Christmas has come early for Mary J. Blige fans. On October 15th, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul will release her very first holiday album, A Mary Christmas. The 12-song album features the usual classics and even a few unexpected, but much appreciated, duets.
ESSENCE.com caught up with Blige to get the details on the new project and her favorite holiday traditions and memories.
ESSENCE.com: Why decide to make a Christmas album now?
MARY J. BLIGE: It's something that someone brought to my attention from the label. It's something I've always wanted to do and I went with it. It's perfect timing.
ESSENCE.com: Were you at all afraid to touch the Christmas classics we've come to admire and really cherish over the years?
BLIGE: No, because my goal was to not completely restructure them, but to give you exactly what we love so much about it. And to give it to you the way I would give it to you. Just a rendition of it. I was definitely not trying to make hip-hop soul Christmas songs or some club music Christmas songs. I'm just like everyone else, I don't like when people take the nostalgia out of the classics. I didn't want to mess up. So I just gave you my version of the Christmas songs.
ESSENCE.com: Do you have a favorite childhood Christmas memory?
BLIGE: I have so many childhood Christmas memories. My sister and I really wanted this doll by the name of Dancerella. We would scream and yell every time we saw it on a commercial. My mom surprised us with it. I was seven years old and that made me really, really happy.
ESSENCE.com: Do you have any childhood traditions you continue with your husband?
BLIGE: The decorating of the Christmas tree—I try do that myself or be a part of it. Also, playing Christmas songs and having my sister make eggnog and sweet potato pie. That part we keep the same.
ESSENCE.com: What's the best non-materialistic gift you've ever received?
BLIGE: Reconnecting with my father. I hadn't seen him for a long time. Our reconnecting was a surprise. I didn't know he was going to be at this particular place and when I got there I got the chance to see my father after 27 years.