GRAMMY-nominated multi-generational family band We The Kingdom—comprising Brothers Ed and Scott Cash, Ed’s daughter Franni, his son Martin, and lifelong friend Andrew Bergthold—illuminate all that’s to love about Christmas on their aptly titled holiday EP, A Family Christmas.
Out now, the six-song set features five new original holiday tunes and a stirring rework of “Silent Night.” The opening track “Still Can’t Sleep On Christmas Eve” paints a vivid image of the awe and wonder of the season. Lyrically, it also perfectly captures the childlike innocence accompanying the anticipation of Christmas day. As We The Kingdom sing jubilantly, “Snow is falling all around us / Like our own wide world Inside a globe / Snowman in the yard / Hot chocolate on the stove And everywhere the Christmas Lights are glowing.”
Elsewhere, a noteworthy, chill-sending track is “Silent Night (Heavenly Peace).” While the age-old holiday favorite sets the foundation for the reimagined song, it’s the ruminative chorus that adds a depth of worship and reverence for The Reason for the season- Jesus Christ. “Holy, Holy / Hope in a manger / For you and for me / Bow down and worship / Come rest your eyes on the King Jesus, our heavenly peace,” the group soar on the chorus with the accompaniment of Dante Brown’s soul-stirring harmonies.
Sounds Like Nashville spoke with We The Kingdom recently about the vision they had for A Family Christmas, its songs, collaborating with Chris Tomlin, and the group’s favorite Nashville hangout spots. Check it out! (Note: We The Kingdom’s Franni Rae Cash was not available for this interview)
Was there a vision or theme y’all had in mind for your A Family Christmas EP?
Martin Cash: Yeah, we kind of had this thought for this EP but also going forward with future Christmas records: we wanted it to be a “family Christmas.” It’s s very nostalgic but also homegrown with pajamas and you’re just opening wrapping paper and it’s all over the floor. I feel that some Christmas [music] is too pristine and glassy. So the heart of it was to have it be what’s already familiar to us in terms of the family feel.
There’s an endless list of songs y’all could have cut for this new record. How did the group decide on the six on this album? Was it hard narrowing it down?
MC: Actually, no, not really. We had a ton of projects, but this is unique in the fact that it didn’t feel like we were striving. Sometimes when you’re stressed or panicky, you’ll feel like, “Oh, we just need songs,” and you end up throwing them out there and it’s actually not what you wanted to produce. I feel like in a unique way, we were digging but we also found what we wanted to release.
Scott Cash: But when we eventually do a full-length Christmas record and we’re adding Christmas classics and trying to reinterpret those, it’ll be much harder to make decisions, for sure. There are so many great songs to choose from!
I want to talk about the opening track, “Still Can’t Sleep On Christmas Eve,” which all of you wrote. What’s the story behind it?
Ed Cash: This is actually an older song. Scott was just talking to someone and he said, “Man, I still can’t sleep on Christmas eve!” We’ve always talked about that. The inspiration behind it, after that was, “What does a kid sitting in bed think about on Christmas eve?” All these visions pop into their head as a culmination of such a beautiful season centered around Jesus. Even though this song is more of a holiday, festive song, I think there’s something beautiful about all of that stuff too as it comes around the story of Christ. It’s fun to celebrate this time of year and season.
Chris Tomlin is featured on “Christmas Day.” How did this collaboration come about? Ed, were you friends with Chris for a while and that’s how it happened?
EC: Yes and no. I’ll explain it like this. Yeah, I’ve been great friends with Chris for a long time, we’ve written a lot of songs together and recorded a lot of songs together. But this song actually is one that just our band wrote. At that time, we weren’t thinking about Tomlin or anything. It was during the Christmas season that we wrote it, which is kind of cool because a lot of Christmas songs don’t get written or recorded during Christmas. As we played it out a few times in church, it slowly had a corporate angle to it. We just thought Chris would love it and sound amazing on it, which he does, so we brought that idea to him. I love him, man. He’s such a song champion. He’s one of the best writers, but he’s also really open-handed about carrying songs that he hasn’t necessarily written. There’s been a few throughout his career that he didn’t write that I think he carried so well. We’re really honored that he took that on and joined us.
The standalone cover on this EP is your reimagined version of “Silent Night (Heavenly Peace).” Was this the one y’all knew was essential for a Christmas project?
SC: I think for that song specifically, what that song does is it tells a really beautiful story. It’s a narrative. It’s one of the most beloved Christmas songs in history, I think. It’s stunning. We also thought, “If you are someone who believes in that narrative, what would be the natural response to that?” And to believe the narrative that the Almighty Creator would make Himself a child and come to the earth to save the earth, if you believe that, it warrants a response of adoration and worship. For us, we do believe that. So, we said, “What would it sound like to sing a response to that?” That’s where the chorus of “Heavenly Peace” came from.
How did you guys decide to tap on Dante Brown for this song?
SC: For all of us, we loved to produce records and music, and I think we heard Dante’s voice in our minds long before we heard it on tape and thought it would sound amazing with him on it. We were playing at a camp for a week and happened to be near Maverick City studios. So, Ed went down there to record their vocals and it all came together.
With your first Christmas project out, is this something y’all are looking into exploring more in your career? Maybe a Christmas album next year?
Andrew Bergthold: Absolutely! That is the plan.
Scott: We’d love to do a Christmas record, and then do a Christmas tour and make it feel like family.
Since we’re Sounds Like Nashville, I’d like to ask three Nashville and country music-related questions. First, Scott and Ed, where are your favorite spots to eat at in Nashville?
SC: I just took my wife there for her birthday. I’ve been there a couple of times, it will break the bank because it’s expensive, but it’s unbelievable. It’s called Bourbon Steak. It’s at the top of the JW Marriot in Nashville.
AB: That is a “Scott” restaurant! [laughs]
SC: It’s a fantastic meal! They have this S’mores dessert where it’s this glass-covered thing and when they pick it up, it smells like a campfire. It’s got marshmallows, ice cream, and chocolate! It’s just outrageous! That’s the best dinner spot in Nashville, according to me.
EC: I love The Optimist. They have incredible seafood. The chef there is a genius!
SC: And the best lunch spot? Leiper’s Fork Market, you can get a sandwich for $5, which is awesome.
Next, Andrew and Martin, do you guys have a favorite coffee shop in Nashville?
AB: There’s so many! [Mine is] McGavock’s and it’s in downtown Franklin, TN. It’s got amazing breakfast and great coffee. I get Cuban Coffee there.
MC: Steadfast is another place that’s pretty good. I’ve only been once or twice, but it’s really good.
SC: As the biggest coffee snub among the four of us, I’m going to say Crema is the best coffee shop.
Country music-wise, who are some of your favorite country artists?
MC: Man, I love the old-school stuff like Randy Travis. Some of the newer stuff is cool, but I think the classic, timelessness of some of the pioneers of the country world really speaks to me.
SC: I also love Kacey Musgraves! She’s amazing.
What can fans expect from We The Kingdom in 2022?
AB: On this tour, we’re currently writing for our next record. It’s harder to do on tour than we expected, but we’re excited. While we’re out in California, we’re hopefully gonna spend some time doing that. We’re going to be doing a good amount of touring and headlining a tour. (More information on We The Kingdom’s 2022 16-date headline tour can be found here)
To wrap, what’s a message you hope people take with them from your holiday EP, A Family Christmas?
AB: Just a sense of childlikeness and wonder that it’ll bring you back to being a child. Not only because it’s Christmas, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, for such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). There’s something so beautiful about that sense of wonder because we tend to get jaded when we’re older, just [being] aware of our own flaws and focused on that. But, when you start to focus on The Lord, it shifts your perspective up. When we can live like that, it’s just so beautiful.
SC: That’s a great question. I’d say also, it’s okay for Christmas to feel sad. There’s a longing associated with Christmas that I think most people feel. Sometimes the melancholy of Christmas makes people not like Christmas. I hope that as they walk through the melancholy of the season, they would feel hopeful and loved in the midst of it and that they’ll celebrate life.
Listen to We The Kingdom’s A Family Christmas EP below.