Carrie Underwood adopted a low-stakes, low-pressure approach to writing original material for her 2020 Christmas album, My Gift.
It wasn’t as if she had to come up with great original material in order to have a full-fledged album, the singer pointed out in a recent virtual press event. There’s already legions of beloved classic holiday songs, such as “Silent Night” and “Away in a Manger.”
“If we can add something, that’s the most important thing — add pieces to the puzzle,” Underwood explains of her mindset going into writing new music for the project. “You do want the traditional Christmas songs, but it’s nice to have new things, to have something new to offer.”
Underwood and her co-writers, David Garcia and Brett James, struck gold the day they wrote “Sweet Baby Jesus,” one of the two original songs they wrote for the project. (“Hallelujah” is also a new track, which Underwood’s duet partner John Legend brought to the table.)
“That was just kind of a magical day,” Underwood recalls, adding that it got even more magical after she played it for her mom.
“I knew I was really on to something special when I let my mom hear it and she was like, ‘Well, that’s just a Christmas song, right?’ She had no idea that we wrote it,” the singer goes on to say. “And that made me really happy because I’m like, ‘Wow, it feels familiar to you — which is good, when you think about Christmas songs.'”
For the other song she co-wrote on My Gift, “Let There Be Peace,” the superstar opted to work with James and Garcia again, since they were such familiar colleagues to her. “I only chose people to write with that I was super comfortable with because we were writing on Zoom, which is not ideal,” she points out. “I know them really well and nobody was gonna, you know, laugh at each other or be annoyed when it got frozen on our faces.”
The results, she goes on to say, were good contributions to her already-selected lineup of holiday classics.
“‘Let There Be Peace’ was just kind of a fan jam, so joyous,” Underwood explains. “And made you just wanna dance a little bit and sway to it. So we just wanted to see if we could contribute to what we had already going, without any pressure.”
My Gift, Underwood’s first-ever Christmas album, came out in late September. In addition to the originals she contributed to the project and her duet with Legend, it also includes a duet with her 5-year-old son, Isaiah, on “Little Drummer Boy.“