Craft Recordings is delighted to announce the debut vinyl release of Natalie Cole’s bestselling, 1994 holiday album, Holly & Ivy. Set for an November 8th release date, Holly & Ivy has been remastered by George Horn and Anne-Marie Suenram at Fantasy Studios and pressed on 180-gram vinylat RTI. A CD reissue will be released on the same day. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the acclaimed album—which was the first of several holiday outings in Cole’s career.
Cole was inspired to record Holly & Ivy after a call from longtime friend and prolific songwriter Michael Masser. Collaborating with the legendary lyricist Gerry Goffin, Masser had written an original holiday song entitled “No More Blue Christmas’” with the singer in mind. From there, Cole decided to make an entire album of Christmas music, following in the footsteps of her father—singer Nat King Cole—whose LP, The Magic of Christmas,was the top-selling holiday title of the 1960s, and whose rendition of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” is one of the most famous yuletide recordings in history.
Co-Produced by Tommy LiPuma, Holly & Ivyoffers an R&B twist on holiday favorites and features several songs which Cole’s father had made popular decades before, including “Caroling, Caroling,” “The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot,” and, of course,“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).”Also of note is an exuberant, gospel rendition of “Joy to the World,” featuring the choir from the Los Angeles Friendly Baptist Church, as well as Cole’s take on the bluesy “Merry Christmas Baby.” Accompanying the singer are a host of talented players—jazz pianist Cedar Walton, drummer Harold Jones, and R&B artist Patrice Rushen on keyboards—among them.
In a 1994 interview with Jetmagazine, Cole called Holly & Ivy, “A non-traditional album,” and hoped that the collection would remind listeners about the true spirit of the holiday season. Upon its release, the soulful album was received warmly by fans and critics alike. Billboard called it the “rarest of Christmas albums: an elegant set with appeal that could outlast the season,” while Entertainment Weekly proclaimed it to be “brassy and bustling…As warm and toasty as a hot toddy.” Certified Gold by the RIAA, Holly & Ivy peaked at Number 36 on the Billboard Top 200. In 2013, it once again charted, landing at Number Six on Billboard’s Holiday Albums chart, nearly two decades after its release.
A nine-time GRAMMYÒAward-winner, Natalie Cole (1950–2015) grew up in a musical family—the daughter of trailblazing artist Nat King Cole and jazz singer Maria Hawkins Ellington. Cole, however, paved a distinctive path for herself and rose to fame in her own right. Her 1975 debut, Inseparable, spawned hit songs “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love),” and “Inseparable”—earning the singer two GRAMMYS, including Best New Artist, and establishing Cole as the first African-American recipient in that category. The singer would maintain a steady presence on the R&B and Pop charts throughout the ’70s, with hits like “I’ve Got Love on My Mind” and “Our Love.” In 1977, Cole became the first female artist to release two Platinum-certified albums in one year (for Unpredictable and Thankful).
Towards the end of the ’80s Cole made a triumphant return to the radio waves with hits like “Jump Start (My Heart),” “I Live for Your Love,” and a dance-pop cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac.” But it was her 1991 tribute album to her father, Unforgettable…With Love, which put Natalie Cole back in the spotlight. The album, which went to Number One on the Billboard 200, earned the singer six GRAMMY Awards and, to-date, has sold over 14 million copies worldwide. Cole continued to find success performing American standards throughout the next two decades of her life, with albums like Stardust (1996) and Ask a Woman Who Knows (2002). In addition to her prolific work in the music industry, Cole also penned two memoirs and flourished as an actress—even playing herself in a dramatic, award-winning performance in Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story, based on her first autobiography, Angel on My Shoulder. Over the course of her storied and inspiring forty-year career, Cole released a total of 23 studio albums, with over 30 million copies sold, worldwide.