Kenny Rogers knows we’re already halfway to Christmas: the Country Music Hall of Famer has announced the release of his first new holiday album in 17 years. Due this fall, Once Again It’s Christmas marks Rogers’ sixth seasonal LP and his first since 1998’s Christmas From the Heart.
Joining Rogers on the holiday project are Alison Krauss, who sang with the Gambler on his Number One single (with Billy Dean) “Buy Me a Rose,” in 1999. Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, who performed the iconic “Islands in the Stream” duet with Rogers at the 2013 CMA Awards, vocal group Home Free (who make their Grand Ole Opry debut this Friday, July 17th), pianist-songwriter Jim Brickman and sibling duo Winfield’s Locket also appear on the album.
“I can’t tell you how much fun it was recording a Christmas record again,” Rogers says in a statement. “I’m excited for people to hear it. I feel like this is a special group of songs — both old and new — and I was particularly lucky to be joined by many talented guest artists and musicians who each have something unique to say.”
Christmas has been an integral part of Rogers’ life on the road since 1981, when he released his first-ever holiday-themed LP, simply titled Christmas, which surpassed sales of two million and earned double-platinum status. The singer’s annual Christmas & Hits Tour is a 34-year tradition that will continue this winter. The concert trek, stretching across the U.S. and Canada, features Linda Davis and includes performances of holiday favorites along with some of the more than 20 Number One singles the country-pop crooner has enjoyed throughout his 50-plus-year career.
“Christmas is my favorite time of year,” Rogers says. “It’s a very important season for me, especially now that I have twin boys who just turned 11 years old. It’s reminded me of how you see it through different eyes when you’re a parent. It’s wonderful.”
Rogers’ Christmas collections, including Once Upon a Christmas, the 1984 duet album with Dolly Parton – which also sold more than two million copies – account for some of the more than 120 million albums he has sold worldwide in the past seven decades. Currently on tour, Rogers will perform in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this Thursday, before heading to Atlantic City on Friday.