The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Queen of Soul are just two of 11 acts gracing the tracklist of “A Very Special Christmas: Icon,” the latest in a long line of compilation discs benefiting the Special Olympics.
The “A Very Special Christmas” holiday series celebrates its 26th year in 2013 with the release of the album, dating back to its first compilation in 1987. The album will see an Oct. 15 release through Universal.
Presley and Franklin are joined by a flurry of artists on the album — with certain inclusions representing classic hits in the Christmas genre, including Presley’s “Blue Christmas,” Wham!’s “Last Christmas” and John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over).”
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over); was our holiday wish for a more peaceful world, so I am happy it’s part of ‘A Very Special Christmas,'” Ono said about her song’s inclusion in the project. “Special Olympics shows us how a more peaceful world could work, a world in which every person is valued and given the opportunity to live as full a life as possible, with the help and encouragement of a loving community.”
Other artists featured on the compilation include Sting, Carrie Underwood, Josh Groban, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Sheryl Crow and Jon Bon Jovi.
Also included in the international release and available digitally is a new recording of “O Holy Night” by former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.
“I love sharing my passion for music to support a cause as fantastic as Special Olympics and really enjoyed spending time with Special Olympics athlete Greg Silvester, whose generous spirit is contagious,” Scherzinger said. “Special Olympics athletes, like Greg, are the stars… great messengers of love and peace. It is their bright light that shines so strong, for which I am grateful.”
Since its inception, the series has raised royalties of $116 million supporting Special Olympics programs, with $38 million in grants for promotion of the games in countries around the world.
A full tracklist is below:
1. John Lennon & Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band feat. Harlem Community Choir, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)
2. Rod Stewart, “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
3. Sting, “I Saw Three Ships”
4. Aretha Franklin, “Winter Wonderland”
5. Josh Groban, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
6. Jon Bon Jovi, “Please Be Home for Christmas”
7. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Christmas All Over Again”
8. Sheryl Crow, “Run Rudolph Run”
9. Elvis Presley, “Blue Christmas”
10. Carrie Underwood, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
11. Wham!, “Last Christmas”
12. Nicole Scherzinger, “O Holy Night” (International Version, Digitally in U.S.)