Christmas is coming early this year with the release of "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't," a multi-artist recording based on the National Theatre of the Deaf's (NTD) staging of Ogden Nash's epic holi

Christmas is coming early this year with the release of "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't," a multi-artist recording based on the National Theatre of the Deaf's (NTD) staging of Ogden Nash's epic holiday poem. Due out Sept. 11 via Big Eye Music/Cleopatra, the recording is narrated by actor/children's recording artist John Lithgow, and features the talents of guitarist Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies), keyboardist/engineer Dave Dunn (Infectious Grooves), former teen idol Leif Garrett, and teen pop acts Take 5, Innosense, and Billy Crawford, among others.

The late Nash wrote "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't" in 1957 for his oldest grandson and his granddaughter. It was just one example of the verse he turned out throughout his career and up until his death in 1971.

Proceeds from the album will benefit the Hartford, Conn.-based NTD. The organization's Little Theatre of the Deaf, which is the Children's Theatre wing of the NTD, currently has "Rope Stories: Spinning Yarns from Rope" on tour. Aimed at elementary school audiences, the 50-minute program acquaints audiences with American Sign Language and combines original stories and Aesop's fables.

In addition to "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't," Big Eye/Cleopatra will release four other holiday collections on Sept. 11. Two are compilations -- "A Sentimental Christmas," featuring holiday classics performed by Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, Judy Garland, and others; and "Country Christmas Hits," which finds similar songs by the likes of Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Tom T. Hall.

The other two titles come from vintage R&B acts offering their renditions of songs in the spirit of the season -- the Miracles offer the 14-track "A Soulful Christmas," while the Platters present the 16-song collection "A Classic Christmas."

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