JJ Heller

From JJ Heller

JJ Heller


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For Fans Of

Patty Griffin, The Weepies, Sarah McLachlan, Ingrid Michaelson, Natalie Merchant

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From JJ Heller


When Christmas comes around each year and I hear the jazzy sounds of The Vince Guaraldi Trio playing "A Charlie Brown Christmas," or Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas," I'm somehow transported to another place. I hear just a few notes of these familiar tunes, and somehow I'm six again opening stockings with my family, or driving around my neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. This music; these memories fill me with nostalgia. These are the feelings I wanted to capture when I set out to make my own Christmas album, "Unto Us."

When I was a little girl, my family listened to the same vinyl record by the artist Evie each time we decorated the tree. We also had a tradition of pulling my grandparents' Christmas tree to the middle of the room, and then all my cousins and I danced around it to a polka record. It’s hard for me to think of a Christmas memory that doesn't involve music. I love that my music can now be a part of someone else's Christmas playlist! This Christmas season, I'm thrilled to share the thirteen tracks on "Unto Us" with you. My dream is for this album to become your soundtrack to countless family Christmas memories for years to come.

While researching other Christmas records, I was repeatedly drawn to the familiar old classics. Because there's so much familiarity and tradition surrounding Christmas, I knew I needed to create tracks that felt like they always existed and "Unto Us" is stuffed like a stocking full of songs that you already know and love. My husband, Dave, and I also referenced the production of some albums that are consistently played in our home during Christmastime. We love the treatment of Sarah McLachlan's vocal on her heartbreaking Christmas album, "Wintersong". There is also something very special about the beautiful orchestral and boys' choir arrangements on Amy Grant's "Home For Christmas", so we made sure to include a children's choir on many of our songs too. They sound heavenly!

The making of "Unto Us" was a substantial undertaking. Over 2,000 of my fans collectively contributed over $80,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to make it a reality. Their generosity allowed me to work with renowned producer, Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman), and my good friend, Ben Shive (MercyMe, Dave Barnes). Even though my expectations for this album were very high, Brown and Ben somehow managed to exceed them. When it came time to listen to the final versions of the songs, I confess the music brought me to tears at several different moments.

I spent nearly a year making Unto Us, and the thought of people finally experiencing it made me giddy with anticipation. As I imagined listeners hearing these songs for the first time, I was overwhelmed with emotion. This Christmas gift is sitting under the tree and is finally ready to be unwrapped! As you gather around your tree with your loved ones to celebrate the birth of Christ this year, I hope this music creates a backdrop for you to express the love and joy that comes with the season. From my heart to yours, I wish you a very merry Christmas.