While it’s always a special time of year for country artist Beth Marie Anderson when Christmas rolls around, this year Anderson’s beloved holiday is even a little bit more special.
That’s because she’s just released her fourth album, through which her love of Christmas can take flight.
Called Christmas With You and released in late November, it’s been a long-term project for Anderson.
“I’m so excited,” she said of the new album. “I’ve actually been writing for it for… well, since about 2011.”
Anderson said she wrote about half the album with B.C. songwriters, and the other half with Nashville writers, where the Parksville-raised singer/songwriter has spent much of her time since about 2009.
The record includes some brand-new songs, including Tropical Christmas and Reindeer Reunion; some previously released singles; and just two covers: The First Noël in a bluegrass style, and O Holy Night featuring acoustic string instruments including guitar, violin, cello and viola.
Different from other Christmas albums that provide only a few original songs, Anderson said she had to whittle down her count of about 15 original Christmas tunes to eight for the album.
“I had to make some hard choices,” she said.
Asked how her Christmas inspiration became so strong, she said positive experiences throughout her childhood have a lot to do with it.
“Oh my gosh, I love Christmas,” said Anderson. So much so, that her sister is enforcing a new rule: “I’m not allowed to sing Christmas songs or play Christmas songs in the house until after Halloween,” she said with a giggle.
“When I was growing up, I always had such positive Christmas experiences,” said Anderson. “We were a part of the Parksville Baptist Church so we did the Bethlehem Walk every year… it’s amazing. They recreate the village of Bethlehem and they have the little baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph and there is choir singing and hot chocolate and cookies.
“For me, everything about Christmas is amazing, from the food to the lights, family, the songs, just everything about it.”
So, for some of her original songs, Anderson drew directly from her experiences as a child. A Kid on Christmas Day, for example, is about keeping the wonder and excitement for Christmas that one experiences as a child alive as one grows up.
For other songs, Anderson tried to look at Christmas, or Christmas themes, in different ways.
Sitting down with different songwriters, Anderson said, the act of just talking about Christmas would lead to ideas such as Tropical Christmas.
Asking themselves why people get so stressed about Christmas, Anderson took a tropical/island look at the situation, applying what she’s experienced of the laid-back atmosphere both in Hawaii and growing up on Vancouver Island.
Soon, lines like “leave the worries and the flurries, the bustle and the hurry behind,” and they soon had a tropical track.
The Reindeer Reunion song came about through a discussion on what the reindeer might do all the other days of the year.
“That’s definitely a song that wrote itself,” said Anderson.
Though her first full Christmas album has just come out, and she’s finished an Island tour performing it, Anderson said she’s already thinking about her next holly and tinsel-covered album.
One song she hopes to include on that next record is Gingerbread Town, she said, which she wrote as a co-writer discussed her own mom’s tradition of building an entire gingerbread community every Christmas.
“I was asking her, ‘Well, do you mean a couple houses?’ and they were explaining that, no, it takes over her entire dining room table, and has a ski hill. They actually hand-string up lights between the different little houses,” Anderson said.
“I can’t wait to record my next Christmas album,” she said with another giggle.
For more info on Anderson and her Christmas album, including how to buy it, go to bethmarieanderson.com/news.