Entering his tenth season as a Belmont track and field coach, Joe Frye has a passion for the craft.
Once labeled as Belmont’s “athlete of the year” and Atlantic Sun Conference’s “most valuable performer” as a thrower, Frye quickly found joy in assisting Belmont’s next generation of talent.
But coaching is not his only passion.
Released on Nov. 25, Frye awed many with a 10-track Christmas album titled “Coffeehouse Christmas.”
The album comes as his second Christmas album in the past two years, following his seven-track debut “Home for Christmas” released in 2020.
As a Division I track and field coach, Frye finds comfort in music’s ability to help express himself outside the crazy world of athletics.
Many of his athletes, however, don’t even know about it.
“It serves as a great hobby to keep me grounded outside of athletics,” Frye said. “I try to keep the two pretty separated because it’s important to me that my student athletes see me as a coach. I understand how it can be a little strange because you don’t get these two together.”
Frye first came to Belmont as a student in 2006. He majored in music business with an emphasis in production.
As a student, Frye became one of the most decorated athletes in Belmont history, racking up several program records in both the weight throw and hammer throw categories.
He became more involved with athletics and was hired as a track and field coach shortly after his graduation in 2010.
But music remained a crucial part of his life.
“I still retained a strong desire to stay involved in the music industry in some respects,” Frye said. “That has normally manifested itself as collaboration projects with other musicians around town.”
For his latest project, Frye settled on a Christmas album – one of his favorite genres.
The album consists of mostly cover songs that would be familiar to most listeners, such as “Santa Baby,” “White Christmas” and “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
Frye named the album “Coffeehouse Christmas” because it fits the mood he wanted the album to have.
“I wanted to make an album that wasn’t too abrasive and could be very background style music,” Frye said. “My thought was, you’re sitting in a coffeehouse, and you don’t even hear it — but it’s there.”
Each singer featured on the album has a deep and personal connection to Frye, as they have either played or sang at Frye’s church in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Most of the featured artists have been friends of Frye’s since his days as a Belmont student — but some are even current students.
Sophomore Aniston Pate said she was delighted to be part of the experience.
“Joe asked me if I’d be open to singing a song on the record,” Pate said. “I was obviously over the moon and said yes without hesitation.”
The hard part was finding the perfect song, but Pate and Frye eventually landed on “Santa Baby.”
“Joe and I quickly talked through our favorite Christmas songs,” Pate said. “‘Santa Baby’ made the list and seemed to fit the sound of the album the best.”
For Pate, working on the album was fun since most of the other artists featured are good friends. Plus, Frye’s kindness made the process an even more enjoyable experience, Pate said.
“Joe and his family have been so kind to me since we met at church, and I’m glad to have worked with him,” Pate said. “I feel lucky to be a part of it all.”
Frye acknowledges that the singers on the album are incredibly talented but busy pursuing other projects, so he’s joyful they found the time to help create an album filled with holiday cheer.
“I’m really grateful that they all said yes and followed through with delivering a great performance into the mic,” Frye said. “At the end of the day, when it comes out of the speaker, you get happy, comfortable Christmas music sung by some really talented vocalists.”
Frye’s “Coffeehouse Christmas” is now available on all streaming platforms. This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer