Sammy Kershaw Shares Cajun Culture With New ‘A Sammy Klaus Christmas’ Album
It's been 18 years between Christmas albums for Sammy Kershaw, but the singer says despite personal and professional ups and downs, the meaning of the holiday hasn't changed one bit. On 'A Sammy Klaus Christmas' he says he was looking to simplify -- to create a collection of songs that kids could enjoy in the way he enjoyed the holidays during his childhood.
"Christmas all of my life has been about Christ, period," Kershaw told Taste of Country while traveling from his hometown of Lafayette, La. to New Orleans. Much like he did on 'Christmas Time's A-Comin'' in 1994, the 'She Don't Know She's Beautiful' singer sticks to the classics. This time that includes 'Jingle Bells,' 'Silent Night' and a bluesy version of 'Santa Claus Is Back in Town.' His new songs were cut in a single summer afternoon.
"I just wanted it to feel like a children's Christmas album," Kershaw explains. "I wanted kids to feel good when they heard it. I didn't want this big old production, symphonies and all that stuff." Indeed, tracks like 'The 12 Days of Christmas' and 'Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!' are as scaled back as far as one will find on a modern record. ''Twas the Night Before Christmas' features Kershaw alone, reading the story like a grandfather would to his grandkids.
He chose that direction after considering his boyhood Christmases, during a time he calls the "greatest of all times." There would be weeks of unbearable curiosity and wonderment as children guessed what presents were wrapped under the tree. Each gift was cherished.
"There's not a whole lot of that anymore and I'm just as guilty of it as anybody," Kershaw says, meaning that even though he's more likely to give money these days, that hasn't stunted his generosity. "I'm a giver. I love to give. Hell I've given away a couple of fortunes already!"
Kershaw's patter features the echos of a Cajun accent that gets thicker as he becomes more animated. He's proud of his heritage, and revels in sharing a bit of the culture with anyone who picks up 'A Sammy Klaus Christmas.' A Cajun version of ''Twas the Night Before Christmas' closes the album, providing the most unique moment of the set. A few may need a translation, but it's done in good fun. Kershaw says he was careful not to lay it on too thick as to offend someone, although he admits he'll find himself turning it on real thick at times.
"Maybe every once in awhile if I go way in the back there, you know," he admits. "If I go hunting way back in the marsh or something, you know it might come out a little bit."
Food is as much of the Cajun Christmas celebration as gifts," Kershaw adds. He expects his dinner table to be loaded with fried turkey, bread pudding, rice dressing and fruit salads this Christmas. "The Cajun folks, we have the best food in the world as far as I'm concerned, hands down. And I don't even wanna argue with anybody about it 'cause there's no argument."