Exclusive: 'Voice' Finalist Chris Mann Records Christmas Album
Exclusive: 'Voice' Finalist Chris Mann Records Christmas Album

"The Voice" finalist Chris Mann will release a Christmas EP three weeks before the Oct. 30 release of his debut album.

Mann has recorded six classic songs for a Christmas album that will be sold exclusively at Walmart. Faircraft Records/Universal Republic, which is releasing his debut, will release the holiday set as well.

With the Christmas album finished, the classically trained singer is wrapping up his debut, recording the country classic "You Were Always on My Mind" Thursday in Los Angeles and traveling to Nashville next week to record a version of the Lady Antebellum hit "I Need You Now." An orchestra will be recorded for the album's 11 tracks next week as well.

The album will comprise seven covers and four originals, two of which Mann wrote.

"My goal was not to get as much publishing as I could, but to sing the 11 best songs I could find -- songs I love and songs that I wrote," Mann said in an interview at the West Los Angeles home of the executive producer overseeing the album, Ron Fair. "There is a throughline on my record about being true to yourself and sticking to your guns."

Mann's covers include Damien Rice's "The Blower's Daughter," Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and a new version of "Ave Maria," which he sang on the April 30 episode of "The Voice."

The unique cover will be "My Way." Paul Anka, who wrote the English language words for the French melody that Frank Sinatra turned into a hit 43 years ago, has rewritten part of the song for Mann.

"They're subtle changes," Mann says. "He wrote it from a young man's perspective: Instead of being the end of the road for Frank, it's going to be the beginning of the road for me. It just takes you back 30 years in the story and then looking ahead. It's the message I had on 'The Voice' and was very much vocal about - I wanted to do things my way and to not apologize for it. And Paul endorsed me with this song."

Among the originals are his own "Falling" and "Cuare," the verses of which are based on Bach's Air on a G String and the choruses are written, in Italian, by Mann and producer Marco Marinangeli.

"I almost prefer to sing in Italian," he says. "I learn the translation I then have to make (the listener) understand what I'm saying. You then listen to the voice and the arrangement and just be moved by the musical piece instead of listening to the words."

For the Christmas EP, coming out Oct. 9, Mann says he opted for his favorites. "O Holy Night" is done a cappella with 24 voices; "I'll be Home for Christmas," "White Christmas" and "The First Noel" have traditional orchestral arrangements from Walter Afanasieff; and "O Come All Ye Faithful" is "a poppier take -- it's got a groove to it."

"My voice works best with that bigger traditional sound," he says. "I wanted to make a timeless sounding Christmas album -- and I can't wait to make another one, a full one."