New Video By The Tribe Band “This Christmas”

At this time of the year, the thoughts of music fans turn to those great charity records cut in the 1980s that gathered dozens of stars in a single recording studio. We loved them for the camaraderie, the concentration of talent, and the participants’ willingness to check their egos at the door and collaborate. Why don’t they make singles like those anymore?, you might ask. Well, they do. The Los Angeles studio wizards behind The Tribe Band are practiced hands at group tributes and they’ve overseen a thunderous holiday session that includes contributions by some of the defining voices of the last forty years of popular music — including the irrepressible Kenny Loggins, the electrifying Melissa Manchester, the soulful Lamont Dozier, Jr., the effortlessly winning Richard Marx, and the incomparable Michael McDonald.

They’ve joined their golden voices with those of Freda Payne, Ken Stacey, Frank McComb, Florence LaRue, Terrell Edwards, and many others on The Tribe’s rendition of “This Christmas,” the 1970 seasonal ballad by the late Donny Hathaway. Alas, Hathaway didn’t live to see his composition become a Christmas standard: his death in 1979 robbed popular music of one of its guiding spirits. But we can be pretty certain that he’d appreciate the passion, commitment, and sheer musical precision that The Tribe and their associates bring to their version of his song, produced and arranged by Ken Stacey — which was one of the first Christmas records to be written and recorded by an African-American artist. One by one, these celebrated singers step to the microphone and deliver their lines with absolute conviction and immense soul, paying tribute to Hathaway’s vision with every note. Appropriately, The Tribe is contributing all proceeds from the sales of “This Christmas” to the Donny Hathaway Legacy Project, a nonprofit dedicated to providing mental health resources to those who desperately need them.

It’s a good cause that prompted The Tribe to re-cut “This Christmas,” but it’s great music that animates the session. The video for the track takes the viewer inside this recording studio and shows us a remarkable meeting of talented artists working in unison on behalf of a worthwhile charity. Is this the holiday spirit in action? Certainly. But these singers and instrumentalists truly enjoy playing together, hanging out, and inhabiting a classic song by one of the undisputed kings of soul — and this warm, engaging clip makes that manifest. It’s a thrill to see so many famous faces; it’s even more wonderful to see those faces light up with such joy.

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