Trisha Yearwood Talks 'Christmas Together' Duet Album and Working With Garth Brooks

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Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood perform onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn.

The musical careers of Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood have long been intertwined with each other -- long before the two began to date.

It was music that brought them together, whether it be Yearwood singing on some of Brooks’ earliest sessions or Brooks harmonizing with his future wife on her second hit, 1991’s “Like We Never Had A Broken Heart.” 

Periodically, the two would record together as a duet with each other, most successfully with 1997’s “In Another’s Eyes.” The success of those collaborations led many fans to ask over the years about a possible duets album. Those questions increased after the two tied the knot in 2005. She says that though the two of them have wanted to do that, making an album happen wasn’t quite that easy.

“It’s always been difficult for Garth and I to record a duet album, because we’ve always been on different record labels, and that causes all kinds of red tape, you can’t even imagine,” the songstress tells Billboard. However, with both now operating as contractual free agents, the pair recently made fans’ wishes come true with the release of their Yuletide disc, Christmas Together. Released last month, the LP opened atop the Country Albums chart. “Now that we’re free to record together pretty seamlessly, we thought a Christmas duet album might be the perfect way to dip our toe into the duet waters,” she said.

The two have recorded many non-seasonal songs together over the years, and have wowed crowds with their renditions of Country Classics such as “After The Fire Is Gone” and “I Don’t Want To Have To Marry You,” so they could have went in any direction they could have chosen. Why a Christmas album?
 
“As a solo artist, it’s hard to find 10-12 songs I love. Now if you turn those songs into duets, your duet partner has to be just as passionate about each song, so finding those songs that you both love doubles the difficulty,” she admits. “But, we both love Christmas music, and thought it might be a little easier to find the songs that worked for both of us. Also, Garth has this wonderful idea that every single song didn’t have to be a traditional duet, so there are Garth songs on this record, Trisha songs on this record, duets, and even a collaboration with James Taylor. It turned out pretty cool.”

Taylor providing vocals on the track “What I’m Thankful For (The Thanksgiving Song)" was a special treat for Yearwood.  “I can’t even begin to describe it,” she says gleefully. “Garth and I recently performed this song live for the first time with James and his wife Kim, who also sings on the record. We were a part of the White House Tree Lighting ceremony this year. I think that’s when it truly hit me…something I had a hand in writing is being sung by James Taylor. You’ve gotta be kidding me! That’s what you call a moment.”

What is it about working with Brooks that brings out the best in Yearwood musically? “He pushes me in the studio to never settle," the singer-songwriter explains. "He encourages me to take chances vocally, because it should be an experimental playground when you’re making music. One of the things I love about Garth -- and that sometimes drives me crazy -- is that he doesn’t play it safe. And as an artist, I think I’m always better when I take those chances, and he encourages that in me.”

One performance that is definitely different for Yearwood is her take on the Eartha Kitt standard “Santa Baby,” where she shows more of a sensual side than anything she has ever recorded. She gets a kick out of that reaction, saying “A lot of people don’t even think it’s me singin -- which is odd, considering it’s a Garth and Trisha duet album! I have always loved this song, and I know the definitive version is Eartha Kitt’s recording, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I was sure that Marilyn Monroe had sung it.

But I couldn’t find a Marilyn version anywhere, so I kind of decided that there should be a Marilyn-esque version, so I did my best Marilyn-channeling while performing this song in the studio.” She says she enjoyed the experience. “It was so much fun going into character to sing a song. I’ve never done that before, but I’d love to do it again! Disney can call me anytime,” she volunteers.
 
Yearwood feels that while this is the first album between her and her spouse, it likely won’t be the last. “Testing the waters with Christmas Together was so much fun in the studio,” she says. “Our hope is that this is the start of a series of Garth and Trisha duet albums.”


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