Jamie O'Neal is preparing to release her first-ever full-length Christmas project, and she's sharing one of the key tracks with Taste of Country readers in advance. The country hitmaker invited members of her family to participate in recording her new rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear," which premieres exclusively via Taste of Country on Thursday (Oct. 20).

As so often happens with Christmas projects, O'Neal actually recorded the track during warm weather, and she tells Taste of Country she "decorated up the studio on a hot July day" to get into the spirit of the song.

"I recorded my vocals first. Then later added my dad, my sister Melissa and my daughter," she shares. "It was so much fun coming up with ideas together, trying new things, etc. I must say I teared up a time or two. Christmas music can do that to you."

The singer, who shot to fame with back-to-back No. 1 singles "There Is No Arizona" and "When I Think About Angels" after releasing her debut solo album, Shiver, in 2000, feels that the Christmas song's message is especially relevant, given the current state of the world.

"Originally, the song was written as a plea for peace during the Cuban missile crisis," she tells us, "and I can’t think of a more fitting time to send that message out into the world again than right now."

O'Neal's version of "Do You Hear What I Hear" appears on her upcoming Christmas album, Spirit & Joy, which she is set to release on Friday (Oct. 21). The multiple Grammy-nominated artist co-produced the project alongside her husband, Rodney Good, and she co-wrote three of the songs; "Christmas You," "Gulf of Mexico" and "You Were Christmas to Me."

The rest of the tracks consist of holiday favorites, with Good joining his wife on "Please Come Home for Christmas," while O'Neal's father Jimmy Murphy, sister Melissa Murphy and daughter Aliyah Good appear on "Do You Hear What I Hear." Collin Raye also joins O'Neal for "Silver Bells."

The album is more than just another holiday collection. O'Neal hopes to reach out to those who are experiencing loss during the holidays after her own family suffered a devastating loss in 2021.

"We lost my sister Sam to suicide last year, and the shock, pain and grief was overwhelming," she shares. "We really banded together to get through it, and I think we were reminded daily how precious family is and how none of us are promised another day. We lean on each other during these tragic times. But knowing some people isolate when they’re hurting, I hope friends will check in on friends to see if they’re okay."

"I really hope this album moves people," she adds, "makes them think of their own loved ones whom they’ve lost, and I hope some of the classics make them sing along and celebrate the wonderful season that is almost upon us!"

Jamie O'Neal's Spirit & Joy is currently available for pre-save and pre-order across a wide variety of digital music providers.

Angela Talley

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