Joshua Mills and Christmas Miracles

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Joshua Mills, Christmas Miracle, now available

Joshua Mills has been in the recording business for fifteen years now, but only this year released his first Christmas album. Focused on a theme of miracles -- and the desire to bring miracles back to Christmas -- affected not only the album title, CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, but several of the tracks, which are a blend of original songs and traditional standards.

With Christmas fast approaching, we spoke with Mills about his album as well as the unique production methods involved in making it happen.

How daunting is it to set out to do brand new music for a seasonal niche that's packed with some pretty long-standing standards?

Well, you know, the main reason why I recorded this album was because of the affinity people have with Christmas music. Some of my best Christmas Time memories are centered around the music of the season.... and like you said, there are so many standard songs we like to hear year after year, but when I set out to record this album I didn't want to "reinvent the wheel" so to speak. I wanted to bring something very fresh to the table and give people a bunch of new Christmas music to add to their holiday playlists. So to do that, I went back into my childhood memories of Christmas and pulled out some of my favorite songs that have been less-covered and also wrote a couple original songs to add to this CHRISTMAS MIRACLE collection.

Kickstarter has become a familiar go-to for creators to find funding for projects. How smoothly / quickly did your Kickstarter campaign go for CHRISTMAS MIRACLE?

Joshua Mills, Christmas MiracleI feel very blessed by the outcome of my Kickstarter campaign. It was a real step of faith just to have the courage to put myself on social media in that way, but the feedback was tremendous, and through it I've been able to connect with a lot of my followers in a way that I've not been able to do in the past. We reached our $33,000.00 goal about half way through the campaign and then continued to raise almost another $10,000 after we reached our initial goal. Having crowdfunding resources like this has been a tremendous blessing to independent Artists like myself. I guess you could say reaching our goal was part of the "Christmas Miracle"!

Was the Kickstarter success instrumental in attracting guest vocalists, or did you already have partners ready before the funding?

We had already begun recording the album before the Kickstarter campaign was ever launched... everything was done as a step of faith. But we really needed the additional funding in order to successfully complete the album, but as far as the guest vocalists, they are all my personal friends. My record was produced by Jack Shocklee (tobyMac/David Thulin) and he did a lot of the production work at his own studio just outside of Nashville. While I was in his studio recording vocals for "Angels from the Realms of Glory" his wife, Beckah Shae was sitting in on the session, and I knew that she wanted to add her vocals to the mix. So I asked her to feature on that song and she was ecstatic about it. It was the perfect collaboration because Beckah has such angelic vocals. Gospel artists, LaRue Howard and Meka King both live in Orlando so I went down there in the spring to record with them. LaRue's vocals on "Light One Candle" add such power to the song as the message is about carrying the flame and passing it on even through adversity. Grace Williams who is a worship leader in Orange County, California joined me for my original track "Precious Baby" which I wrote as a "Christmas-Worship" song. Her sound is so soothing and really lends itself to the tone of the song. These features really help to round out the album and give it a very special feeling.

When recording the classic Christmas standards, did you set out to put your own stamp on them, or did you intend to keep them unembellished, or both?

You know, I can only be myself and I always approach my albums in this way. I know a lot of people that have much better vocals than I do, but I've always felt that if I could be sincere in my sound and music, that it would shine through and people would be able to feel that. So when I was recording some of the classics on this album, I just sang them the way I've always enjoyed singing them and I guess it puts my stamp of simplicity on them... but more than that, I want people to be able to feel my heart and the spirit I carry. At the end of the day it's the presence of God that makes a difference, and that's really what it's all about, after all this album is called CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!

"It Snowed" is the first released single from CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, which was recorded at Capitol Records using the same microphone used by Frank Sinatra. Did knowing that impact your delivery of the song at the time of recording, making it any different from previous practice sessions?

I was definitely taken by surprise when I discovered that I'd be using Frank Sinatra's mic to record many of the songs on this album, and I'm sure that impacted my delivery a bit. You can hear that rat-pack swagger on some of the more classic songs on this album for sure! ;-)



Which song do you have the highest hopes of hearing played five years from now?

"Gift of Love" was the last original song I wrote for the album, but it is probably the one that is closest to my heart. It came from meditating upon John 3:16 and really letting God reveal that verse to me. Sometimes the most important things are overlooked. And my prayer is that the message and spirit on this song will continue to inspire people for many years as they discover the greatness of God's love for them.

I ask all the CCM artists and other Christians in the entertainment industry this same question when I get the opportunity: Why are you a Christian? Not how did you become one, but why?

I'm a Christian undoubtedly because I have experienced the reality of Jesus' wonder working power in my life. The presence of God is what has sustained me through both the good and the tough times in my life. Truly without Him I wouldn't even recognize myself. He is my everything... and that's why I'm a Christian.