Every holiday season brings the release of new music collections and 2013 is not different.
“A Mary Christmas,” is Mary J. Blige’s first holiday release and home to a dozen pop standards, including a jazzy version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” But Blige doesn’t just scat and swing her way through this collection of holiday classics. There is also some smooth singing on a duet with Barbra Streisand on “When You Wish Upon A Star,” featuring trumpeter Chris Botti.
Jewel’s first holiday album, “Joy,” came out in 1999 and has sold over a million copies. She says her new one, “Let It Snow,” has the same spirit as the first. There are two original songs on the new collection, with the covers including “Silver Bells,” and “Sleigh Ride.” There’s a lilting waltz or two, and Vince Gill adds his electric guitar to a country-rock take on “White Christmas.” The title track finds Jewel rocking a bit more than you might expect.
Johnny Mathis is back with his first holiday collection in years -- it’s called “Sending You A Little Christmas.” The 78-year old crooner sings with a number of special guests on this one, including Susan Boyle, Billy Joel, and Gloria Estefan. His song with pianist Jim Brickman, “Sending You A Little Christmas” is a record breaker of sorts -- it’s Mathis’s 50th song to make it on to the Billboard AC chart. Only five other artists have hit that mark -- Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Elvis, and Barry Manilow.
Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped in Red” has a couple of originals mixed in with holiday favorites like “Blue Christmas,” “Run Run Rudolph” and “Please Come Home for Christmas.” There’s also a duet with country star Ronnie Dunn on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” But the highlight is the closing track, “Silent Night.” Joining Clarkson is her mother-in-law Reba McEntire along with Trisha Yearwood, and the trio ends the tune singing the last verse “a capella.”