Contemporary Christian Music band We The Kingdom — known for their Billboard Christian Airplay chart-toppers “Holy Water” and “God So Loved” — will ring in the holiday season with the six-song EP A Family Christmas, which is due out on Friday (Oct. 22).
The project’s name is appropriate, given that the band includes hit CCM producer/songwriter Ed Cash, his children Franni Rae and Martin Cash, his brother Scott and family friend Andrew Bergthold.
In 2020, soon after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the band off tour, they crafted their full-length debut album August 2020’s Holy Water. They also picked up a new artist of the year honor at last year’s GMA Dove Awards; this year, the group is nominated for contemporary christian artist of the year, pop contemporary album of the year (for Holy Water), and worship recorded song of the year (for “God So Loved”).
Franni says the new EP’s opener, “Still Can’t Sleep on Christmas Eve,” has been a holiday anthem in their family for the past decade.
“Most of these songs we’ve written together recently, but that one kind of kick started it way back when,” she tells Billboard. “It’s been really sweet to now get to kind of see that whole picture become even more completed.”
As with their album Holy Water, the band members returned to Ed Cash’s home studio to record the new EP. “It’s funny because with Christmas songs, you know, it’s hard to get into the spirit of Christmas in the middle of the heat of July, but most of the records I’ve ever worked on that are Christmas records get recorded somewhere between May and July,” says Ed, who adds they decorated the studio with a small Christmas tree and other holiday accoutrements.
“Our studio is in the basement of my house and literally all of the Christmas stuff we store shares a closet with a lot of guitar cases and music equipment. So that made things easy,” he adds.
Dante Bowe and Maverick City Music join on “Silent Night (Heavenly Peace),” while the album also includes “Christmas Day,” a collaboration with Chris Tomlin, which was included on Tomlin’s September release Emmanuel: Christmas Songs of Worship (which was produced by Ed Cash).
“He’s such a true soul and a great carrier of songs,” Bergthold says of Tomlin. “I think he’s one of the best songwriters of our generation without a doubt. I also love that even though he didn’t write this song, there have been certain songs in his career that he’s been a champion for. I love that he’s sort of open-handed about all of that. Its says a lot about his heart and he’s taught us a lot. I’m just honored to have his support and get to work with him.”
Making an album of uplifting, inspirational music also took on a deeper emotional resonance.
“Christmas 2020 was the most emotional Christmas I’ve ever had because we lost our father,” Ed Cash says. “He had been battling dementia. I got to spend Christmas with him in the mountains and it was so bittersweet, because on one hand, he was passing away but we were also with him in his room, singing songs as a whole family, like all 25 of us in the bedroom at their place in the mountains. We had a white Christmas, it was dreamy and we were laughing, crying and everything in between. I love the lightness of a song like ‘Still Can’t Sleep on Christmas Eve’ because Christmas can be such a heavy time for a lot of people.
“I think for us to have songs like ‘Glorious’ and ‘Silent Night’ on there, we wanted lightheartedness and reverence,” Ed adds.
We The Kingdom are currently on the road with Zach Williams and working on songs for a new project.
“For the first time, we’re making a record while on the road, writing and trying to do production. It’s been wild. It’s been exhausting, honestly,” Ed says. “Super fun, super hard, it’s a lot of paradoxes. We kind of started working on another project right away. We’re always getting caught up and in just like the spirit of creativity. We’ve written a host of songs that we love and that’s always the starting point.”
The band’s members hope A Family Christmas is just the beginning of a series of holiday-related ventures. “We have a vision over the next several years to keep writing Christmas music and include new versions of traditional songs, and then have a Christmas concert series,” Ed says. “We’re trying to build that.”