Long forgotten Christmas song cheers local composers

When most people think about holiday songs, the usual suspects come to mind — “White Christmas,” “Silver Bells” and “Let it Snow.” Grammy and Emmy-winning composer Paul David Wilson, however, sings a different tune.

Wilson’s tune, “Funky, Funky Christmas, is a little-known track he composed with musician Charles “Chuck” Colbert, Jr., a founding member of the ‘70s soul band Rufus and member of American Breed.

Recorded in 1974 and all but forgotten, the 45 on the now dissolved Nike Records label of the ‘60s and early ‘70s, recently turned up overseas on a compilation album, “In The Christmas Groove.”

“When BMI called to tell me the song survived, I couldn’t believe it,” explained Wilson, who until he had a stroke several years ago, owned owned one of Chicago’s top spot-music studios for 20 years.

“If you want to dance, if you want to boogie, if you want to get down with the funk and have a nice time with Christmas, turn up ‘Funky, Funky Christmas,’” he urged.

Paul David WilsonSo how did such a danceable, infectious ditty about the most-beloved holiday turn up “‘Funky, Funky Christmas’ has to be one of the funkiest Christmas songs ever made,” said music investigator and historian, Red Kelly of Ask Soul.  “It’s a nice slab of Midwest funk. When I heard it, I had to know who these guys were.”

Doing a little digging, Kelly, founder of the website, “Soul Detective,” discovered that the track was available on a holiday compilation album released by UK label, Strut Records in 2009. Kelly contacted Strut owner, Quentin Scott, to learn who created this rare dance tune.

Needless to say, Wilson and Colbert were thrilled to hear that audiences are discovering “Funky, Funky Christmas” 45 years later.

“I was just 22 and out of college. I was working for Colbert, Jr. at Star Point 7, a music production company,” Wilson said. “I’m just happy the song has found its groove.

The two musicians, songwriters and producers continue with their respective music grooves. Colbert is currently recording a tribute anthem, “Armed Forces,” which he composed with Michael Logan, and also a music video about the armed forces from the Revolutionary War to the present.  

Wilson, currently scoring two documentaries and writing the title song for a play, has a BMI award, a Grammy and a Clio. He wrote “Calling me Home, Chicago” in 1985, which is regarded as a true classic Chicago song.

Wilson can be reached at 312/945-0610 and Colbert at 630/606-1916.

LA-based Colin Costello is a screenwriter whose credits include the Emmy-nominated PBS series, “Moochie Kalala Detective Club and 2016’s “Traveling without Moving” featuring Steve Guttenberg and Harry Lennix, Jr. Email: colin1@spamarrest.com.