On November 15, Ann, Deborah, Freda, and Regina McCrary - collectively known as The McCrary Sisters - will release A Very McCrary Christmas. The album, co-produced with three-time GRAMMY winner Scott Billington, is a stunning collection of 13 sacred songs - 12 traditional hymns and one new composition - featuring arrangements that reflect the quartet's soulful Southern roots.
The album was inspired by the Sisters' annual A McCrary Kind of Christmas concert in Nashville. Now in its tenth year, the concert benefits local families as well as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Just like these annual concerts, A Very McCrary Christmas highlights the sisters' favorite holiday songs, delivered with reverence and exuberance.
The group's spirited, soulful renditions of classic Christmas songs like "Go Tell It On the Mountain," "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful," "Away In a Manger," "O Holy Night," "What Child Is This?," and "Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child" are infused with elements of Southern gospel, R&B, pop, and jazz, and convey the infectious joy the sisters derive from their deep faith.
"My prayer, when it comes to this record, is that every song will bring some kind of hope and love," says Regina McCrary. "I want it to set people free, and I want it to give them love and joy and peace and hope - and to be able to heal. That's what this record is all about for me."
Ann McCrary concurs. "These songs stir me up," she says, "and they do bring back a feel of the reason for the season. Some people will hear the songs that they listened to when they were little, and it's going to bring that excitement of Christmas back to them."
A number of special guests make appearances on the album, including Pastor Shirley Caesar, Steve Crawford, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Buddy Miller, and Keb' Mo'. The McCrary Sisters can be heard individually throughout the songs, yet it's the power of all four voices together that makes the album shine.
"We wanted it different, right off the bat," says Freda McCrary. "We said we want to do traditional songs, but with a different feel. You would have never thought that was the way 'Away in a Manger' was going to go - or any of these songs. But all of them have a different flavor on it - I guess we can call it the McCrary flavor. And everybody has input. Everybody. Not just one person."
The McCrarys grew up in Nashville as the children of Reverend Samuel H. McCrary, who raised a large family while balancing his roles as a preacher and a performer. As an original member of the Fairfield Four, he instilled a musical education into four sons and four daughters.
"We grew up on traditional gospel music in the church, but we like all different music," says Deborah McCrary. "We don't like only gospel. We were allowed to listen to any kind of music we wanted to."
Those diverse influences are on full display in the McCrary Sisters' spirited concerts and stirring recordings, which have earned them a loyal and passionate following over the last decade. But they are also renowned for their memorable contributions - both individually and as a group - to recordings and performances by a remarkable array of artists including Bob Dylan, Mary Gauthier, Buddy Guy, Isaac Hayes, Dr. John, Buddy Miller, Elvis Presley, Margo Price, Carrie Underwood, and Stevie Wonder.
Ann McCrary reflects, "I always say one of the greatest gifts to me is to be able to see people's faces light up when we sing. That I feel like they are receiving. They're receiving something from us that's going to make them feel better about any situation that's going on. So, with this Christmas CD, I just hope people will feel better. Feel good. Pat their feet, and jump a little bit. And shake it. That makes it good."
A Very McCrary Christmas Track List
- Go Tell It on the Mountain
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel - featuring Alison Krauss
- O, Come, All Ye Faithful - featuring Steve Crawford
- O Holy Night
- Children Go Where I Send Thee
- Away in a Manger - featuring Jerry Douglas and Keb' Mo'
- Joy to the World
- What Child Is This? - featuring Buddy Miller
- No Room at the Inn
- Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child
- Silent Night
- Joyful, Joyful - featuring Pastor Shirley Caesa
- Here I Am Lord, Send Me (composed by Regina McCrary and Max Tash)