Anthony Hamilton Hits 'Home' With First Holiday Album

The Grammy Award winner and current nominee will also appear as a special guest on Fox's new drama "Empire."

To co-opt a popular phrase during this time of year, 'tis the season for Anthony Hamilton. Home for the Holidays, the R&B singer/songwriter/producer’s first holiday album, has jingled its way into the top 10 on three charts since its Oct. 17 release. Peaking at No. 6 on Billboard’s overall Holiday Albums chart, the 14-song RCA set reached No. 5 on R&B Albums and No. 8 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Ahead of Christmas Day itself, two more gifts have also come Hamilton’s way.

He recently earned a Grammy nod -- his 15th overall -- for best traditional R&B performance with labelmate Marsha Ambrosius for the pair's cover of Stevie Wonder's "As" from The Best Man Holiday soundtrack. And in the new year, he’ll appear as a special guest on an episode of Fox Television's new series Empire. The one-hour drama about the music industry premieres Jan. 7 and stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.

Charts: Top Holiday Albums | Hot Holiday Songs

“Next year is looking really good,” says Hamilton, who is wrapping up his Home for the Holidays tour. Kicking off Thanksgiving day in Dallas, the 18-date trip ends Dec. 21 in Oakdale (Wallingford, Conn.). Non-tour stops along the way included a Dec. 11 performance on Live With Kelly & Michael and another on the Steve Harvey Show airing Dec. 19.

A refreshing, unique take on the usual yuletide album, Home for the Holidays finds Hamilton’s warm voice spinning cool takes on classics (“Little Drummer Boy,” “The Christmas Song” with Chaka Khan), funky covers (James Brown’s “Santa Clause Go Straight to the Ghetto”) and traditional standards (a blues-riffing “Away in a Manger” featuring ZZ Ward). Hamilton, who collaborated with producers the Avila Brothers and longtime colleague Kelvin Wooten, also co-wrote six original songs highlighted by the title track featuring Gavin DeGraw and the festive “Spend Christmas With You.”

“I wanted to capture the essence of the old classics and build an attraction for the modern-day listener,” says Hamilton of Home.

That’s the same creative inspiration he tapped in covering "As" with Ambrosius for director Malcolm Lee’s 2013 film The Best Man Holiday. The duet netted Hamilton a current Grammy nomination in the same category he won in 2009 as a guest on Al Green’s "You’ve Got the Love I Need."

"I just allowed me to be me and followed what I thought would put a smile on Stevie’s heart and ears," says Hamilton of recording the Wonder classic. "Marsha and I let the song live."

An air date hasn't been slated yet for Hamilton's guest stint—playing himself—on Empire. And there's no release date or title set for Hamilton’s next studio album. But his collaborator wish list includes Pharrell Williams, Raphael Saadiq and Kanye West, among others, with a focus on "bringing out elements of my voice and personality that people have missed."

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