EWTN Anchor Raymond Arroyo's Christmas Album Climbs the Charts

Over the years, Arroyo has performed with the likes of Johnny Mathis and Aaron Neville, among others, on several Christmas specials, which led many to ask him about making his own Christmas album.

The cover of Raymond Arroyo's album "Christmas Merry & Bright."
The cover of Raymond Arroyo's album "Christmas Merry & Bright." (photo: Sophia Music Group)

Combining warm vocals and the classic sound of a New Orleans jazz band, Raymond Arroyo’s album Christmas Merry & Bright offers a fresh spin on treasured Christmas melodies. The recently released album currently stands among the top 5 on Billboard’s seasonal and jazz charts, top 10 overall on Amazon’s music chart, and top 25 on Barnes & Noble’s bestselling chart for all genres. 

Arroyo, host of EWTN’s The World Over, called the process of making the album “an explosion and a journey of joy” in an interview with CNA and credited his audience for the inspiration behind his album. 

Over the years, Arroyo has performed with the likes of Johnny Mathis and Aaron Neville, among others, on several Christmas specials, which led many to ask him about making his own Christmas album.

When he was first approached by a record producer to consider recording an album, he said his initial thought was no. However, after praying about it, he thought about how he could make it original.  

“I dug into the origin stories of so many of these Christmas carols and songs we take for granted and discovered these incredible backstories and approaches to the songs that I had never heard before or considered before,” he explained. 

Raymond Arroyo recording his new album "Christmas Merry & Bright." Credit: Sophia Music Group

Raymond Arroyo recording his new album “Christmas Merry & Bright.” Credit: Sophia Music Group

Together with Kevin Kaska — composer and arranger for hit shows such as The Greatest Showman and Disney’s The Jungle Book and The Lion King, among others — the album showcases the big band jazz sound from Arroyo’s native New Orleans in the rendition of Christmas classics such as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Feliz Navidad” with José Feliciano. 

Arroyo shared that this is the first time Feliciano agreed to do a new rendition of his beloved Christmas song. When he first wrote it in 1970, Feliciano was “under duress” due to his producer pressuring him to come up with something original, Arroyo explained.

“So, he wrote ‘Feliz Navidad’ in literally 10 minutes. But in his mind, he was thinking of celebrating Christmas by sitting with his brothers on the shores of Puerto Rico, beating on tin cans and boxes, whatever they could find, and singing Spanish carols.”

Inspired to go back to the original context of the song, Arroyo proposed a bossa nova feel to the song and that it be sung “like two brothers on a beach.” Feliciano agreed. 

Arroyo shared that many of his fans are surprised to learn that he has a musical background. He attended a performing arts school in New Orleans, studied acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and took part in several musicals. 

“Growing up in New Orleans you can’t help but be influenced and surrounded by music,” he said. “It’s a part of your life. … So, there was a rich jazz world that swirled around me my entire life.” 

Before returning to the recording studio, Arroyo saw a vocal coach every week, ran his scales, and is now preparing for a tour that will include stops in Phoenix; Dallas; Tampa, Florida; Cleveland; and Nashville, Tennessee.

Arroyo said he was “humbled and aghast” when he saw his Christmas album climbing to the top of the charts. 

“When you see an album like this that really was a labor of love, and anytime you sing, it’s such a vulnerable art,” he added. “You’re putting your heart out for public consumption because it’s not like speech or book, there’s something removed there. It’s your voice; it’s your breath; it’s your mind behind it all. So there’s something very personal about it.”

Arroyo said that during this difficult time in the world, the album is a “gift” for his audience and a reminder to “focus on joy and the ultimate joy, which is the coming of the Christ Child.”

“It’s a touchstone of joy in the midst of chaos and gloom and darkness that light still shines in Bethlehem. And that really is the through-line to all these songs … the light still dawns in Bethlehem.”

He pointed out that Christmas music “is the only genre of music that your great, great, great, grandparents sang, you are singing, and your children’s children will be singing in the future.”

“There’s no other genre of music that has that power. None,” Arroyo said. “And I think it’s because it touches Jesus. That’s my take. It’s wrapped up in the Incarnation and in God, which is why it’s the only eternal music.” 

As for future projects, Arroyo said he hopes to make another album but will “wait on the inspiration.”

“Mother Angelica used to say, ‘When God inspires you to do something, don’t question it. Run at it.’ And I’ve done that my whole life. Really since she told me that, because I watched her do that.”

A segment about “Christmas Merry & Bright” was recently featured on EWTN’s The World Over and is available for order here

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