Sabrina Claudio's Christmas Album is the Best Gift This Holiday Season

Sabrina Claudio's Christmas Album is the Best Gift This Holiday Season

Sabrina Claudio's Christmas Album is the Best Gift This Holiday Season

The RnB songstress talks about the holidays, traditions and her "Christmas Blues" album dropping November 27.

The RnB songstress talks about the holidays, traditions and her "Christmas Blues" album dropping November 27.

Text: Trishna Rikhy

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart…but this year, we’re all getting a gift even more precious, passionate and coveted—a Christmas album by Sabrina Claudio, Miami-born R&B powerhouse and soulful chart-topping songstress.


Christmas Blues is a culmination of the holiday spirit—festivity, cheers, love and merriment—in Claudio’s signature sultry, evocative sound. Dropping on November 27, the album features covers of three holiday classics alongside five of Claudio’s original Christmas songs, with features from The Weeknd and Alicia Keys.

“[Christmas] is definitely my favorite holiday, just because of the emotion that comes with Christmas,” said Claudio. “You know, being with family and the giving and all that. But Christmas is probably my new super favorite because of now what it means every year with this album. It’s going to come back every year and so it’s going to be even more exciting from now on.”


The excitement of Christmas typically presents itself like a perfectly-wrapped gift with just the right bow on top under the tree—there are twinkling lights, familial laughter, and if you were really good this year, Santa may have even got you just what you wished for. But Christmas Blues proves that sometimes, the very best things you could receive on Christmas are presents you may not have considered putting on your list at all—presents that may not have even existed themselves, if not for just the right catalyst.


“Nothing was planned at all,” said Claudio of the album. “The process was just going with the flow.”


The 24-year-old singer had a very different 2020 planned out, before the pandemic hit: one that consisted of new music releases, a tour, in-person meetings and performances. A Christmas album wasn’t initially on her holiday list, until one of her managers mentioned that she should try her hand at writing a Christmas song—thus came the song that would hold the album’s namesake, “Christmas Blues.”


“The process was just going with the flow,” she said. “Initially, it was just supposed to be one song. It was just fun—I’ve never experienced anything having to do with holiday writing, and it was just so fun to do. And after ‘Christmas Blues,’ we just wanted to get back in and see if we could beat [it], but we ended up loving everything that we wrote and we came up with a whole album, and then everything else just kind of followed the album, in terms of the videos and pictures and features.


“It just happened the way it was supposed to,” she added. “There was no pressure behind it, no force, no nothing. And so I think that’s what makes it so special and it feels so good.”


The first single from the album, “Warm December,” dropped last week and is reminiscent of what Claudio speaks of: a Christmas that is special, a sound that feels good, a song that touches on a more intimate, romantic side of the holiday season.

It is in “Warm December” that we get to see the fusion between Claudio’s alluring, transfixing sound and the lyrics of love and passion typical of Christmas festivities. In the music video, Claudio steps into the character of a classy, vintage pin-up star—there is no snowfall, no jolly old man with a white beard, no reindeer motifs, yet it is still, indisputably, a classic Christmas song for the modern and mature merrymaker.


“Everything that I do, it just has the sultry vibe behind it,” said Claudio. “And [‘Warm December’] just gave me that vintage, retro kind of feel. When I spoke with the directors, because I shot with them before, they had heard the song when we were going back and forth on ideas. And they mentioned—I was really inspired by this showgirl show that happens in France, in Paris. If I’m not mistaken, it’s called Crazy Horse, which is so cute. They’re actually adorable, so it was inspired by that.”


The Crazy Horse girls of Paris bring to the table some similarities to Claudio—the appeal of the performer, the long-legged dancers in flawless costumes, bringing you into a transformative world that is created through their narrative. “Warm December,” the “sexier song of the album” as Claudio refers to it, does the same with its golden, glossy, glamorous music video with the Old Hollywood vibe.


“[The video] represents the song perfectly,” said Claudio. “It just has a fantasy. It’s a fantasy about what I imagine—I mean, obviously, this is extreme. I probably wouldn’t do this in my house or dress like this in my house, but I’m saying, this is the extreme fantasy of what the song is about. You know, it’s about a relationship, it’s about a sexy Christmas. and this is what you do for your partner and how you would make him or her feel, you know?”

Alongside “Warm December” and “Christmas Blues,” the album consists of three more original songs and three covers: “The Christmas Song,” “O Holy Night” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” perfectly wrapped in Sabrina’s bluesy, emotional sound (“That’s why we named it Christmas Blues, because you’re in your feelings the whole album, which is my vibe. I like to put people in their feelings.”)


The three cover songs are Christmas classics that Sabrina grew up with, nostalgic favorites that have carried her through holiday seasons since childhood. 


“I used to be in choir when I was in high school,” she reminisced. “And for Christmas, we would always do Christmas competitions or charity events. And it was my favorite time of year for the choir, and ‘O Holy Night’ was always the one song that we sang and I always got so emotional singing it. I’m not even sure why, it’s just parts of the melody. Like, you know, when it hits you, it hits you.”


The association between holiday songs and upbeat, cheery music is a common one, but not necessarily what Christmas Blues brings to the table. After all, Claudio’s music is often just as mournful as it is passionate—looking at past loves or unrequited ones, the steady, burning flame instead of explosive, temporary fireworks.

“I didn’t want to do anything that was too joyous, or, you know, happy,” she said. “I’m not the happiest when it comes to my music. So those [covers] just fit perfectly. And I’m actually so proud that we did those because I think they sound great.”

If you’ve heard Claudio’s music before, you might wonder how the Christmas spirit fits into her sound. After all, her style is typically deep and intimate, more prone to lyrics and melodies about love and romance rather than yuletides and roasting chestnuts. Yet the artist put her own R&B spin on the holiday classics, making them truly her own.


“There’s such a theme when it comes to Christmas, and we’re so used to hearing that theme over and over in different ways with the classic Christmas songs,” she said. “I mean, it’s beautiful, and I love Christmas music. I’m one of those crazy freaks that listens to it the day after Halloween, like I’m in it already. So I grew up listening to Christmas music, but I never put myself in that position of what it would be like to write something, especially an original.”


The process of writing the Christmas songs featured on the album came surprisingly easy to Claudio, who worked with her songwriter Nasri and collaborated on holiday-inspired ideas.


“It was easy because I was with him,” she admitted. “If I was by myself, it probably would have been a lot more difficult, but it was fun. We just had fun with it. I wasn’t even afraid to get cheesy if we got cheesy—I don’t think we got cheesy, but if we did, whatever. It’s Christmas!”


The eight tracks of Christmas Blues, while adhering to the holiday theme, still incorporate Claudio’s “signature sound with Christmas lyrics.” Like the rest of Claudio’s music, you can listen to it year round (or whenever you feel like being in your feelings, really) because they’re not so specific to the emotions of Christmas, the spirit of celebration and the once-a-year merriment that comes along with it, but still retains the sentiment of the holiday.


“‘Warm December,’ for example, if you replace the Christmas lyrics with something else about love, it’s an R&B song, you know what I mean?” said Claudio. “It’s a fusion between what I originally do and the festive holiday.”

The union of Claudio’s classic R&B sound and Christmas classics isn’t the only major fusion of Christmas Blues, however. The album includes features with The Weeknd and Alicia Keys, fellow powerhouses of their genres who lend their voices to Claudio’s project. Everything came together perfectly, organically, with no pressure behind it—a Christmas miracle, if you will, a project embodying what the giving-and-sharing holiday spirit is all about.


“It just ended up being the perfect thing,” said Claudio. There were good intentions by everyone on her team, everyone surrounding her—even The Weeknd jumped on the album after reaching out to her, as he’s always wanted to do something for Christmas, and the track “Christmas Blues” lended the perfect opportunity.


And so although it may not be under your tree this year in a red-and-gold tinsel package with a perfectly-tied bow on top, Sabrina Claudio’s Christmas Blues album might just be your favorite Christmas present this year. And as with all great gifts, it is one that keeps on giving (and giving, and giving, and giving, depending on how many times you can hit the “play again” button). 


“I just want everyone to know that my intention behind writing this album was to bring any type or amount of calmness or nostalgia or happiness for this insane year that we’ve had,” said Claudio. “I hope it just brings some sort of smile to someone’s face, even if it’s for the length of a song.”


Stream “Warm December now and Christmas Blues on all platforms on November 27.


Credits: Photos by Prince Chenoa and Jacob Dekat


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