Top 5 of All Time: Black Christmas Songs

This writer bets you won't agree with his picks. Do you?

Whitney Houston (Kevin Mazur/WireImage); Donny Hathaway (Gilles Petard/Redferns);Kanye West (Randy Brooke/WireImage)
Whitney Houston (Kevin Mazur/WireImage); Donny Hathaway (Gilles Petard/Redferns);Kanye West (Randy Brooke/WireImage)

3. “Let It Snow” by Boyz II Men, featuring Brian McKnight

If ever there was a holiday song appropriate to play while conceiving, it would be “Let It Snow” from Boyz II Men’s 1993 holiday album, Christmas Interpretations. As soon as the group and special guest McKnight harmonize their vocals on the first utterance of “snow,” one thing is clear: “Let It Snow” is more than a Christmas song; it’s a bedroom song, just as appropriate for a night of romance in the middle of June as it is in December.

2. “Joy” by Whitney Houston

It is not a traditional holiday album, but Houston’s work on the sound track to the 1996 holiday film The Preacher’s Wife feels like a holiday church party, and “Joy,” her interpretation of the Kirk Franklin classic, is the revival. Houston channels her gospel pedigree to churn out a flawless performance with the Georgia Mass Choir, matching their energy note for note. Houston later released One Wish: The Holiday Album in 2003, but nothing matched her work on “Joy.”

1. “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway

There are holiday songs, and there are holiday standards. Holiday songs come and go, but holiday standards stay, permanently imprinting themselves into the yearly traditions. That’s what Hathaway’s “This Christmas” has done. Thirty years after it made its debut on his self-entitled album, “This Christmas” is arguably the soul man’s most beloved song, becoming as much of a staple in Christmas songbooks as “Jingle Bells.” The evidence lies in the numerous remakes the song has undergone in its short lifetime. And though none touch the original, when any version of “This Christmas” comes on the speakers, people carol along. 

Jozen Cummings is a writer living in Harlem, N.Y. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog,

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