How the COVID-19 Pandemic Inspired Leslie Odom Jr. to Do Another Holiday Album
Leslie Odom Jr. wasn't planning to make another holiday album. He was in the middle of a tour for his first album of original songs, Mr, which was released in November 2019. "I was on the road, and it was all geared up for my first tour bus," he told POPSUGAR. "We were going to be sleeping on the bus, and I was really excited about the experience, and we did two shows — we did LA and Las Vegas — and then, you know, COVID happened and we got cancelled."
"I was trying to imagine what people might be in need of at the end of this really difficult year."
He didn't want to lose the momentum, so the idea of doing a Christmas album, which is quite clearly titled The Christmas Album, was "part of a pivot." "We essentially just took the energy that we were going to put into the tour — because touring is a great way to learn about who you are as an artist and to learn about the music as you perform it in front of audiences — and we put it into another creative project," he said. "I was trying to imagine what people might be in need of at the end of this really difficult year."
Odom added that he doesn't brush off his holiday albums — this one is his second, having released Simply Christmas in 2016 — or consider them less important work than his other musical contributions. "If you can believe it, the thing that I hear about most in my career, after Hamilton of course, is my first Christmas album," he said. "We know that it's something that people enjoy to hear from me, and so we tried to make something that people might like as much."
He promised that his new 10-track album feels "more joyful" and includes his first attempts at original songs — "Snow" and "Winter Song" — as well as a duet with his wife, Nicolette Robinson, on a traditional Hanukkah song, "Ma'oz Tzur," in honour of her Jewish heritage. "I know that it's in the marketplace and being sold," he said, "but I hope this album will feel like a gift to people."
Keep scrolling to hear Odom's original songs off The Christmas Album.