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Nov 25, 2014

Anthony Hamilton Shares Christmas Cheer Through Music

November 25, 2014

Donna Isbell Walker, [email protected] 11:40 a.m. EST November 24, 2014

R&B singer Anthony Hamilton is a big fan of Christmas, so recording a holiday album just seemed like a natural fit.

The new disc, "Home for the Holidays," blends familiar Christmas songs such as "Little Drummer Boy" with less-pervasive tunes like James Brown's "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto."

And Hamilton comes to the Peace Center Dec. 2 with a concert that celebrates the season, and also looks back at some of his biggest hits.

"Everybody loves Christmas, even me," said Hamilton, chatting over the phone from his hometown of Charlotte. "And coming up, it was something that you looked forward to. And being a musician, I think the two loves had to come together."

He chose the songs for the album based on what he wanted to sing, and Hamilton said he tried to stay away from some of the most heavily played Christmas tunes. The album has guest appearances by pop-rocker Gavin DeGraw, soul diva Chaka Khan and singer-songwriter ZZ Ward.

Hamilton put his own spin on the songs, and it's safe to say that his take on "Away in a Manger" is not your Sunday school teacher's Christmas carol.

"Away in a Manger" takes a bluesy, funky look at the gentle children's song, but that wasn't the original intention, Hamilton said.

"We were down in Huntsville, Alabama, and we were just noodling around with the guitar — Kelvin Wooten, the producer, and myself and the guitar player — and he just started playing it, and I started singing it, and it was like, 'Wow, this is probably where we need to be.' And we did it, and it came out bluesy. Pretty much, we stumbled upon it."

Performing in Greenville feels a little like a hometown show, thanks to its proximity to Charlotte, he said.

"Anything around these parts is home for me," Hamilton said.

And sharing the Christmas season with fans as well as family is a nice feeling, Hamilton said.

"I love the fact that no matter how most people are all year, at this time of year they tend to soften themselves up," he said. "They want to feel that love and family and sense of beauty that Christmas brings, and everybody surrenders to it. I like that."