When executives at Cracker Barrel asked Reba McEntire about adding a Christmas album to her Rockin' R by Reba retail line with the restaurant chain, it was an easy "yes" from the country icon. Turns out, she'd already recorded it.
"We were just messing around about five years ago and I said, 'Let's go down to the studio and record some Christmas songs," McEntire tells Rolling Stone Country of an impromptu recording session with pianist Catherine Marx. "So we did from 'Hard Candy Christmas' to 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' and just kept recording. Then five years later, Cracker Barrel says, 'We'd love to release a Christmas album on you.' Well, I just happen to have one!"
The album, My Kind of Christmas was released in Cracker Barrel stores and online today. Each track features simply McEntire on vocals and Marx on piano, without any other instrumentation. This is the singer's first holiday LP in 17 years, following 1999's Secret of Giving: A Christmas Collection.
McEntire shares with us the exclusive premiere of "Hard Candy Christmas" from the new album. [Listen below.] Written by Carol Hall, the hopeful, spine-tingling tune was originally recorded by Dolly Parton for the musical, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Parton's version reached the Top 10 on the country singles charts in the fall of 1982. "Hard Candy Christmas" has since been covered by a long list of artists, from June Carter Cash to RuPaul.