A Holiday Music Spotlight: The Carpenters “Christmas Portrait”
Released in time for the holiday season in 1978, "Christmas Portrait" by The Carpenters is the album that reinvigorated the market for Christmas albums.
Although Christmas albums had been around since the beginning of recorded music, they started to fall out of favor after peaking in the 1950's and 1960's. During the early part of the 1970's, most record labels and artists seemed to shun the format - focusing instead on "regular" releases.
It took the combination of classic, long-forgotten Christmas favorites performed by one of the seminal acts of 1970's "pop" music to turn the tide.
The label hadn’t been keen on the idea of a Carpenters Christmas album in the first place. Christmas albums were viewed by many in the music industry in the 1970s as corny and old-fashioned. With a few exceptions (the Jackson 5 in 1970, John Denver in 1975), top pop stars of the ‘70s shied away from making Christmas albums.
The album was released on Oct. 13, 1978 and became an immediate hit. Its success helped to revive the market for Christmas albums, paving the way for best-sellers over the next several years by Willie Nelson, Anne Murray, and Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton.
Perhaps it was The Carpenters popularity that spiked sales, but it also might have been the combination of a classic voice performing songs that came from the cannon of Christmases-past.