I have full and abiding respect for all of you who simply tolerate Christmas songs or find them hellish relics of a commercialized trash fire holiday. But, for the rest of you twinkling, glitterbombed carolers, I present my favorite songs of yuletide joy by folx in or from the South. Now, let’s get started because this is a longer list than usual. I love Christmas so much, y’all.
Texas: Tish Hinojosa, “From Texas for a Christmas Night”
San Antonio-native Hinojosa is a first generation Mexican American who performs both traditional Mexican folk songs and her own original work. This one is all hers.
Georgia: Cat Power, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
This comes close to Judy Garland perfection.
Mississippi: Tammy Wynette, “(Merry Christmas) We Must Be Having One”
North Carolina: Nina Simone, “Little Girl Blue”
I am trying to break your heart – Christmas-style. Also, FINALLY, am I right? Nina Simone should’ve long been in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Florida: Ariana Grande, “Winter Things”
Ariana Grande and I are the exact same person regarding winter.
Alabama: Emmylou Harris, “Christmas Time’s A-Coming”
Here’s your Christmas hug.
Texas: Kacey Musgraves, “Mele Kalikimaka”
From her 2016 Christmas album that’s really worth a listen.
North Carolina: Fantasia, “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”
A faithful cover of a James Brown holiday classic.
Louisiana: Maddy & Her Calypso Friends, “Seven Skeletons Found in the Yard”
This is what qualifies as Christmas music in New Orleans, and I am here for it.
Tennessee: Dolly Parton, “Hard Candy Christmas”
Only a monster would forget Dolly.
Florida: Whiskey Wasps, “Morning Snow”
An indie folk ballad to melt your frozen heart from a West Palm Beach duo – who clearly don’t get many white Christmas days.
Kentucky: Loretta Lynn, “White Christmas Blue”
Likely the only woman on this list who would outright reject the feminist label today, though she wrote some treasured anthems. Anyway, this one pulls hard on my heart strings.
Arkansas: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “I Saw the Light”
This one just feels right. And another long overdue addition to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year.
Texas: Destiny’s Child, “8 Days of Christmas”
Star-powered take on a Christmas classic.
Tennessee: Miley Cyrus, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
Look at young Miley!
Louisiana: Big Freedia, “Rudy, the Big Booty Reindeer”
Big Freedia’s Christmas album melts my brain.
Texas: Pentatonix, “Let It Go”
How do you follow Big Freedia? I guess with a bizarre Disney musical number.
Florida: Fifth Harmony, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”
This song will either delight you or give you a trill-induced headache.
Georgia: powerkompany, “I’m Sorry about Last Christmas”
Some pop-infused drama from Athens-based electronica band, powerkompany.
Texas: Kelly Clarkson, “Christmas Eve”
Here’s Ms. Clarkson singing for Cracker Barrel.
Georgia: TLC, “Sleigh Ride”
This one is bittersweet.
Florida: The Pauses, “Christmas Time Is Here”
And a Peanuts cover from an Orlando electronic indie rock group.