For more than thirty years, Kenny Rogers has spent his winters on the road, singing a mix of carols, originals and holiday-friendly staples during his annual Christmas & Hits tour. He’ll have more material to choose from this year, thanks to a new album, Once Again It’s Christmas, that hits stores September 25th.
Co-produced by Kyle Lehning and Warren Hartman, Once Again It’s Christmas rolls out the expected spread of holiday fare. There are carols (“Little Drummer Boy”), standards (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”) and originals (“The Light”), along with a guest list of duet partners. Alison Krauss lends her harmonies to “Some Children See Him,” previously covered by James Taylor, while Jennifer Nettles joins Rogers during a medley of “Here It Is Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Other guests include Jim Brickman, a cappella group (and recent Sing-Off champs) Home Free and sibling duo Winfield’s Locket.
Seasonal albums aren’t exactly a new thing for Rogers, whose catalog already includes five holiday releases. Among those is 1984’s Once Upon a Christmas, a collaboration with Dolly Parton that sold a surprising two million copies, thanks to an accompanying Christmas television special that aired on CBS. Meanwhile, his yearly Christmas & Hits shows date all the way back to 1981, when Rogers recorded his first holiday collection — the bluntly titled Christmas — and hit the road to promote its release. He hasn’t missed a single year since then, although the format of his Christmas & Hits setlist changes from season to season, with last year’s shows featuring Rogers’ holiday songs and original tunes split into separate halves.
The 34th annual Christmas & Hits tour kicks off November 11th with a four-night stand in Niagara Falls, then runs through December 23rd.