If the sheer variety of holiday music that pops up each winter is any indication, there's no genre that can't handle a little Christmas spirit. This year, Louisiana country singer Sammy Kershaw decided to test that theory with the sounds of the bayou. His new album of Cajun-infused holiday songs is called A Sammy Klaus Christmas.
"I'm a country artist — but I'm down here in the southwestern part of Louisiana in Cajun country, and we have blues, jazz, country, French zydeco, Southern rock 'n' roll. I just kind of put all of those together, and that's how I come up with my sound over all these years," Kershaw tells NPR's David Greene.
"It's my own sound, and there's not very many other people that have it," says Kershaw. "But it's because of all the great music we have here in Cajun country."
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
All this holiday season, we have been bringing you the latest in Christmas music. We've been featuring song styles ranging from pop to gospel. And today, we are taking you to the Bayou for a Cajun Christmas.
SAMMY KERSHAW: (Reading) 'Cause there on the Bayou, when I stretch my neck stiff, there's eight alligator a'pulling the skiff. And a little fat drover with a long poling stick, I know right away, got to be old St. Nick.
GREENE: That is the voice of country music artist Sammy Kershaw, reading "A Cajun Night Before Christmas," a spoken-word part of his new album, which is called "A Sammy Klaus Christmas." And we have caught up with Sammy Kershaw in Lafayette, Louisiana.
And, Mr. Kershaw, Merry Sammy Klaus Christmas to you.
KERSHAW: Well, thank you, Merry Christmas to you. And you can call me Sam.
GREENE: Well, thank you, Sam. I appreciate that. Let's start with the song from your album that's about snowy scenes that are pretty far from the Bayou, but you give it a real solid Cajun feeling.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONGS, "JINGLE BELLS")
KERSHAW: (Singing) Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.
GREENE: That's pretty fun. You know, I don't know if I ever would've put Cajun and Christmas together. But you've got it going on there.
KERSHAW: Well, you know, I'm a country artist. But like you said, I'm down here in the southwestern part of Louisiana, in Cajun country, and, you know, we have blues, jazz, country, French zydeco, Southern rock and roll. And I just kind of put all of those together, and that's how I come up with my sound over all these years. You know, it's my own sound, and there's not very many other people that have it like it, you know. But it's because of all the great music we have here in Cajun country, in Louisiana.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS")
KERSHAW: (Singing) Have a holly, jolly Christmas. And in case you didn't hear, oh, by jolly, have a holly, jolly Christmas this year.
GREENE: Is there a big Cajun dish that was always served at a Kershaw family Christmas?
KERSHAW: Well, you know, we always have rice dressing. We always had rice dressing - dirty rice, a lot of people call it.
KERSHAW: You always have to have pecan pies there.
GREENE: You're making me hungry.
KERSHAW: Sweet potato pies, you know, you have to have. It's just, you know, Cajun people love to cook, and they love to eat.
GREENE: Well, Cajun people apparently know how to cook, eat, as you say, and know how to sing. And I want to hear a little bit of one of the big crowd-pleasers on your recent tour.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONGS, "SANTA CLAUS IS BACK IN TOWN")
KERSHAW: (Singing) Got no sleigh with reindeer, no sack on my back, you going to see me coming in a big, black Cadillac. Whoa, it's Christmastime, pretty baby, and the snow is falling on the ground.
GREENE: This is originally an Elvis song, isn't it?
KERSHAW: Yeah. That's right, man. I just love the groove, you know.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SANTA CLAUS IS BACK IN TOWN")
KERSHAW: (Singing) 'Cause Santa Claus is back in town. Christmas...
GREENE: Well, have a fantastic holiday, Sammy Kershaw.
KERSHAW: Oh, thank you, man. Merry Christmas to you. And, you know, my biggest dream in life is to be the real Santa Claus.
GREENE: Well, you got the title for me.
KERSHAW: Thank you, man.
GREENE: Sammy Kershaw, thanks so much for joining us. His new album is "A Sammy Klaus Christmas," and he wants to be the real Santa Claus.
You're listening to MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.