Christmas is bringing the gift of music this year. A previously unreleased Aretha Franklin live recording will be released on a Christmas album in the next few months. Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” passed away on August 16, 2018, at 76 years old in Detroit after battling pancreatic cancer.
The song “O Tannebaum” will be featured on “Big Band Holidays II” from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Franklin performed the song as she played the piano at a 2015 holiday concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Her performance of the classic in both English and German was a surprise for the crowd. Franklin surprised the crowd with an impromptu version of “O Tannenbaum,” the traditional holiday carol, performed alone at the piano.
Franklin was quite fond of “O Tannenbaum,” a German folk song with lyrics by Ernst Anschütz. The carol did not appear on her 2008 album This Christmas, Aretha, maybe because she had previously recorded it for A Very Special Christmas 2, an all-star pop compilation benefiting the Special Olympics. She also sang the song in German at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1994.