Last year, the lovely and talented Leslie Odom Jr., perhaps best known for his role in Hamilton on Broadway, released his first holiday recording, known simply as The Christmas Album. He (rightly) decided we all needed as much positivity as possible, and he certainly did his part. The whole album is lovely, but his reinterpretation of the song Little Drummer Boy featuring the South African Mzansi Youth Choir is my hands-down favorite. When asked why he decided to record the song using the choir, here’s what Odom had to say:
“To me, Little Drummer Boy offers a sweet memory of childhood of elementary school – middle school and elementary school choir. That song was a staple. There was rarely a Christmas concert that I wasn’t singing that song in my little boy soprano with 50 other kids. So, it was really nothing more than that. That was my memory of it.
“We imagined that little drummer boy possibly in a different scene of the manger. Possibly that manger is in South Africa – just a different version of the scene. But it has the same humility, same sincerity. But we just imaged his drum a little different and then building a chorus of drums around him. That was, at least our idea… We sent [the youth choir] a very stripped-down, bare-bones version of the song where I sang it straight down. We left a section for them. And then we knew we would sing the final chorus together. But the truth is, they sent us back something that was so exceptional. They really had done a wonderful job and we had to up our game. We had to reproduce the track to be something that was worthy of what they sent us. So, we really owe so much to the choir. What they did was just so beautiful that we had to make the track better.”