Video of Aretha Franklin’s stunning solo piano rendition of the yuletide classic “O Tannenbaum” —performed in 2015 at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center — has been released for the first time.
The Queen of Soul served as surprise guest at the Wynton Marsalis-led 2015 Big Band Holidays concert, where she sang the seasonal favorite both in English and its traditional German. The rendition is a highlight on the recently released Big Band Holidays II compilation, featuring selections from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’ annual Christmas shows.
NPR Music, which debuted the “O Tannenbaum” video Wednesday, notes that Franklin previously performed the song at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1994 and recorded it, alongside an orchestra, for the A Very Special Christmas 2 benefit compilation; however, Franklin did not include her “O Tannenbaum” on her own 2008 seasonal album This Christmas Aretha.
“O Tannenbaum” marks one of a handful of previously unreleased Franklin songs to be unveiled since the Queen of Soul’s death in August 2018.