Christmas playlists bring a mix of artists who you never hear together at any other time of the year. Where else can you find Bing Crosby followed by Wham and then Taylor Swift? And Augusta has its own ties to Christmas music.
Billboard ranked the top 100 Christmas tunes of all time in November, and a few Augustans made the list.
What’s Christmas without Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree — a song she recorded when she was only 13 in 1958. Billboard named it sixth on the all-time favorites’ list. The song has sold more than 25 million copies and is fourth on the list of most downloaded Christmas songs.
Although born in Atlanta, Lee lived on Lionel Street in Augusta during her childhood. In March 1956, The Augusta Chronicle reported that the 11 year-old Augusta resident would appear on a nationally televised show on ABC.
She would later be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the Country Music Association Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Another Augusta icon who made Billboard’s list is the Godfather himself – James Brown.
Brown’s Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto made it to 65th on the list.
Brown released three Christmas songs in his life and died on Christmas Day in 2006.
Billboard left off a couple of singers with Augusta ties.
Amy Grant was born in Augusta. At her May 25 concert at the Miller Theater, she said that although she didn’t have memories of living here because her family moved when she was only six months old, it was still a special place to her. On one trip to the area, she visited her Raleigh Drive home and was proud to call Augusta her “hometown.”
“There’s so much beauty in this place,” she said that night.
Grant, who was recently named a Kennedy Center honoree, has recorded five Christmas albums, which have sold more than six million copies.
The Tennessean called her Nashville’s Queen of Christmas and at a Christmas concert at the Ryman Auditorium in 2019, her songs were downloaded for the one billionth time.
And last but never least is Sharon Jones who recorded her own funky Christmas CD in 2015 with the Dap Kings.
Songs include Big Bulbs, Funky Little Drummer Boy and 8 Days (of Hanukkah).
From the comments at the Daptones’ YouTube page, it seems that recording got a lot of play in Starbucks.
Feature photo credit: Amy Grant concert at the Miller Theater May 25, 2022 by Charmain Z. Brackett
Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Her Broad Street Beat columns may contain opinion or first person narratives. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have headlines delivered to your inbox by signing up for the free newsletter.