David Phelps

Christian vocalist David Phelps brings his “It Must Be Christmas” tour to his former hometown, performing Dec. 13 in Waco.

Christian singer David Phelps revisits his Waco hometown this month with Christmas on his mind, but maybe even more so this year.

Phelps will perform his popular Christmas concert Dec. 13 at First Baptist Church of Woodway, returning seven years after his last Christmas show in Waco. This time, it’s part of his “It Must Be Christmas” tour, which, in turn celebrates two decades of Christmas-ing.

“This is our 20th annual Christmas tour and we thought we’d record a Christmas album for that,” he said. The album blends long-time favorites with new songs from Phelps, including the title track, and showcases the remarkable voice that made him a star with the nationally known Gaither Vocal Band.

“It’s a tip of the hat to Sinatra and the torch songs of Tony Bennett. Tony Bennett was a huge role model for me,” he said. “It Must Be Christmas” also was recorded live in the studio, which gives it an extra edge, he noted. “We had to make sure we were all on our game,” he said.

Phelps graduated from Baylor University in 1992 and started a singing career that took off five years later when he joined the southern gospel group the Gaither Vocal Band, led by Christian music icon Bill Gaither. During his years with the ensemble, 1997-2006 then 2009-2017, the Gaither Vocal Band tallied multiple Grammy and Dove Awards.

Performing again as a solo artist, Phelps says he has plenty to keep him busy. There are 2017 projects “Hymnal” and children’s book/song “Santa Claus Get Well Soon,” this year’s “It Must Be Christmas” and, on the horizon, the video production for “Hymnal” and an international tour.

“We’re so pleased to come back to Waco. It’s one of our hometowns and we have such great memories there,” he said. Phelps, in fact, is bringing one of those Waco memories, his 24-year-old Waco-born daughter Maggie Beth, who will join daughter Callie, 21, in the Christmas concert. Rounding out the family connection is sister Sherri, who plays trumpet and will be in the band.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor