Acclaimed singer/songwriter and speaker Billy Ballenger has just released his three-song Christmas EP All Year, which is now available. The three-song EP was produced by Riley Friesen and features the message-driven title-cut as well as two new interpretations of Michael Card's Christmas classic, "Joseph's Song."
Co-written by Ballenger and Friesen, "All Year" is a joyful pop anthem showcasing the heart of the Gospel: "Every laugh, every smile when we celebrate/is a love that's a gift that we all can take/when we find out that Jesus is here all year." Understanding that Christmas is more than a holiday, Ballenger hopes the song will encourage listeners facing troubled times-no matter the season.
We are honored to catch up with Billy for this exclusive interview.
Q: Billy, thanks for doing this interview with us. Congratulations on the release of your new Christmas EP, why did you decide to record Christmas music?
Thank you, and I appreciate this opportunity to share. I have loved Christmas music since childhood. For the last few years, it's been on my heart to record and release some Christmas songs, but another year would go by, and I'd miss the opportunity. Finally, back in September I went into the studio and came out with this project-something I'm very excited about.
Q: What is the song "All Year" about? How did the song come about?
We started with the concept of how some people brighten up and catch the Christmas spirit easily during the holidays. It's like they can turn the joy on and off at will, simply because it's that time of year again. We also discussed those who are broken or struggling-people living hard lives-and how they must view Christmas "joy" from the outside looking in. Do they even understand it? Do they know they could have it they wanted to? And we talked about how some people just don't like Christmas in general. But as the day progressed, the idea of writing about the real "reason for the season" became apparent as the right thing to do. We didn't want to use language that seemed "churchy," but we wanted to be relatable. In the end, the goal for us in writing the song was to let everyone to know-regardless of how they feel about the Christmas season-that true Christmas Joy is always available because Jesus is here "all year."
Q: Why did you decide to record Michael Card's "Joseph's Song"?
I performed this song on a Christmas tour back in the early 2000s and would sing it while my son was seated on stage next to me. He was only 11 years old at the time. The message of this song is deep, and it's powerfully communicated by Michael Card. It speaks directly to the awesome situation Joseph found himself in as the father of God's Son. In Joseph's case, the pressure to get it right as a father was greatly magnified!
Q: Speaking about Christmas, what does Christmas mean to you?
JOY!! There has always been something unexplainable about the joy that can be felt this time of year. It's like it's in the air. It's the celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus, and joy abounds because God expressed His love for us by sending His Son. in turn, we express our love to one another through giving. I believe that touches God's heart.
Q: How do you and your family normally celebrate Christmas?
We travel a lot. We like dinners, specialty coffees, going to look at Christmas lights, and watching traditional Christmas movies like "Rudolph," "It's a Wonderful Life," "Elf," and even "The Grinch." We will have all our children and grandkids over, plus other relatives and there will be food, presents, laughter and joy. Most people don't realize we have lots of grandchildren because my wife, Jodie, and I were married very young.
Q: What are your plans and dreams for 2023?
I hope to travel more with my wife. We both love the beach, so spending time where it's warm is definitely on our list. I am planning another 30 City tour in 2023, recording more music, and letting God lead our hearts to what's next. It's always an adventure.