Joshua Mills

Scene Magazine

Christmas Cheer

It may only be October, but the Christmas season will be upon us in no time. With that in mind, London resident Joshua Mills recently completed work on an album of seasonal songs entitled Christmas Miracle. “I purposely didn’t want to make an album that had already been done before. There’s so much good Christmas music out there already, it would’ve been pointless to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. When we made our final selections for the Christmas Miracle album, I chose to record classic songs that haven’t been overplayed,” said Mills. “I’ve always loved the song ‘Marshmallow World’ made famous by Dean Martin, so it was a no-brainer for this album. We also recorded the song ‘Angels From The Realms of Glory’ to the tune of ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’... it became a combination of two really great Christmas Carols. This album will feel familiar and yet new to the listener. I think each person that listens will feel those special holiday feelings.” Recorded at studios in Orlando, Tampa, Nashville and Vancouver, along with the classic Capitol Records studios in Hollywood and in London at EMAC Studios, Christmas Miracle contains two originals from Mills and ‘It Snowed’ written by Londoner Meaghan Smith. Mills is currently planning for a Christmas show on November 28-29 in London. 

Nationwide CD Release - Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MUSIC VETERAN JOSHUA MILLS UNVEILS HIS CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, AVAILABLE NATIONWIDE

First Holiday Project Features A Blend of Original Songs with Christmas Classics & Special Guests Beckah Shae, Meka King Grace Williams and LaRue Howard

It Snowed” Impacts Radio on October 17

 

October 13, 2014 (Los Angeles, Calif.)— Fifteen-year veteran worship leader and recording artist, Joshua Mills has unveiled his first-ever holiday record Christmas Miracle, available in stores and on digital platforms now. With his first original Christmas single “It Snowed” impacting radio on October 17,the 15- track disc shares the message of hope and miracles that come in all shapes and sizes.

Produced by Jack Shocklee (Toby Mac, Beckah Shae) the new holiday project features several special guest including Beckah Shae, Meka King, Grace Williams and LaRue Howard. With smooth vocals, piano-driven melodies and contemporary beats, this album instantly transports the listener into a warm and fuzzy holiday state of mind. It is that combination of traditional Christmas classics and new original tracks that create a well-rounded and elevating compilation.

When I think about Christmas, I think about what happens at Christmas that doesn’t happen at any other time of the year,” explains Mills. “We get to celebrate the things that are dearest to us: the people, the places, the atmospheres, the food….the music. Everything that we love so much it all comes out at Christmas to celebrate the miracles that the holiday represents.”

The theme of miracles stayed with Mills as he recorded the album and the desire to bring miracles back to Christmas carried a lot of significance to the album title. Being able to see the extraordinary possibilities of God, the miracles, is at the epicenter of the holiday season and seemed a fitting focus to the disc.

Recording the album was a miracle in itself as the internationally renowned Canadian speaker recorded it across the country fromLos Angeles, Orlando, Tampa, Vancouver, London, Ontario to Nashville. It served as a musical map to Mills’ ministry as it followed him from city to city on tour.

For more information about Joshua Mills, please visit www.joshuamillsmusic.com.


Christmas Miracle Track Listing:

1. The Christmas Waltz

2. It Snowed 

3. This Christmas

4. Precious Baby [feat. Grace Williams]

5. Marshmallow World

6. Come On Ring Those Bells/Christmas Vacation [feat. Meka King]

7. Angels from the Realms of Glory [feat. Beckah Shae]

8. Gift of Love (Heaven's Kiss)

9. C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S

10. Light One Candle [feat. LaRue Howard]

11. Let the Season Take Wing

12. The Nutcracker: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

13. Huron Carol ('Twas In The Moon of Wintertime)

14. Christmastime Is Here/O Christmas Tree

15. Holiday Greeting

 

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365 Days of Inspiring Media

I have semi-accepted the fact that Christmas albums are releasing early, although I may not fully understand why the stores light up their establishments with decorations, trees and lights, as early as September. Although the plus side is that it is a special time of the year that is being promoted, believers are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, and it’s always a good thing when everyone is reminded about Jesus and what He has done for us. Now, joining the ranks of Michael W. Smith, 1 Girl Nation and Aaron Shust this year is the indie veteran singer/songwriter Joshua Mills.

“…I wanted this album to be deeply spiritual but I also wanted it to be extremely fun because I think God is fun…” A fifteen year veteran worship leader and recording artist, Joshua spent the whole year recording this holiday themed album, during touring and ministering to fellow brother and sisters in Christ. The result is 15 songs of holiday cheer, invoking the spirit of Christmas and the true meaning of why we celebrate the season. While I don’t really recognise that many of the carols though, and I haven’t heard of Joshua Mills prior to a few days ago, I think that this plays in my favour, as I can listen to these songs without any preconceived ideas, so that I can focus our gaze to Jesus, and not on the familiarity of the tunes. Overall, like the other Christmas albums that released early, this album is a joy to listen to- this album has a pop/contemporary feel similar to artists like Jonny Diaz and Matthew West!

Opening the track list with the Frank Sinatra classic “The Christmas Waltz”, we are met with a piano centred melody with Joshua warmly and emphatically wishing the listeners a very merry Christmas waltz style. The tempo of the track remind me of the jazz songs in bars and clubs in the 50’s and 60’s, and though Joshua doesn’t sing about Jesus in this song, his heart and intentions to grab our attentions to dwell upon the season, are pure. Though not my favourite Christmas carol, Joshua’s distinct voice fits perfectly with the slower tempo and the soul/gospel feel of the track.

Out of all the carols that Joshua has covered, the balance of the track list is more tipped to the lesser known tracks, however there are some songs you’ll immediately recognise. The pace of “Marshmallow World” is the same as Francesca Battistelli’s version, but that’s about all that stay the same. Whiel Francesca recorded an upbeat pop version, Joshua stripped the song down to its acoustic format, with piano and finger clicks anchoring the song musically. This is a song written in 1949, most famously recorded by Bing Crosby, and rerecorded over the years countless times, and as Joshua sings about food, and how Christmas is an overall fun time, “Marshmallow World” does get me into the Christmas Spirit, and is a solid rendition of a lesser known carol. “Angels From the Realms Of Glory”, led by the synth and marching drums (reminding me of “Little Drummer Boy” in that respect, is sung with Beckah Shae on guest vocals. But what is remarkable, is that this song is sung to the melody of “Angels We Have Heard Of High”, with the chorus sung being ‘…gloria, in excelsis deo…’. It’s an ingenious medley of sorts, and I commend Joshua for delivering it with aplomb and professionalism, as we remember that Christmas is all about praising God for being born into this world!

Including a medley of the mid tempo pop songs “Come On Ring Those Bells” and “Christmas Vacation” (brilliantly sung by Meka King), Joshua shows us his cheerful and happy demeanour, as he sing with abandon and gratitude, proclaiming that ‘…Jesus is the king, born for you and me…’, across light piano and commanding Christmas bells. Meka also reminds us that Christmas is a fun time to spend with our family and friends in her rendition of the pop classic. “This Christmas”, originally written by Donny Hathaway, is present here also, as Joshua exclaims against the backdrop of a mid tempo piano prominent ballad, that this Christmas will be very special because of the presence of family and friends reminding us that it is the people that make Christmas great, not our presents and other material possessions.

The piano led ballad and the album’s first single “It Snowed”, also including the acoustic guitar, speaks about Joshua’s love of snow and how it makes him feel happy inside, as he can spend time with his loved ones while playing in the snow, and the traditional song “C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S” (that Joshua never heard a recording of but his family had religiously sung around the tree on Christmas Day) is featured also, complete with Joshua’s grandfather reading the nativity story at the beginning of the track. Although I am guessing that this is a family song from the Mills’ household, as I couldn’t find lyrics anywhere on the internet. But that’s ok, as I love the song, as it speaks about the meaning of Christmas through the acronym- Christ child, Herald angels, Redeemer, Israel, Star, Three Wise Men, Manger, All He stands for, Shepherds. The acronym and song is pretty cool, huh?

“Light A Candle”, a upbeat pop/rock 80’s sounding track, sung with LaRue Howard, is a Hanukkah song originally recorded by the folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary; and is meant to remind Jews of the history of their holiday. However I think this piano led mid tempo melody can double up as a mainstream, feel good inspirational song as the theme and focus are the universal traits present in Christianity as well- love, peace, joy and dedication to our faith. While Joshua also included a rare Amy Grant penned Christmas tune “Let The Season Take Wing” in his lineup (this song was only recorded on cassette tape inn 1992!), which is a mid tempo ballad subtly outlining the reason for the season, and why we celebrate December 25th in the first place; and also the instrumental orchestral like piece “The Nutcracker: Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy”, a dance meant for a ballerina in the ballet The Nutcracker; it’s clear that Joshua handpicked these songs regardless of whether they were popular or not, and more so based on what was important to and resonated with him.

Paying tribute and homage to his heritage, Joshua expertly and wonderfully covers the oldest Canadian carol ever- “Huron Carol”, where the mysterious tempo and the presence of the glockenspiel perfectly complements the imagery and metaphors included in the lyrics. Designed to create a place where we can worship God, what these lyrics do is remind us of a God who is faithful, as Joshua ardently cries out‘…come kneel before the radiant Boy who brings you beauty, peace and joy, Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis Gloria…’, with the lyrics drawing me in to sing along as well! And while the piano only medley of “Christmas Time Is Here” and “O Christmas Tree” (a piano only track where Joshua relays the enjoyability of Christmas as we spend them with our families, and a ‘worship song’ to a tree, respectively) ends the album, as well as a 10 second message of Merry Christmas from Joshua; it is the two original songs that impact me the most!

“Precious Baby” features the talents of Grace Williams on backing vocals, is a subdued, reflective worship anthem led by the keys, which directly speaks about Jesus being our Saviour, that ‘…You’ve come to bring us peace, You’ve come to bring us joy, You’ve come to bring us hope, the miracles that only Heaven holds…’. While the song is soothing and the delivery of the vocals is quite captivating and powerful; it is the earnest and honest lyrics about Jesus that has me respect Joshua’s songwriting all the more! The last original song is “Gift Of Heaven (Heaven’s Kiss)”, once again led by the piano, and this time with lyrics closer to Joshua’s heart. Reminding me of a testimony song of sorts, Joshua sings out three different choruses, all the while reminding us that Jesus is the greatest gift, and that His birth is one of the most important things in history that could happen, so we ought to be thankful, grateful, and remember that ‘…the greatest gift that I’ve ever seen, is the way that You love me unconditionally, the greatest love that I’ve ever known, is how You gave up Yourself, now I’m never alone, cause You gave it all…’. Well done Joshua for your collection of original and traditional Christmas carols, and well done for introducing me to obscure carols that I will surely introduce to others as well!

“…When I think about Christmas, I think about what happens at Christmas that doesn’t happen at any other time of the year. That we get to celebrate the things that are dearest to us: the people, the places, the atmospheres, the food….the music. Everything that we love so much it all comes out at Christmas to celebrate the miracles that the holiday represents…” This is the first album I have heard from Joshua Mills. I suppose it’s hard for me to judge the artist’s discography just from one album, and a holiday themed album at that, however Christmas Miracle is so musically and lyrically strong, that I have been won over as a fan. I will definitely check out the rest of Joshua’s studio albums, and his non-Christmas songs as well! I would also encourage everyone else to check out Joshua’s album; this is a pop/acoustic record, meant for fans of artists such as Josh Wilson and Jonny Diaz. Well done Joshua for recording a beautifully sung and brilliantly performed album about the true meaning of Christmas!

4 songs to listen to: Precious Baby, Gift of Love, C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S, Let The Season Take Wing

Score: 4/5

RIYL: Brandon Heath, Josh Wilson, Jonny Diaz, Matthew West, Jadon Lavik

Christian Music Makers

Most Christmas albums are recorded within a span of weeks in one studio. But when you’re Joshua Mills, a 15-year veteran worship leader and recording artist, it’s difficult to find the time to be in one studio or city for very long.

His new album, Christmas Miracle, came about in Los Angeles, Orlando, Tampa, Vancouver, London, Ontario and Nashville. Christmas Miracle has a diverse-yet-familiar vibe to it. In particular, I like hearing “Christmas Vacation,” an update of the theme song from the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation film.

The album’s first single, “It Snowed,” was done using the same mic Frank Sinatra used at Capitol Records in L.A. If you like the beautiful tone of Michael Buble’s voice, you need to hear fellow Canadian Joshua Mills. Hear samples of his engaging Christmas Miracle album at his website. –Mark Weber 

Jesus Freak Hideout

Joshua Mills is a multi-faceted, and multi-talented, artist. Mills has been a worship leader for 15 years, a speaker, and is an ordained minister. Including his newest album, Christmas Miracle, Mills has recorded six studio albums and two live albums. While some of the material is original, most of the songs are Chirstmas covers; many are lesser known, or at least lesser covered, songs. Frank Sinatra's "The Christmas Waltz," Meghan Smith's "It Snowed," "Marshmallow World," made popular by Bing Crosby, and Peter Yarrow's (Peter, Paul and Mary) "Light One Candle" are all examples of songs one who is not a connoisseur of Christmas music could possibly mistake for originals. What's more fun than these somewhat obscure covers is the medley of "Come on Ring Those Bells/Christmas Vacation." The first song of the pair is by Evie (recorded in 1977), but the second is taken right from the soundtrack and end credits of the classic Christmas movie of the same name (originally sung by Mavin Staples). There are also some pretty nice original cuts to go along with these covers. "Precious Baby" and "Gift of Love (Heaven's Kiss)" are excellent additions, and the acrostic formed in "C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S" is a sweet little reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Miracle finds Joshua Mills going for more of a classic Christmas feel for a good bit of the album, but there is also plenty of current pop, and even worship, music present too. Overall, it makes for a nice mix of sounds this Christmas season as there is a little something for differing musical tastes. Mills has put together a solid mix of songs that you likely won't find anywhere in your current playlist; unless of course you are a fan of one of the original artists. It's still a little early in the year for Christmas music, but Joshua Mills is trying his hardest to get you in the spirit of the season. Pick up Christmas Miracle for an enjoyable listen this Christmas.

JFH Interview

  • Jesus freak Hideout (Michael Weaver): How challenging was it to record this album in several different cities and studios while traveling?

     

    Joshua Mills: You know, it would've been more challenging trying to get the entire album recorded in one location! Being that I'm constantly in motion, it seemed like the natural thing to do, to record this album in different studios as I would find time to work on it. The highlight of that for me was being able to meet so many amazing and gifted people all over the country. Eric Mosher, who engineered the songs at The Warehouse in Vancouver, had previously worked with Michael Buble on his Christmas album. So he was passing along some tricks of the trade as I recorded with him there. Things like that made the overall recording experience for this album quite rewarding.

     

  • JFH (Michael): You're an extremely busy person. How many days a year would you say that you're on the road?

     

    Joshua: It would be easier to tell you how many days I've been at home this year. Ha. My life is lived on the road. I've been on 5 continents this year (some of those a few times each) and I've had the privilege of singing and leading worship in over 60 different nations throughout my career. I feel extremely blessed.

     

  • JFH (Michael): The album is musically diverse. You go from the really classic feel of a Sinatra cover in "The Christmas Waltz," to something really pop heavy like "Marshmallow World" (which actually reminds me of All Star United). Where does the majority of your musical influence come from?

     

    Joshua: I was raised in the church, so my very early musical influences were listening to the records of Keith Green, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and other early CCM artists. Later on, I discovered that I really loved music... and that included many different styles and artists. I've been personally impacted by the modern worship movement coming from Vineyard Music and Hillsong, but my private music collection includes everything from U2 to Katy Perry as well. I appreciate diversity in music and I wanted this Christmas album to feel like a holiday celebration of sound. I think the major thing that sets this album apart from the others is that I wanted it to be deeply spiritual, but also extremely fun... and the choice of musical styles are a major part of making that happen.

     

  • JFH (Michael): "Come on Ring Those Bells" is a fairly obscure song. I did some digging and it appears it was first recorded by Evie in 1977, however I did find another more recent cover or two. You came up with, in my opinion, the brilliant idea of putting that song together with "Christmas Vacation." What gave you the idea, and are you also a fan of the movie?

     

    Joshua: So... growing up in the church, that Christmas album by Evie was always playing during the holidays. I originally sang this song when I was ten years old in a Christmas cantata. When I began making song choices for this album... it was one of the first songs included for the project. But it wasn't until we were driving in the car, listening to the track that had been created for the album, when my son, Lincoln, spoke up from the backseat and said "hey Dad... this almost sounds like that Christmas Vacation song!"... we've watched that movie almost religiously every year on Christmas Eve, and it still gives me a good laugh... so I called my producer, Jack Shocklee, and asked if he would be able to do a mash-up of the two songs together... and I think the combination turned out to be a really fun holiday song!

     

  • JFH (Michael): When it comes down to it, "Precious Baby" and, especially, "Gift of Love (Heaven's Kiss)" are my favorites. Tell us a little about those two songs.

     

    Joshua: Well, I wrote both of those songs specifically for this album. "Precious Baby" came from a place of deep worship, where I wanted to acknowledge God's son as a miracle through all seasons of life. The lyrics move from the Shepherd's seeing Him as the Precious Baby, Emmanuel, to the Wise Men adoring Him as the Precious Boy who is a Child King and the Promised Lamb, and finally to us personally recognizing Him as Precious Savior in our heart. Because that song carried a very worshipful tone, I asked my dear friend and fellow worship-leader, Grace Williams, to join with me on that track. I'm very happy with the way that song came across in the final mix... it carries the proper reverence for Christ that should be an integral part of all of our holiday celebrations. The song "Gift of Love' really carried that theme a bit further. I had been meditating upon the scripture John 3:16... it had been swirling in my spirit for days... and I was flying home from South Korea, about 20,000 feet in the air, and all of a sudden the initial words and melody came for this song. My son Lincoln let me put a voice recording on his phone (literally singing mid-flight) and when I got home my wife, Janet and I worked on fine-tuning the final lyrics and the result is what you hear on the album. To me, the song "Gift of Love" can speak to so many different areas of our life journey... but the greatest gift was when God gave us His all through sending His son, Christ Jesus, as the hope for humanity.

     

  • JFH (Michael): I read that "C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S" was a song that your family used to sing together; I've personally never heard of it. What do you know about its origins?

     

    Joshua: This song was sung by my Mom and her sisters every year at our family Christmas dinner. That's the only thing I really know about it. It was one of their favorite Christmas songs that they grew up singing in Sunday School and it just became a part of our holiday heritage. Another family tradition was listening to my Grandfather read the Christmas story, before we opened any gifts, as we sat around the Christmas tree. So that's why I asked my Grandfather to read a passage from Luke on the intro to this song. I was so glad to be able to include these meaningful traditions on this album... hopefully it will become part of the holiday celebrations of many more families that listen to it as well!

     

  • JFH (Michael): "Light One Candle" was written by Peter Yarrow and is a song that spoke for freedom of Soviet Jews; it's known more as a Hanukkah song. What went into the decision to include this one on the album?

     

    Joshua: You know, I love the holiday season so much I felt like I needed to include something that spoke deeper to the roots of our Christian faith and celebration. This year, Hanukkah, the festival of lights, ends on December 24th... so it literally leads us right up to Christmas... the day when we celebrate the light of the world coming to earth. When I recorded this song it meant so many things to me... but one of the main messages I wanted to convey through singing it on the album was to encourage people to not give up through adversity... we must make the most of every moment and light one more candle by inspiring faith as we let our light shine before all men.

     

  • JFH (Michael): Are you planning to tour any for Christmas Miracle this year?

     

    Joshua: I won't be touring with the album this year, but I will be hosting a special one-night concert with my good friend, Beckah Shae, in London, Ontario, Canada (my hometown) this November 29th. It's called "Christmas Miracle: A Holiday Celebration" and I encourage you to come if you're close by! Tickets are available online:www.joshuamillsmusic.com

     

  • JFH (Michael): Now for the difficult question… What is your favorite Christmas song ever? If I really sit down and think hard, through all of the old and new, I always seem to come back to "O Holy Night." I personally like the version done by Seven Day Jesus from 1998.

     

    Joshua: I know I should have a much more spiritual answer... but my favorite Christmas song is "The Christmas Waltz" and that's why I included it as the very first track on the album. I grew up listening to the Karen Carpenter rendition as my mom always had that album in the Christmas rotation. Growing up, we wouldn't listen to Christmas music until we brought home the Christmas tree and began decorating it... so just hearing that song brings me back to all those wonderful holiday memories of my childhood. On the "Christmas Miracle" album I wanted this song to sound like a holiday music box opening up, inviting the listeners into a wintery wonderland of child-like joy. As far as a more worshipful carol, my favorite would be "O Come All Ye Faithful"... I didn't record it on this album though, because I needed to save some songs for the next one ;-)