At 82 and more than 50 years into his entertainment career, Engelbert Humperdinck is on a roll.
Earlier this year the British singer released a new studio album, The Man I Want To Be, his first set original material in more than a decade. And on Oct. 12 he'll celebrate the season with Warmest Christmas Wishes, a 14-track set whose rendition the Charles Brown staple "Please Come Home For Christmas" premieres exclusively below.
"It's been such a long time since I recorded a Christmas album, and fans have been asking me, 'When are you going to do another one?'" Humperdinck — who released his first holiday set, Christmas Tyme, in 1977 and has put out several more since — tells Billboard. "Finally, we decided to do it. I love (Christmas). From me growing up with a large family and everybody singing around the Christmas tree, it was a wonderful, wonderful upbringing. So (Christmas) is very special with me to share."
Produced by The Man I Want To Be's Jurgen Korduletsch, with arrangements by Gef Stradling, Johnny Harris and Jeff Sturges, Warmest Christmas Wishes mixes classic and contemporary material, from "White Christmas" (in a jazz-styled arrangement), "Silent Night" and "O Tannenbaum" to Chris Rea's "Driving Home For Christmas" and Gilbert O'Sullvan's "Christmas Song." The set, which Humperdinck recorded in Los Angeles, also includes two brand new songs — "Christmas For the Family" and "Around the Christmas Tree." Humperdinck also wrote English lyrics for "Silently Falls the Snow," originally a German song.
"'Driving Home For Christmas' is just a great Christmas songs because people are in their cars and driving home," Humperdinck says. "I just wanted to make an album people could put on and maybe enjoy the holiday a little more with the music."
Taking on "Please Come Home For Christmas" was a challenge, Humperdinck adds. "It was kind an unusual style when I heard the original version it, because it's very sort bluesy," he explains. "But I got ahold it and with the great arrangement that we've got here I think I did a good job on it."
Humperdinck is filming a PBS special in Hawaii, which will feature five the songs from Warmest Christmas Wishes as well as other favorites from throughout his career, with an airdate TBA. Meanwhile, Humperdinck is already plotting what to do next and how to keep his current roll, well, rolling. "Retirement has never entered my mind for one moment because I don't feel the age I am — and I don't act it and I don't speak like it," he says. "When God calls me, that's when I stop. Until then I'm going to just keep going."