I’m only 30 but when I think of classic Christmas soul music, I don’t think of Boyz II Men or Mariah Carey, like many of my counterparts do. I think of Otis Redding and James Brown. Now don’t get me wrong, they have Christmas classics, but when I am looking for that bottom of the gut, soul churning Christmas music. I skip most of the 1990s.

The other day I was listening to my Christmas playlist in my office and a co-worker asked, “what do you know about that?” I quipped, “a lot”.

Since I was a kid, my family has been playing the same Christmas cassette tape. It has a small white piece of half peeled tape on it, that reads “Christma ongs”. It was dubbed by an aunt or cousin but despite moves and life changes, this cassette has lasted. The songs are the soundtrack of such special memories.

I’m not walking around with a Walkman, so I have now pulled the playlist together on a streaming service and here is the list:

Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas – Carla Thomas 

Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter 

Santa Goes Straight To The Ghetto – James Brown

Christmas Ain’t Christmas – Bobby Womack 

Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year- James Brown 

Presents For Christmas – Solomon Burke 

All I Want For Christmas Is You – Carla Thomas

May Christmas Bring You Happiness – Luther Vandross

White Christmas – Otis Redding 

Please Come Home For Christmas – Charles Brown 

Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday – William Bell 

This Christmas – Donny Hathaway 

Silent Night – The Temptations 

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Jackson 5

One Little Christmas Tree- Stevie Wonder 

What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas – Emotions 

Happy Holidays To You – The Whispers 

Merry Christmas Baby – Otis Redding 

For my family, this is the quintessential Christmas soul playlist. When it cranks up, I know we’re ready to cook, eat, or play a game of spades.

What’s on your family playlist? Let us know in the comments!