Eight Great Holiday Recordings by Merrimack Valley Musicians
For many, the holiday season means spending time with family — decorating the home, drinking hot chocolate, watching seasonal movies and listening to festive music. Here are some of the best holiday recordings from famous Merrimack Valley musicians.
ONE: The late Robert Goulet was born and raised in Lawrence, and both of his parents worked in the mills. Goulet rose to stardom in the late 1950s, first appearing in cinema and then becoming a popular singer. In 1963, Goulet put out “This Christmas I Spend With You,” an album that includes traditional standards. Goulet’s rich bass tone adds his own twist to holiday classics.
TWO: Well-known actor Adam Sandler was raised in Manchester, N.H., and achieved prominence on the TV show Saturday Night Live. Sandler is Jewish, and he felt there weren’t enough Hanukkah songs for children to enjoy, so he co-wrote of his own. “The Chanukah Song” was meant to be funny, but some of the lyrics were later changed as the song began to make annual appearances on the Billboard Hot 100.
THREE: Born the youngest child of Lebanese immigrant parents, Rosalind Elias was raised in Lowell. She enjoyed listening to and attending the opera. In 2010, the mezzo-soprano released a collaboration Christmas album with Giorgio Tozzi. “Christmas with Giorgio Tozzi” features Elias on every track. This album might be great for an elegant Christmas party. Her music may sound particularly poignant this year — Elias passed away in May at the age of 90.
FOUR: Born and raised in Lowell, guitarist Gary Hoey spent much of his time around Berklee College of Music hoping to network. His well-received “Ho! Ho! Hoey” series of Christmas CDs has become popular among area radio stations during the holiday season. The series includes three studio albums, a fourth recorded live in Lowell, and a greatest hits collection, “The Best of Ho! Ho! Hoey.” Fun fact: Hallmark’s musical greeting cards feature two of Hoey’s “Ho! Ho! Hoey” classics.
FIVE: The late Marty Manning was a famous violinist from Haverhill. Although he wasn’t a singer, he helped compose many songs for major artists, working closely with record labels and producers. Manning assisted The Ames Brothers with two singles on their holiday album “Christmas Harmony.” Manning and his orchestra are credited with the quartet on “Ting-A-Ling-A Jingle” and “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.”
SIX: Crooner Brian Evans is a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to being a musician, he is well known in politics and television. Growing up in Haverhill, Evans was raised by his mother and grandmother before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. In May 2020, Evans released a short holiday EP titled “A Few Songs for Christmas,” which features covers of four classic songs.
SEVEN: Gabriel Bello was born in Lawrence to Dominican immigrant parents and later moved to Florida, where he discovered his musical talents. He is both a jazz singer and a saxophonist. In November 2019, Bello released “Happy Holiday,” which includes original compositions and twists on classic songs. It also features songs with Spanish verses, and some soothing instrumentals.
EIGHT: Lead guitarist and one of the founding members of the Boston-based band Aerosmith, Joe Perry was born in Lawrence and later relocated to Hopedale, Massachusetts. Perry always wanted to release a holiday album with Aerosmith, but the other band members did not. So in December 2014, Perry released “Joe Perry’s Merry Christmas.” The album is short, but it includes holiday classics as rock songs.