On paper, Carrie Underwood and pop superstar John Legend teaming for a song titled "Hallelujah" reads like another Leonard Cohen tribute waiting to happen. If you jumped to that assumption, your next thought might've been a confused "What's that song got to do with Christmas?" or a heartfelt "Thanks, Shrek!"
Instead, it's a new song, written by Toby Gad and John Stephens and suggested by Legend to Underwood and My Gift producer Greg Wells. Its inclusion ups the album's star power while adding something fresh to a project anchored by a version of "Little Drummer Boy" featuring Underwood's son Isaiah.
The song's music video debuted on Nov. 19, and it shows the duo performing in a winter wonderland with only the doves of peace as company. Just a few weeks later, the song reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart for the week of Dec. 26, knocking Underwood's "Favorite Time of Year" off the top spot.
Underwood quickly knew that "Hallelujah" would fit her Christmas album, especially if it led to a duet with Legend, an 11-time Grammy award-winner.
"I was deep into making the album, and this one kind of came in. He sent it to us kind of at the end," the country music star said on an episode of Today's Country Radio With Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country. "It was like, 'Well, I love the song. I feel like this is a puzzle piece I didn't know was missing, but now that I've heard it, I have to have it. And so we just put the ask back, 'Thank you for sending, do you want to sing a part with me, too?'"
Wells also brought invaluable experience and star power to Underwood's first full-length Christmas album. He's written and produced high-charting singles by Celine Dion, Keith Urban and P!nk.
"I've always wanted to make a Christmas album and it's been a long time coming," Underwood said in press statement. "I knew this would be my next music project after wrapping my tour last year, and I think it's turned out to be the perfect time for an album like this, in this period of such personal and spiritual reflection. For me, it's more important than ever to focus on the true meaning of Christmas in a project like this. Even though it has been a tough year for all of us, sometimes I feel like the greatest realizations can be inspired by the most difficult times, and make us more grateful for the things we do have and for what truly matters."
Underwood, the ACM Awards' reigning co-Entertainer of the Year, created the new album during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
My Gift Track List
- "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"
- "O Come All Ye Faithful"
- "Let There Be Peace"
- "Little Drummer Boy" feat. Isaiah Fisher
- "Sweet Baby Jesus"
- "Hallelujah" with John Legend
- "O Holy Night"
- "Mary, Did You Know?"
- "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
- "Away in a Manger"
- "Silent Night"