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Brian Culbertson's Soulful Christmas

Keyboardist Brian Culbertson is making this Christmas the best ever. He has always celebrated the holidays with his family in central Illinois in a big way. He says, "I love getting together with the whole family and I really love making fires in the fireplace, just chilling out in the living room and listening to pretty Christmas music, and obviously the food. Everything about it is just wonderful. A great time of year."

To celebrate this holiday, Culbertson has released A Soulful Christmas. He says, "I just wanted to kind of put a fresh twist on all these songs that have obviously been done a million times, and bring a new sound to them. Like the title suggests, there's a lot of soul there, a heart and emotion I put into each and every song. There's actually a lot of variety as well. There's gospel, there's funky stuff, there's orchestral pieces with piano, there's a lot of different things. I just want to create fun and hopefully break out every year and enjoy it."

Brian Culbertson wanted to make A Soulful Christmas something different that he has not done on other releases. He says, "The opening, 'Joy to the World,' starts off with a very traditional brass quintet. It's almost like you're in a cathedral listening to this. It just kind of plays one time through the melody and all of a sudden it holds, and a full gospel band comes in with a full choir singing the song, taking it in a whole new direction. I just love that there are different styles going on. In the next song, we take 'Deck the Halls' and add an orchestra on it and sax man Warren Hill is on there."

On A Soulful Christmas, Culbertson wanted to make sure everything sounded real. He says, "I really wanted to make it all live instrumentation. From live real drums to percussion, bass, guitars, orchestra, choirs and horn sections, so that nothing would really get outdated. I know people want to pull out their holiday music every year. If you're using the latest computer stuff, in five years you'll say, 'Boy, that kind of sounds old' so I just wanted to make this a little more timeless. I've never really did that in my records. Everything kind of has a contemporary feel. This still sounds contemporary, yet it's all live, and hopefully, it will sound current for years to come."

Another way Brian Culbertson is doing to celebrate the holiday is to front A Soulful Christmas Tour this holiday season. He says, "I'm bringing out with me guitarist Ray Parker Jr., singer Bobby Caldwell, Warren Hill and sax man Eric Darius. I really love working with other artists. Everyone is totally pro. They bring their own musicianship into it. It just adds so much. When you get five guys amazing at their own craft all coming together, it's really magical up there. It's just a really nice, [a] unique mix of a lot of different stuff. We're doing not only Christmas music, but everyone's original hit songs as well. Pretty much everyone is on stage the whole time so it's a big superband. We're all up there collaborating and playing on everyone else's music. It creates such a great vibe on stage and there's so much energy up there."

This is the first time that Culbertson has fronted a Christmas show. He says, "I've been a part of several tours like this in the past, but this is the first time I've taken the reigns so to speak, making it happen. We have 11 musicians on stage, plus my whole band, and I got a horn section. There's a lot going on so there's so much fun from the audience's perspective. They're getting up there dancing a lot through the show. It's just a great time."

Brian Culbertson says it's not easy to arrange a show like this. "It's a lot harder than it looks," he says. "Everyone [that] comes in sees a nice, polished show, but there's definitely a ton of preparation that goes into it. I've been talking to all the artists for several months and figuring out what music exactly we're going to get together, getting all the charts together, getting the band and rehearsing. We rehearsed for a week in the middle of November. Then getting the stage set up--'O.K. How are we going to set up? We got 11 guys up here. How are we going to fit everyone on the stage and getting the Christmas tree and the presents and all that up there?' A lot [is] going into it, but obviously we're having a great time and it's all coming together really well. Just a good show."

Just as when he goes out on tour throughout the year, Culbertson bring his father Jim along to play trumpet with him. On the CD A Soulful Christmas, he uses his wife Michelle as a vocalist. For Brian Culbertson, it's always a family affair and at Christmas time, it's always good to come back home.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Brian Culbertson
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