A Very McCrary Christmas (Rounder)

The McCrary Sisters

Released in 2019

DownBeat Four-Star Review






A Very McCrary Christmas is the first holiday album by celebrated gospel quartet the McCrary Sisters, on Rounder Records. The album, co-produced with three-time GRAMMY winner Scott Billington, is a stunning collection of 13 sacred songs – 12 traditional hymns and one new composition – featuring arrangements that reflect the quartet’s soulful Southern roots.

The album features guest appearances by Pastor Shirley Caesar, Steve Crawford, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Buddy Miller, and Keb’ Mo’. The McCrary Sisters can be heard individually throughout the songs, yet it’s the power of all four voices together that makes the album shine.

A Very McCrary Christmas highlights the sisters’ favorite holiday songs, delivered with reverence and exuberance. The group’s spirited, soulful renditions of classic Christmas songs like “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Away In a Manger,” “O Holy Night,” “What Child Is This?,” and “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child” are infused with elements of Southern gospel, R&B, pop, and jazz, and convey the infectious joy the sisters derive from their deep faith. “We wanted it different, right off the bat,” says Freda McCrary. “We said we want to do traditional songs, but with a different feel. You would have never thought that was the way ‘Away in a Manger’ was going to go — or any of these songs. But all of them have a different flavor on it — I guess we can call it the McCrary flavor. And everybody has input. Everybody. Not just one person.”

The McCrarys grew up in Nashville as the children of Reverend Samuel H. McCrary, who raised a large family while balancing his roles as a preacher and a performer. As an original member of the Fairfield Four, he instilled a musical education into his four sons and four daughters. “We grew up on traditional gospel music in the church, but we like all different music,” says Deborah McCrary. “We don’t like only gospel. We were allowed to listen to any kind of music we wanted to.”

Those diverse influences are on full display in the McCrary Sisters’ spirited concerts and stirring recordings, which have earned them a loyal and passionate following over the last decade. But they are also renowned for their memorable contributions – both individually and as a group – to recordings and performances by a remarkable array of artists including Bob Dylan, Mary Gauthier, Buddy Guy, Isaac Hayes, Dr. John, Buddy Miller, Elvis Presley, Margo Price, Carrie Underwood, and Stevie Wonder.

On November 29, the McCrarys will kick off Deck the Hall, a full schedule of holiday activities at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, with a performance featuring selections from A Very McCrary Christmas. They will then light a thirty-foot Christmas tree in the museum’s Mike Curb Conservatory. After the performance and tree lighting, they will sign copies of their new CD in the museum store.

Now in its tenth year, the group’s annual holiday concert benefits local families as well as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A McCrary Kind of Christmas is scheduled to take place at Lipscomb University’s Collins Auditorium on Friday, December 6 at 7:00 PM. The McCrary Sisters will be joined by special guests including Etta Britt, Steve Crawford, Danny Flowers, the McCrary Family, Buddy Miller, and Lee Ann Womack.

“My prayer, when it comes to this record, is that every song will bring some kind of hope and love,” says Regina McCrary. “I want it to set people free, and I want it to give them love and joy and peace and hope — and to be able to heal. That’s what this record is all about for me.” Ann McCrary agrees wholeheartedly. “These songs stir me up,” she says, “and they do bring back a feel of the reason for the season. Some people will hear the songs that they listened to when they were little, and it’s going to bring that excitement of Christmas back to them.”

Track Listing:

1. Go Tell It on the Mountain (Traditional) 05:01

2. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Traditional) featuring Alison Krauss 04:47

3. O, Come, All Ye Faithful (John Reading / Traditional / John Frances Wade) feat. Steve Crawford 04:03

4. O Holy Night (Traditional) 05:25

5. Children Go Where I Send Thee (Traditional) 04:55

6. Away in a Manger (Traditional) feat. Jerry Douglas and Keb’Mo’ 04:37

7. Joy to the World (Traditional / Isaac Watts) 04:06

8. What Child Is This? (William Chatterton Dix / Traditional) feat. Buddy Miller 05:08

9. No Room at the Inn (Traditional) 02:35

10. Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child (Traditional) 04:26

11. Silent Night (Franz Gruber / Joseph Mohr / Traditional) 04:24

12. Joyful, Joyful (Traditional) feat. Pastor Shirley Caesar 03:30

13. Here I Am Lord, Send Me (Regina McCrary) 04:17


Ann McCrary: vocals

Regina McCrary: vocals, tambourine

Alfreda McCrary: vocals

Deborah McCrary: vocals

Doug Belote: drums

Anton Nesbit: electric bass

Tyrone Jackson: guitar

Elijah “DD” Holt: organ

Javier Solis: percussion

Viktor Krauss: acoustic bass

Todd Lombardo: acoustic guitar, mandolin, slide guitar, electric guitar, 12-String acoustic guitar

De Marco Johnson: Fender Rhodes, organ, piano

Alison Krauss: vocals

Steve Crawford: vocals

Jerry Douglas: lap steel guitar

Keb Mo: vocals, acoustic guitar

Buddy Miller: vocals, guitar

Judy Tint: handclaps

Shirley Caesar: vocals

Aliyah Havis: vocals, handclaps

Allan McCrary: vocals, handclaps

Angela McCrary: vocals, handclaps

Durel Curry: vocals, handclaps

Ephia Rucker: vocals, handclaps

Jacci Lee: vocals, handclaps

Jailyn McCrary: vocals, handclaps

Jessica Rucker: vocals, handclaps

Latoya McCrary: vocals, handclaps

Ricky McCrary: vocals, handclaps

Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin [Octave] – Todd Lombardo

Ralph Lofton: organ

Matt Tash: speech

Recorded at Sound Pure Studio, Durham, NC; Squirrel Nest Studio, Nashville, TN; StuStuStudio, Franklin, TN; The Doghouse, Nashville, TN; The Sound Emporium, Nashville, TN

Produced by Scott Billington with the McCrary Sisters

Recorded by Neal Cappellino, Alex Jarvis, Artem Smirnov, Rachael Moore, Robertson Stokes, Steve Reynolds

Mixed by Steve Reynolds

Mastered by Paul Blakemore

Photography by Gina Binkley


It’s only fitting that gospel group The McCrary Sisters would record an album in celebration of the season. On the satisfying A Very McCrary Christmas, these four daughters of a preacher stick to carols, singing with a religious exhilaration that elevates the tunes far beyond staleness. Gospel legend Shirley Caesar helps the siblings lift up “Joyful Joyful,” and blues star Keb’ Mo’ graces “Away In A Manger.”

Frank-John Hadley (DownBeat)