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Music Review: Ricky Skaggs – A Skaggs Family Christmas Volume 2

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I was raised in rural South Carolina, and I love A Skaggs Family Christmas Volume 2 because it takes me right back home!

Ricky Skaggs is a 17-time Grammy winner and he is married to the former Sharon White, who with her father Buck and sister Cheryl comprise The Whites, one of the most popular groups in bluegrass and country music. Buck and Cheryl White join Skaggs and his wife on this CD, along with Cheryl’s daughter Rachel Leftwich and the Skaggs’ children, Luke and Molly. Kentucky Thunder, Skaggs’ group, and The Nashville Strings also participate in the CD.

The recording begins with my favorite cut, “Christmas Time’s A-Comin’,” which immediately evokes the joyous anticipation of an old-fashioned country Christmas. Listening to this song should put a smile on your face and get your feet tapping. It is the only song on the CD that does not have a direct religious connotation.

Next is “Light of the Stable,” which beautifully showcases the voices of Sharon White Skaggs and her sister Cheryl, followed by a stunning a cappella version of “The First Noel,” with perfect high and low harmony well worth listening to again and again. “Silent Night” follows, with a lovely accompaniment featuring mandolin and strings.

Ricky’s daughter Molly sings the next song, “What Songs Were Sung,” and her beautiful, pure voice makes it obvious she is ready to carry on the next generation of the Skaggs and White musical legacy. Her brother then proves he has his father’s musical talent by playing his own riveting instrumental composition, “Flight to Egypt.”

Ricky Skaggs then sings lead on the contemporary “Reunion Song,” and also plays guitar and mandolin..

Both Skaggs and the Whites have bluegrass in their veins, and it shows on “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” where Skaggs’ fast fingers and the flawless call-and-response vocals are simply delightful. The children, Luke, Molly and Rachel, then perform their own original arrangement of “O Come, O Come, Emanuel,” with great feeling and emotion, and the disc closes, somewhat surprisingly, with an uplifting, classical intrumental string version of “Joy to the World.”

As a bonus, the CD includes a DVD of the Skaggs family holiday concert recorded in Nashville at the Ryman Auditorium. The family is touring again this year across the country for a series of shows as well.

The Skaggs Family Christmas Vol. 2 is both down-home and polished, and the mix of live and studio recordings give it great balance. All in all, this recording is a true Christmas treasure for any lover of fine harmony, country or bluegrass music.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.