Jesus Culture's Kim Walker-Smith is set to release her first Christmas album "When Christmas Comes" on November 4. Produced by Jeremy Edwardson (Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe, Jesus Culture), this is only her second studio album. Other than collaborating with her husband, Skyler, on the couple's folk/Americana flavored effort Home, Kim has recorded all of her albums to date live. "The reason I always record live is because we're trying to capture a moment in worship, but with this...it's a little bit different," the multi-Dove Award nominee explains. "We're making something fun and creative, but an album that still carries my heart in worship. I wanted a mixture of both-songs that could show my heart of worship and songs that are just fun and a part of Christmas, a part of magical childhood memories."
The studio environment provided a safe place for Kim to experiment and broaden her creative palette. "When you're recording in the studio, you don't have to capture everything in one moment. When I'm leading worship, I'm not really branching out or experimenting vocally because I'm singing a melody I want people to sing along with me," she observes. "With a Christmas album, people are going to sing along no matter what because everyone knows the songs... So, I could try a lot of different ways of singing it, which I don't get to do live, making it fun creatively."
When Christmas Comes boasts well-known classics and respected carols side-by-side, and one original, "Tell Me the Story," written by Anthony Skinner. All 17 tracks reflect vivid memories for Kim, who grew up in a small farming town where a group of senior citizens hosted a Christmas event each year for the families in their community. Kim recalls the excitement she and her siblings experienced anticipating the annual party, which included breakfast with Santa, caroling and a "gift shop" where she could choose gifts for her family. "It made you feel so grown up and special," she remembers. "We couldn't wait for all our family members to open our presents and see what we picked out for them."
Cuts like "Let It Snow," "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" and "White Christmas" are a departure for the singer, best-known for powerhouse worship anthems. Yet, longtime fans will love hearing Kim's unforgettable voice paired with these timeless classics, melded together for something altogether new-each cut a snapshot of holidays passed.
Kim's nostalgic take on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a personal favorite of the singer's. As a four-year-old Kim found herself as the lead in a Christmas musical, serving in the role of a granddaughter. On the night of the final performance, her pretend "grandmother" gave her a reindeer that she still uses each year when decorating her home. "To this day, I still have the little reindeer and pull it out every year at Christmas," she shares. "It was so special to me because at that time as a little kid, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' was my favorite Christmas special that came on TV every year... I thought it was so neat, like, How did she know that was my favorite?"
I know that at the core of who I am, I am a worship leader. I am someone who loves Jesus and loves to adore and worship Jesus. So, no matter what I do, that just comes out of me naturally," Kim says. "It comes out in these songs celebrating the whole reason for Christmas-it's Jesus, that He came to change our lives and set us free. The message of the gospel is the whole theme of Christmas and why we celebrate and what makes it so wonderful."
For Kim, Christmas has always been about family. "I don't have a single Christmas memory that my family isn't all together," she adds. "No matter what kind of hardship we may have been going through, we were all together for Christmas." This Christmas will be especially significant for Kim as she and Skyler welcome their second child into the world. Her due date, ironically, is Christmas Day. "It's so funny. Being a parent just changes Christmas for you," Kim says. "It makes it even more exciting."
She hopes When Christmas Comes will provide a soundtrack for families all around the world celebrating Christ's birth. "I hope people have fun with the album," she says. "I hope it becomes part of their rotation at Christmastime and they pull it out every year."