Dolly Parton is releasing a new holiday album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, on Oct. 2, and the country legend shared the first taste of music from the project on Friday with the release of her version of "Mary, Did You Know?" "I got very emotional recording 'Mary, Did You Know?'" Parton tweeted on Tuesday. "It’s about beautiful things being born out of unexpected situations. I hope it touches you the same way it did me."
Parton's version of "Mary, Did You Know?" starts off folk-tinged and acoustic, beginning with only Parton and a guitar before she is joined by strings, percussion and a gospel choir, the conclusion swelling to glorious heights. The 74-year-old's airy voice floats through the classic song as she asks Mary about her newborn son, almost whispering as she delivers the titular line. She also delivers a spoken voice, intoning, "Mary, if you knew, how wonderful for you that he'd choose you to bring to us the king of kings / God bless you, Mary."
A Holly Dolly Christmas was produced by Kent Wells and will feature holiday standards and new materials as well as duets between Parton and Michael Bublé, Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jimmy Fallon, Willie Nelson and Parton's brother Randy Parton.
"We were working in our little circle with our masks and with our gloves and we had our engineer and we just had the very few people that we had to have when we were in there when I was singing," Parton told Billboard of recording during the coronavirus pandemic. "They had done some of the tracks before the pandemic, but then we went in and started doing our vocals. We've been very smart, very careful, because we're trying to protect ourselves and I'm an older person. I'm not out to get it if I don’t [have] to, I'm hoping I can outrun all that. We've been all very, very smart, but it didn't slow us up."
The Tennessee native added that she named her project after a classic holiday tune. "I thought, 'I think I'll call it A Holly Dolly Christmas because I love the song 'A Holly Jolly Christmas' with Burl Ives," she said. "He used to be on all of my Christmas specials all through the years. I think of him as Mr. Christmas. I thought, 'Why don't do I call it something cute and clever, like that or Deck the Halls with Boughs of Dolly, something corny like that.'" Pre-order A Holly Dolly Christmas here and stream "Mary, Did You Know?" here.