Charles Vestal recorded his first holiday album in 2004.
He was in a band in college and realized he had a number of friends who were also in bands. At the time, the group decided to write a few Christmas songs:
“We just kind of decided it would be fun to write Christmas songs because we loved the existing ones and thought there should be more of them.”
They wanted to do it as part of the season of giving—to create a gift for people. But this gift wouldn’t be a one time thing. As of 2016, Charles has produced 12 years worth of holiday albums, and has no plans to stop any time soon.
“It’s a time that I can force myself to do some songwriting because I don’t usually end up doing it most of the year. It’s also a way for me to re-engage with some people that I don’t keep in close contact with. Plus, there have been some amazing songs and I don’t want to lose those.”
Charles said that he’s done it for so long that he would feel goofy not doing it.
“Part of it is important to me because it’s become a part of my identity. This is a thing that I do and people enjoy the fact that I do it even more than the output. I also think there is a lot of great Christmas music out there, but there haven’t been that many great new songs. So if I can add to that, I think it’s good.”
While Charles frequently refers to “Christmas” music, the truth is that he just uses that as shorthand. The albums are non-denominational and there have been various types of music, from Hanukkah to Kwanzaa songs.
“It’s just a shorthand for the season—because the albums encompass more winter songs than songs about Christmas or Christ. They’re not religious songs.”
But just because the songs are all over the place, doesn’t mean that there aren’t rules…
“Because I was trying to get like 15 people involved and didn’t want everyone singing Jingle Bells, the rule became that you have to write an original song before you can record a song that already exists.”
For anyone who wants to check out all of the songs in their glory, all the albums can be found at http://www.charlesvestal.com. Charles’ favorite album is from 2006 because the variety of people that contributed. His two favorite songs on that album are “House of Xmas” by Duncan and Will and “Comet” by Julie Keehner.
About Charles Vestal: Charles is the head of production at Uncorked Studios. He likes tacos, t-shirts, and tiki things—and his bitmoji is incredible.
More about the Uncorked People Series: The Uncorked People Series features the stories of Uncorked folks and what makes them who they are. It tells the tales of the insatiably curious and multifaceted people that make the company what it is. The blogs are published once a month. Stay tuned for more.