additional gift ideas:

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