It's hard to write a song great enough to alter the rarely changing list of Christmas standards, but Christian vocalist and comedian Mark Lowry did just that with harmonica master Buddy Greene when they wrote "Mary, Did You Know?" in 1991.
The pair's take on the reason for the season gained steam over the years through emotional recordings by Michael English, the Gaither Vocal Band, Cee Lo Green, Reba McEntire, Pentatonix and duet partners Wynonna Judd and Willie Nelson.
Add Dolly Parton to that list now that her version's out there as a teaser of new album A Holly Dolly Christmas, which is a play on Burl Ives' own disruption of the holiday songbook status quo, "Holly Jolly Christmas."
"'Mary, Did You Know?' is one of the greatest, sweetest, well-written songs that I've ever had the chance to sing on," says Parton in a press release. "When I was recording it, I got very emotional. It is to me what Christmas is about and I'm proud to be able to sing it for my upcoming album."
This gorgeous, orchestral rendition reminds us that Parton's personal faith informs her business decisions, her benevolence during the COVID-19 pandemic and her recent comments on the Black Lives Matter movement. Plus, country music and Christian music's always gone together like homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, especially during holiday album season.
Parton's upcoming Christmas album includes guest appearances by longtime friends Nelson and Billy Ray Cyrus, goddaughter Miley Cyrus and comedian Jimmy Fallon. It arrives on Oct. 2.
It's Parton's first collection of Christmas songs since 1990's Home for Christmas, which earned gold record status despite stalling at No. 74 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.
Holly Dolly Christmas Track Listing
- "Holly Jolly Christmas"
- "Christmas Is" (feat. Miley Cyrus)
- "Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas" (with Michael Bublé)
- "Christmas On The Square"
- "Circle Of Love"
- "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (with Jimmy Fallon)
- "Comin' Home For Christmas"
- "Christmas Where We Are" (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus)
- "Pretty Paper" (with Willie Nelson)
- "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
- "You Are My Christmas" (feat. Randy Parton)
- "Mary, Did You Know?"