Independent recording artist Luanne Hunt joined the ranks of legendary country stars this week when her song "Christmas Without You" landed on two popular Internet publications' "Best of Holiday Songs" lists.
The first, Truckers News, provides the No. 1 mobile app for truck drivers across the U.S. The second, the award-winning Autostraddle, has a readership of 2.5 million per month.
"To be the only Indie artist on those lists feels like an amazing accomplishment," said Hunt, who has recorded 13 studio CDs on the Star Creek Entertainment label. "It's validation that all the hard work I've put into my music has paid off."
Hunt's "Christmas Without You" was originally written for legendary country singer Patsy Cline by Lawton Jiles and Charles (Buster) Beam in 1960. According to Jiles, Patsy never had the opportunity to record it the way it was originally intended and was heartbroken she was unable to give her fans a signature Christmas song.
"I've always believed if Patsy would have recorded 'Christmas Without You' it would have become a holiday standard," said Jiles, who also has written songs for Hunt, Porter Wagoner and Janie Fricke. "It's the kind of Christmas song you hear once and want to sing along. It's very simple, but the simple songs are usually the ones people love the most. I'm not surprised Luanne's version is doing so well."
Since its release, "Christmas Without You" has racked up a number of impressive accolades, including topping the European Country Music Association chart in France, Denmark and Austria in December of 2011. It also was the second most played song in Europe that month and has frequently made the Top 10 list on the popular Sounds of Christmas Internet radio station.
"I got a rush when I first heard Luanne's recording of 'Christmas Without You,'" said Jiles, a friend and colleague of Hunt's. "The song's been in my head for years and to hear it done the way I always envisioned it is very exciting. It's a perfect blend of the traditional and contemporary."
"Christmas Without You" was produced by Eric Uglum (Alison Krauss, Ron Block, Ralph Stanley, Cherryholmes and Nickel Creek). It features an impressive twin-fiddle performance by folk/bluegrass fiddle sensation Christian Ward, who has shared the stage with Ricky Skaggs and has toured with Rounder Records artist Sierra Hull. Also on the single are Austin Ward (upright bass), Roger Gillespie (drums), Hal Ratliff (keyboards) and Uglum (guitar, mandolin and harmony vocals).
"I'll never forget the day I recorded Patsy's lost Christmas song," said Hunt, whose songs in recent years have frequently topped the European country music charts. "I was standing there at the studio mic hoping that she (Patsy) was smiling down on me. I know her version would have been phenomenal, but I hope her fans will accept my recording and see it mostly as a tribute to one of the greatest country artists there ever was or ever will be."
"Christmas Without You" is included on Hunt's critically-acclaimed EP, "How Christmas Feels To Me." It is available for a free download at http://www.luannehunt.com.