As the holiday season approaches, it’s hard not to feel a sense of warmth and joy. A great way to amplify those feelings is by tuning into some classic Christmas songs. While they always have a special place in our hearts, it’s important to recognize the contribution that black artists have made to the genre.

From soulful, smooth renditions of old-time classics to modern bops that will get you up and dancing in no time, these artists have created some of the most iconic holiday tunes of all time. Get ready to add some new classics to your holiday playlist!


“Silent Night” – The Temptations

“Silent Night” by The Temptations is a timeless classic that has undoubtedly stood the test of time as one of the greatest Christmas songs. With its soulful melody, heartwarming lyrics, and rich harmonies, this track highlights the group’s exceptional talents and their ability to breathe new life into a traditional carol.

The Temptations’ version of “Silent Night” is a true masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences of all ages, making it a must-have on any Christmas playlist.


“This Christmas” – Donny Hathaway

Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” is an exceptionally soulful tune from the 70s, beloved by Christmas music connoisseurs of all walks of life. Hathaway lays down his velvety, emotive vocals over an upbeat arrangement characterized by a contagious horn section. The song’s catchy chorus is guaranteed to get everyone singing along and feeling the holiday cheer.

Hathaway has been documented as saying that he wrote it with the idea of creating an instantly classic track that transcends cultural barriers. With its undeniably catchy melody and timeless vocal delivery, “This Christmas” has certainly achieved just that.


“Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” – James Brown

The soulful and funky track “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” is a must-listen during the holiday season. James Brown’s powerful voice combined with the groovy rhythms and catchy call-and-response lyrics make it an instant classic. While it may not be your typical Christmas song, it delivers an important message of hope, unity, and giving back to those who are less fortunate.

It’s a perfect example of how Black artists have contributed to the Christmas music canon with their unique style and perspectives.


“Someday at Christmas” – Stevie Wonder

“Christmas fashioning and magic warmth, wrapped up with a dash of melodic finesse.” This is the kind of experience Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas” proffers to the discerning listener. There is a charisma about how Wonder taps into the childlike anticipation of Christmas in this song, allowing the lyrics and melody to cut through the layers of cynicism that encase us as adults.

The tune is a perfect representation of what we can come to expect from black artists’ Christmas songs: soulful, comforting, and yet full of stimulating creativity.


“Merry Christmas Baby” – Otis Redding

Oh man, you have got to check out that Christmas song by Otis Redding! It’s got soul like you wouldn’t believe. “Merry Christmas Baby” is the perfect tune for any Christmas party or gathering, with its upbeat tempo and jazzy horns. The way Otis’s smooth vocals blend with the instruments is pure magic. If you want to groove your way through the holidays, this song is a must-listen.


“Christmas Time is Here” – Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fam, have you heard “Christmas Time is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio? This jazz classic has been featured in numerous films and television shows, but did you know it was originally recorded specifically for the Peanuts holiday special, A Charlie Brown Christmas? With its playful melody and soothing piano solos, this song is a staple in the Christmas canon.

And while the Vince Guaraldi Trio may not have been black, their music has been celebrated and beloved by people of all backgrounds, making it an enduring contribution to the soundtrack of the holiday season.


“What Christmas Means to Me” – John Legend

John Legend’s rendition of “What Christmas Means to Me” delivers an unmatched, jazzy pleasure with his humorous jaunts and brilliant rhythmic harmonies. The Grammy award-winning artist transports the listener to a dreamy winter wonderland filled with infectious energy and festive vibes.

It’s an absolute treat for anyone looking to enjoy sweet, soulful music and revel in the holiday spirit, while also appreciating the craft behind the creation of an incredible seasonal classic.


“The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole’s rendition of “The Christmas Song” is a timeless classic that showcases the smooth and velvety tone of his voice. As one of the few black artists who achieved mainstream success during the 1940s and ’50s, Cole’s contributions to the holiday music genre have left a lasting impact. This song, also known as ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,’ captures the warmth and festivity of the season with its iconic opening lyrics.

Cole’s soulful and understated performance evokes nostalgic memories of cozy nights spent by the fireplace with loved ones, making it a must-listen for anyone celebrating the holiday season.


“Joy to the World” – Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin’s soulful rendition of “Joy to the World” brings an extra helping of holiday cheer to any festive gathering. Her powerful vocals burst with emotion and exultation, igniting a contagious palpable excitement that’s sure to get everyone up on their feet dancing. You’ll be hard-pressed to resist the unstoppable jubilance of this timeless classic.


“Jingle Bells” – Diana Ross & The Supremes

The classic holiday tune laced with R&B charm and sultry sounds, this rendition inspired by the legendary Diana Ross is a must-have in any Christmas playlist. Her soulful voice adds a touch of sophisticated elegance to the ever-popular jingle of “Jingle Bells”.

Additionally, the dynamic vocals of The Supremes complement the festive sleigh bells, creating a joyous ambience that is sure to get everyone in the holiday spirit. This song is a testament to the beauty of black artistry in the realm of Christmas music.


“Do You Hear What I Hear?” – Gladys Knight & The Pips

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Gladys Knight and The Pips is a hauntingly beautiful song that delivers a sense of wonder and awe during the Christmas season. The soulful harmonies of this R&B legend are unforgettable, leaving audiences spellbound each time the song is played.

With its powerful and emotive lyrics, Gladys Knight and The Pips transport us to a world of hope and love, where we can dream of magical moments spent with loved ones during this special time of year.”


“White Christmas” – The Drifters

“White Christmas” by The Drifters is a beautiful and soulful rendition of the classic holiday song. With harmonious vocals and a lively tempo, it is a perfect addition to any Christmas playlist. The song exudes an aura of warmth and familiarity, almost like a warm hug on a cold winter day. Decades later, this timeless song still remains popular and beloved by music lovers of all ages.


“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton’s rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” delivers a soulful and stirring performance that brings a unique perspective to this classic holiday tune. Her emotive vocals and impeccable timing create a beautiful and heartwarming arrangement that is sure to fill listeners’ hearts with the joy and warmth of the season.

Braxton’s interpretation is a standout addition to the repertoire of black artists’ contributions to the Christmas music canon, making it a must-listen for fans of both the genre and the artist alike.


“Winter Wonderland” – Ray Charles

“Winter Wonderland” by Ray Charles is an exquisite piece of art that embraces the essence of the Christmas season. Infused with soulful lyrics and Ray Charles’s hypnotic voice, the song creates a captivating aura that lingers even after it stops playing.

The instrumentals brilliantly blend the sounds of the piano and the brass, which adds a smooth and rich texture to the song’s overall ambiance. A true masterpiece for both the young and the old, it provides a sense of comfort and joy amid the cold winter.