Debbie Gibson, Sam Hunt Share the Best Christmas Presents They’ve Received

’Tis the season for giving and receiving. For many musicians, a love of music and a future career path was inspired by one thoughtful Christmas gift. Artists like Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor, Phil Vassar, Ayron Jones, and Landon Parker vividly recall the first album or instrument they received as a child at Christmas.

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“It was the beginning of a lifelong appreciation of rock ‘n’ roll music and the first glimmer of my own future as an aspiring songwriter,” Secor says of his first Bob Dylan album.

One Christmas gift even found its way into Debbie Gibson’s “Jingle Those Bells,” a song featured on her debut holiday album, Winterlicious, released in October. Sam Hunt’s childhood Christmases were a little different as he fondly remembers receiving farm animals each year. Some of those animals are even featured in the music video for his new song “Start Nowhere.”

American Songwriter talked with countless artists to learn the stories behind the best Christmas gifts they’ve received. Read below to learn favorite presents from Pentatonix, Alana Springsteen, the White Buffalo, Guitar Gabby, and more.

Alana Springsteen:

“I’ve always loved musicals. I grew up watching Oklahoma!The Sound of Music, and a bunch of others, but The Phantom of the Opera has always been my favorite. One Christmas, my nana surprised me with tickets to go see the live production of The Phantom of the Opera. It was my first time seeing a musical live and it brought it to life in a whole new way for me. Such a special time!” 

Ayron Jones:

“The best Christmas gift I’ve ever received was when I was 13 years old. My auntie picked up on my new-found obsession with guitar, and she went and got me my first electric guitar and amp. They used to call it the Strat Pack, a squire affinity Stratocaster with a solid-state champ 25-watt amp. It was life-changing, to say the least.”

Deana Carter:

“One of my favorite presents that I ever received as a little girl was when I fell asleep in my parents’ bed on Christmas Eve and woke up on Christmas morning to my parents telling me to go to my room and get ready for Christmas breakfast. When I got to my room… ‘Santa’ had COMPLETELY transformed my bedroom into a princess fairytale world, complete with a canopy bed, matching dresser, and all of the accouterments! I stayed in my room the entire Christmas Day!”

Debbie Gibson:

“Getting a green skateboard! I even reference it in my original ‘Jingle Those Bells!’ It symbolized me being one of the big girls because my older sisters always looked so cool skateboarding and sitting on the curb with boys!”

Guitar Gabby:

“The Christmas that my parents got me and my sister a miniature car and an art desk. I loved that art desk so much; it literally gave me an escape when I was trying to figure myself out. I did everything at that desk; from arts and crafts to building model cars with my dad. It was a memory that will forever stick with me.

“Outside of the art desk, I would say the best gift I have been given is my Mac desktop. Outside of playing guitar, I do a ton of work on the computer, so the need to be efficient in my work is necessary. Having this desktop has honestly been a game-changer for me.”

Landon Parker:

“The best present I’ve ever received is my little girl. I couldn’t ask for a better gift from God. But as far as an actual gift, I’d say my first guitar my dad bought me when I was 15. I wouldn’t be doing music if it wasn’t for that.” 

Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor:

“Christmas age 12 I opened my first Bob Dylan album, Infidels on CD. It was the beginning of a lifelong appreciation of rock ‘n’ roll music and the first glimmer of my own future as an aspiring songwriter.”

Pentatonix’s Kirstin Maldonado:

“We always tell each other that our holiday gift to each other is that we all get to come home and rest and be with our family because obviously Christmas time is the busiest time of the year for us and we’re constantly touring. Kevin’s [Olusola] daughter has already had her first Christmas, but I’m very excited and looking forward to this Christmas and having memories of my family and her.”

Pentatonix’s Matt Sallee:

“The biggest gift for me is that I have officially converted my family to loving TikTok, so any type of trend or game or singing thing that comes along it just becomes an event. It’s like, ‘Now it’s time for the TikTok.’ And my mom just starts crying laughing every time we’re making it. My nephews are obsessed, and it just becomes such a fun event like opening presents and it’s really fun.”

Phil Vassar:

“Drum kit when I was 10.”

Sam Hunt:

“I don’t know if this was my dad’s doing or us kids, we were just fascinated with farm animals. We got farm animals for Christmas for a lot of years. We had a little place close to the house where we kept our horses and cows and goats and all kinds of animals. We got a dairy cow. One year I was really into bull-riding, and we got a young bull calf.

“Of course, for the Santa Claus experience, my dad put them in a dog pen. So going outside and seeing a calf out in the dog pen and sometimes making lots of racket – which I’m sure the neighbors appreciated – was really exciting for us as kids. Obviously, a little calf couldn’t be in our living room where the other Christmas presents were happening, but there’d be a bag of feed over in the corner or something like that. That was sort of our little clue so we got to where we would look for things like that to make sure there wasn’t a new farm animal out in the dog pen.”

The White Buffalo’s Jake Smith:

“Probably the original Nintendo. That was like my first gaming system and my parents were kind of anti, so it was quite a surprise.”

(Photo by Nick Spanos/Courtesy of Shore Fire Media)

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