A Soulful Christmas In July

I didn't think I would succumb to sharing with the world how freaking hot I think it is because every time I see one of you complaining about it on Facebook, I envision your head between a Foreman grill.

That might be pregnancy hormones speaking, but seriously; it's July, we're in Houston, it's our penance. We'll all be counting down the days to Christmas before you know it. Then it'll be time to bitch about shopping or return policies or "whatever it is you white girls complain about."

For now, let's take a few moments to prepare ourselves for the redeeming holiday that is Christmas. It's merely a glimmer in our eyes at the moment, but retailers are actually beginning to stock up with holiday spirit; and clearly, we all need a little bit of that this summer.

We selected some of the most feel-good, soulful Christmas songs we could find because we need the soul as much as the spirit. Plus, you can play these songs year-round and they'll still make you dance.

Al Green, "Feels Like Christmas"

Green released a Christmas album in 1983 simply titled The Christmas Album. He truly knows how to put the sexy into any type of song.

James Brown, "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto"

Forget a White Christmas; Brown wants Santa to visit the ghetto. This is one of the most memorable and original Christmas songs ever. It was featured on Brown's album, Santa's Got a Brand New Bag; the Godfather of Soul is pictured on the cover, dressed like Santa Claus.

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles "Christmas Every Day"

Robinson and the Miracles released their Christmas album in 1963, and the entire album was produced by band member Ronnie White. The album featured Christmas classics, with the exception of this joint, a Smokey Robinson original.

Marvin Gaye, "I Want To Come Home For Christmas"

Gaye recorded and released this song in 1972. The song was conceived when co-writer Forest Hairston saw people tying yellow ribbons to trees in honor of Vietnam prisoners of war.

Aretha Franklin, "Walking In A Winter Wonderland"

Aretha has the vocal prowess and style to turn any old Christmas tune into a SONG, honey. She is one of the few artists who can take a classic seasonal staple, put her signature soul power into it, and turn it into a song that can be played over and over again every year.

Freddie King, "Christmas Tears"

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Freddie King was known as the Texas Cannonball in the blues world, and is referred to as one of the "Three Kings" of blues guitar (joining Albert King and B.B. King). This Christmas song encapsulates the blues: "I hear sleigh bells ring, but I haven't heard from you in years."

Charles Brown, "Merry Christmas Baby"

Brown was another blues musician born in Texas. Texas City, to be precise. This recording, as well as "Please Come Home for Christmas," would go on to be covered by many, many other musicians throughout the years.

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