Gospel’s balladeer Earnest Pugh to release his first Christmas CD

Over the last half dozen years, Earnest Pugh has established himself as Gospel Music’s Leading Man with soul stirring, #1 radio smashes such as “Rain on Us” and “I Need Your Glory” that also hit the Adult R&B Airplay charts. Now, he’s joining the ranks of Johnny Mathis, Mahalia Jackson and Nat “King” Cole by creating a holiday album, “Christmas with Earnest Pugh & Friends” (EPM Music Group/$15.98 MSRP), due in stores on Oct. 16 that is sure to become an annual yuletide listening treat.

The 14-track set marks Pugh’s first time sitting in the producer’s chair and he shares the mic with some of his best and most talented friends in the music biz. The initial radio single, “Ring Dem Bells”, a rousing mid-tempo ballad features impassioned backing vocals by Charles Butler & Trinity. A soulful “Silent Night” features the smooth tenor of Quadrius Salters. Baritone Keith Williams joins Pugh on “Holy 2 U” while powerhouse soprano Chrystal Rucker does a majestic rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” with a simple piano arrangement. Lisa Knowles of the Brown Sisters and Pugh trade adlibs on a churchy rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Vincent Tharpe & Kenois create a warm and cozy groove on “Go Tell It” while newcomer Martha Buries brings a jazzy vibe to Ann McCrary’s “Remember Not 2 Forget”. Veteran vocalist Nikki Ross sits us down on the front pew of a Sunday morning church service to deliver a dramatic version of  “Walk in the Light”.

Christmas music has always been a staple In Pugh’s home.

“With very little money and 12 kids – music was all we had when I was growing up,” he says in a news release. “Our household was filled with love, music and good food during the holidays. This CD is near and dear to my heart because it was one of the final requests that my mother made just prior to passing away on New Year’s Eve 2006, that I make a Christmas CD. The concept of the CD catches me interacting with some kids during a choir rehearsal to prepare them to go caroling throughout the neighborhood.”

There are plans in the works for a 10-city Christmas with Earnest Pugh Tour that would also feature EPM Music Group artists such as Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis, Chrystal Rucker and Keith Williams. For more info on EPM and its various projects, go to www.epmmusicgroup.com.

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