Originally composed in the 1840’s with the French language title “Cantique de Noel,” “O Holy Night” is has become one of the Western world’s most iconic Christmas carols, its words powerfully conveying the concept of the birth of Jesus serving as mankind’s redemption.
Because its message is considered sacred, most pop singers who have recorded it over the years – including Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Martina McBride and Lauren Daigle, all of whom charted with their versions – have approached it as a solemn ballad with a lilting flow that then swells towards a crescendo.
Immense kudos, then, to the wondrously adventurous husband and wife tandem of guitarist Alan Schulman and vocalist Stacey Schulman – collectively known as As Is - who boldly re-imagine it as a soulful, playful and delightfully infectious samba. It’s a unique and refreshing reimagining, taking us on an irresistible journey driven by driven by the unbeatable combination of her sultry voice and imaginative phrasing, his crisp and snappy electric harmonies and the hypnotic grooves and dynamic shuffling energy of Brazilian born Lucini brothers, Leonardo (bass) and Alejandro (percussion).
As inspiring as the main song is, the best part is the lengthy improvisational outro, which finds Stacey repeating “Oh night divine” at alternating high and low levels, then scatting over Alan’s colorful string accents and the whimsical percussive sonics of the rhythm section.
For secular people, this version by As Is can serve as a way into a song they might usually think of as overtly religious. For the faithful, it’s a lively celebration of the timeless story of the Savior’s birth that blissfully takes it out of the confines of cathedrals and churches and into the equally sacred rhythms of life