This Christmas 2020

Musical prodigy Justin-Lee Schultz along with his sister and drummer Jaime Leigh Schultz have given this series here at GFM exactly what it needed “This Christmas – a great cover of a composition co-written and performed by the Terra Firma of Grown Folks Music – Donny Hathaway.

A few months back GFM had the privilege to interview(which I will post below) Justin-Lee about his debut recording Gruv Kid that features some of his musical heroes such as Bob James, Harvey Mason, Najee, Jonathan Butler, Gerald Albright, Pieces Of A Dream, Jeff Lorber & others. For lovers of great music Gruv Kid is one for your collection a definite bright musical spot for 2020.

If you are not hip to Justin-Lee Schultz these words from perennial GFM Fave Robert Glasper should tell you all you need to know: “Justin is an older man in a little boys body!! It’s so great to see somebody so young have such a vast love of ALL kinds of music!! And to see his work ethic and his drive is so inspiring! He sounds amazing and he’s only getting better!”

This Christmas 1970

It’s Sunday and you know who we do it around here on the “Cover Me” side of the game we pay homage to the original while serving as a catalyst to make new memories by sharing new versions. But we also have another gift for you as Rhino Records recently premiered an Official Video of Donny’s version to mark the 50th anniversary of the songs’ release.

“This Christmas” was written by Donny Hathaway and Nadine McKinnor and features:

Vocals, keyboard, bass: Donny Hathaway
Electric guitar: Phil Upchurch
Drums: Morris Jennings
Drums, bass drum, congas, sleigh bells: Ric Powell
Baritone saxophone: Willie Henderson
Trombones: Louis Satterfield

That lineup of musicians is a huge part of the magic in this recording. Recorded at Audio Finishers Studio on Ontario Street, Chicago in the fall of 1970, “This Christmas” was not an initial musical success as far as charts are concerned(we really don’t care about charts around here, we care about impact). Percussionist Ric Powell who attended Howard University with Donny Hathaway and was a frequent musical collaborator stated “[Donny]”knew what he wanted to do musically and the impact he wanted to make with this song…” regarding the representation of African Americans in Christmas music. The song charted once in 1972 on a special Billboard chart devoted to Christmas Singles.

But we’re talking impact here and on the impact side of the game? The numerous covers over the years, the inspiration for a Christmas Movie, the fact that for many persons and families that it doesn’t feel like Christmas until you here “This Christmas” from Donny Hathaway. Now you can add the new memory of Justin-Lee Schultz with his sister Jaime Leigh Schultz to the mix and make sure that fireside is blazing bright as you listen to this classic Christmas Carol through the night!

Purchase “This Christmas” from Justin-Lee Schultz feat. his sister and drummer Jaime Leigh Schultz

About Justin-Lee Schultz

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa and based in Durham, NC, musical wonder-kid Justin Lee Schultz is the good news you did not even know you needed. He is joy personified. The multi-instrumental wizard who has dazzled audiences on TV shows Harry, Little Big Shots and American’s Most Musical Family, is a prodigy in the fashion of his idols Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock. His talent is exceptional not merely because he is young but also due to his melodic, harmonic and technical maturation. While his peers are learning the latest Tik Tok dances and amassing kills on Fortnite, Justin prefers studio time and woodshedding for hours.

While social distancing has most people jamming at home with their families, Justin has literally been jamming with his musician father and bassist Julius and 16-year-old sister and drummer Jamie-Leigh. “Music brings me joy because I can express myself when I play. I can also get creative when I’m improvising,” shares the amiable, cherub faced and charismatic 13-year old who has aspirations to one day share the stage with Wonder and Herbie Hancock, as well as Bruno Mars, Charlie Puth, Jacob Collier, Cory Henry and Robert Glasper. Justin, who plays piano, guitar, bass guitar and talkbox, devotes five to seven hours each day to his musical craft. With Schultz’s recording debut, Gruv Kid, on the way this Friday Justin has high hopes. “The ultimate dream is to win or even get nominated for a Grammy!” he exclaims. “I also hope that I can give people joy and happiness when they listen to my music!”