Isaiah provided the vocals on “Little Dummer Boy” along with his mother.
Underwood initially recorded the song alone, but said she constantly thought of her son when hearing the popular Christmas tune about a poor young boy who plays his drum for Jesus.
“[Isaiah] loves to sing. He loves music. He definitely has that passion and I asked him, ‘Would you ever want to go in and sing with Mommy?’ He said, ‘Yes,’” Underwood said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I told everybody, ‘This might not even work. This might be a terrible idea.’ ... (And) he went in and he did such a great job. He was throwing his hands up in the air and was so excited and had all these cute 5-year-old emotions just pouring out of him.”
The country performer added: “It was just such a proud moment for me as a mom.”
Underwood’s husband Mike Fisher was equally excited for their son to be on the album.
“Oh, we were all just so excited. I was like, ‘I’m not going to send it to him right when I got it.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to go home and we’re all going to listen to it in the car.’ That’s where I always listen to my stuff that I record,” the singer said of the experience with her family. “We went in the car and Isaiah got to hear himself back for the first time. It was just a great moment for all of us — sitting in my SUV listening to his sweet little voice.”
Isaiah isn’t the only guest on “My Gift." John Legend appears on "Hallelujah," the original track he co-wrote. The album was produced by Greg Wells, who has worked with Katy Perry and Adele. Wells also won a Grammy for producing “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack.
Underwood’s first Christmas album was mostly recorded during the pandemic: She and Legend recorded separately, trading vocals over email; in Zoom sessions she co-wrote the tracks “Let There Be Peace” and “Sweet Baby Jesus” and took direction from Wells; and the orchestra musicians wore masks while recording for the album, which features gospel quartet the McCrary Sisters on background vocals.
“At the very beginning we weren’t wearing masks yet. After it all got shut down we said, ‘OK, we can do one of two things: Scrap it and maybe hope to do it later or we can push through.’ I feel like we had enough of the groundwork laid that I’m like, ‘Well what else am I going to do? Everybody else is in quarantine.’ We scaled everything back and just found new ways to do things. We couldn’t have some giant studio and a bunch of musicians in all the time and whatever,” she said of recording amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Underwood also revealed she chose to release the album in September to provide joy to people in this difficult year.
“We definitely wanted to just be positive in all of what we’re doing. You look at ‘Let There Be Peace’ ... I felt like we were kind of easing people into Christmas with that one because it’s not ‘Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.’ It’s just a hope for the world,” she said.
In regards to holiday plans amid the coronavirus pandemic, Underwood revealed things might look a little different this year.
“My husband’s family; our family’s in Canada so I have no idea if we’re going to be able to go up there. They have so many more restrictions as far as travel and stuff like that. You get there, then you have to be there for two weeks without seeing anybody and then you can see people, so you’re basically going to be there for a month,” she said. “I’m not really sure what that’s going to hold for us.”
The singer continued, “We’re still three months out, as we know a million things can change just like that. But we’ll be together, my husband, myself, our kids. Hopefully I can go see my family in Oklahoma ‘cause I really haven’t; I’ve seen my mom once this year. They’re in a little more at-risk group ’cause they’re older. I’m like, ‘I don’t want to bring our germs to you.’”
“We’re just like everybody else, going to figure it out. But it is a special time of year regardless,” she added.
Underwood concluded: “At the end of the day we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus. That’s always a good thing, no matter what year you live in, or where you are. I am more than happy to say, ‘Thank you God for the gift of Jesus.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.