(Photo courtesy of Bethany Cruz)
Christmas Q&A: Bethany Cruz
By Sarah Komisky
Tis the season to play those holiday jams and we’re so excited that our friend, Bethany Cruz stopped by to talk all things Christmas! We hope you had as much fun as we did! Here is a look at our conversation on her EP’s Rejoice! Songs for the Season, Vol. 1 and 2 as well as her favorite throwback holiday album and what it was like to put her own spin on classic holidays songs.
Let’s talk about your music. December is definitely the season to start bringing out the Christmas jams! What was your favorite song to record off your Rejoice EP?
Bethany: Oooo…that’s a tough one. I do have a few favorites. “Oh come Emmanuel” is special to me because it’s a new lyrical take on an old classic and the way the lyrics work together moved me very deeply. My dad got to be a part of the writing, and that made it very special as well. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (ft. Chad Mattson of Unspoken) was another favorite of mine. Chad’s voice is ridiculous and his heart for God and for other people is just mind blowing. It’s always an honor to collaborate with him. “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs to sing, but this recording was extra special because my brother got to be part of it! It’s always been a dream of mine to do music with my brother, so having his guitars accompanying me on that song felt like we were kids again. It felt like home.
Christmas is different with each year and each one can take on new meaning. What has Christmas meant to you this year?
Bethany: This year, Christmas is taking on the meaning of REST for me. This is the first time in many years that I won’t be doing a Christmas tour and I am so excited to be home to celebrate the season with friends and family. Life so often comes with questioning, challenges, and so many unknowns. Christmas is the perfect time for us to focus on and rest in the awe and wonder of what Jesus did. I’m so excited to rest this season and to be fully present enjoying every moment right where I am.
Over the years, there have been so many iconic Christmas alums that have been released. We all have one that we grew up with and was special or one we just loved because of the artist. What was that album (or albums) for you and why?
Bethany: Oh Definitely Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas.” This was the first Christmas album I ever had on repeat. I learned every single word and riff, top to bottom. Every time it plays, I still feel that “Christmassy” feeling I felt when I was a kid!
In this issue, we are talking “unconventional” Christmas – featuring a variety of eclectic ways to celebrate the holidays. You released two Christmas albums (Rejoice! Songs for the Season Volume 1 and 2). As an artist, you are so unique and that’s what we love about you at MM! Recording your own Christmas albums, how did you want to put your own twist on old holiday favorites? And then, what gave inspiration to cover songs like “I’m On My Way To (Canaan Land)” and “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” that are very Gospel in nature and might be new to some listeners?
Bethany: Thank you so much! My heart behind the “Rejoice” albums was to mix it up a little and present the hope and joy of the gospel in a non-traditional way. I was so moved by the powerful lyrics to these timeless Christmas songs, and I wanted to present them completely stripped down from all the bells and sounds we so often associate with the Holiday season. The goal was to make the message stand out in a new way that would catch the ear of the listener and draw their attention to the amazing truths in these songs.
“Sweet little Jesus Boy” is really my prayer of honor and gratitude to Jesus for not only coming to earth, but for saving someone as messed up as me. I honestly cried the entire time I recorded that song. It was such a beautiful moment for me in the studio that I will never forget.
“I’m on my way (to Canaan Land)” straight up inspires me to keep moving and to keep my eyes ahead and fixed on Jesus. I pray that it is an anthem to encourage us all to move out of the past and step boldly with Jesus into the New Year.
To find out more about Bethany and to pick up her holiday EP’s visit www.bethanycruz.com.