“Just Like Christmas Before”
Even as he’s now recording under his freshly minted moniker and multi-genre fusion concept Classic Twist, there’s no mistaking the stunning, emotionally impactful vocals of famed R&B/jazz singer/songwriter Gene-O on his dynamic new holiday single “Just Like Christmas Before.”
The highly anticipated follow-up to Classic Twist’s uplifting call-to-action anthem “Time for Change” – which, true to the singer’s bold vision, incorporated elements of pop, R&B, country and rock – the song is a classic-styled soul ballad about an exciting, heart-pounding reunion with loved ones after a long time apart, a true celebration of love during troubled times, and a spirit-filled commitment to recapturing the joyful fun of past seasons when Christmas was at its most magical.
Over lush strings and dramatic piano chords, building to a gospel-flavored crescendo with Gene-O’s voice growing ever more powerful, “Just Like Christmas Before” reminds us of so many of the things that make the holidays special, especially when we’re sharing it with friends and family – picking a tree, hanging the lights, playing in the snow in the cold, blowing wind and watching “the stars putting on a show.” The singer also includes beautiful, romantic and deeply spiritual lyrics: “I’ll be standing by the mistletoe waiting for the love that I have missed,” “Our love will keep us warm/Just like on Christmas/Like it was before” and “Never believed in miracles/But now I know/You’re sharing Christmas with me.”
Longtime Gene-O fans might remember that the singer successfully released “Just Like Christmas Before” few years ago under his original artist name. The Classic Twist version takes the production to a whole new “soundtrack” level with freshly recorded background vocal elements, a remix by Grammy winning engineer Tim Craven and re-mastering by Grammy winner Dave Donnelly (who recently mastered the music for the TV series Yellowstone).
“This is my Christmas gift to the world, making me think of the excitement of opening a new package as a kid on Christmas morning,” says Gene-O. “It’s a love song that still touches me the same way now as when I first wrote it, and it’s wonderful to hear it now with fuller vocals and a more robust sound. I originally wrote it with military families in mind, thinking of those servicemen who are able to come home and spend time with their families between deployments or after many months or years away. I was inspired by images of servicemen and women hugging their spouses and kids after so long away.
“But then I realized how much bigger the message was,” he adds, “that the song really captures the emotion of anyone who can spend Christmas with loved ones after a long time apart. It makes us think of not only the loved ones we cherish and reunite with, but also those who are no longer with us – a reminder of simpler times when we created our best ever Christmas memories. Because of all the inspiration behind it, and the idea of bringing people together, ‘Just Like Christmas Before’ is one of the most meaningful and emotional songs I have ever written.That’s always been my goal as a songwriter – to write songs that could touch people’s hearts, even for just a few moments.”
As Gene-O gears up to release more Classic Twist songs in the future, he is about to drop the long-awaited video for “Time For Change,” which acknowledges, as he says, “the black and white doldrums of the dark and violent things happening on our planet, but says no more to telling only those stories. Because there is also a tremendous amount of good and amazing people working towards changing the world for the better.”
“I recorded ‘Time For Change’ as the first Classic Twist single because globally we desperately need to effect major change,” says Gene-O, whose most recent solo albums were the back-to-back releases of Born to Love and Christmas with Gene-O. Having spent years performing around the world (China, Japan and the EU) and the U.S., the singer started his career recording and performing with such artists as Baby Bash, N2Deep, The Jets, Maserati, and Sheila E to name a few. Once designated as Best New Artist of the Month by Talking Smooth Jazz Radio – more recently he has shared the stage with the likes of Brian O’Neal (The Bus Boys), Howard Hewitt, Eric Darius, Dru Hill, Lenny Williams (Tower of Power), Joe, and his mentors, Phil Perry and the late great Ricky Lawson.
“Our world is so crazy right now on so many levels,” he adds. “I had the message in my mind and I felt it was something we needed to do together. Every time I turn on the TV or listen to the radio, they’re talking about more division. The song, like all of the music I’m creating as Classic Twist, reflects the way I choose to live, just loving people. Love and unity form the concept of everything I’m going to do on this project. ‘Just Like Christmas Before’ is the holiday themed extension of this, paving the way for more amazing music in 2024.”
Gene-O plans to put out several more original singles before releasing an EP or full-length album comprised of new compositions and explosive re-imaginings of classic rock tunes. One of these is the whimsical, high-energy country-soul-rocker “Changin’,” a lighthearted song along a similar theme about going out and having some fun. The other is “You’re My Hero,” an inspiring, R&B/gospel flavored tribute to the love of hard-working, self-sacrificing women everywhere that was picked up by an international women’s foundation as their new anthem. As for the covers, down the road, Classic Twist is excited about presenting dynamic versions of Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years,” Journey’s “Faithfully” and Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind.”
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