Fresh off the release of her 2020 Christmas album My Gift, Carrie Underwood is again gifting her fans with new music. This time, the Oklahoma native is looking to her faith for her latest project, My Savior, an album of gospel hymns, out March 26 (and on vinyl April 30).
Co-produced and arranged by Underwood and David Garcia (Cry Pretty), the 13-track project consists of covers of traditional gospel hymns Underwood grew up singing in church, including classics such as “Softly and Tenderly,” “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”
“My Savior is an album I have wanted to make since the beginning of my career. This is legacy stuff to me. I love each and every album that I’ve ever had the pleasure of making —the songs that I’ve written and the songs that I’ve sang and performed but I feel like at the heart of it all is an album like this one,” Underwood says. “When we wrapped the Cry Pretty tour in 2019, I knew that this and my first Christmas album would be my next recording projects. As 2020 turned out, it turned out to be such a blessing to get to make both of these albums in ways I couldn’t have imagined. We found new ways to keep moving forward and what a joy it’s been to make music like this right now.”
For the album, Underwood enlists the help of gospel artist CeCe Winans to duet on the classic hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and taps NEEDTOBREATHE frontman Bear Rinehart for a collaboration on the traditional hymn, “Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus.”
“My Savior is really a continuation of what we did with My Gift, which is to celebrate God’s gifts to us. I feel so fortunate to have spent the past year with these beautiful, inspirational messages,” Underwood shares. “
To celebrate the release of her album, Underwood will perform all the tracks from My Savior in an Easter Sunday special titled, My Savior: Live From The Ryman, a virtual live concert performance from the iconic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, airing on her official Facebook page at 11:00 a.m. CT on April 4th, with donations benefiting Save the Children.
Fans can RSVP via Facebook here and “My Savior: Live From The Ryman” will remain exclusively on Facebook for 48 hours.
In her own words, Underwood takes American Songwriter readers through a track by track rundown of My Savior.
“When I was first thinking about this album, I knew I wanted to cover the familiar, traditional songs that I grew up singing,” Underwood says. “My heart was leading me to sing the hymns I grew up singing, many of which we might be introducing to a whole new audience.”
“Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus”
This song has such strong meaning—“what can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” David [Garcia, co-producer] and I wanted to bring some tempo and harmonies into it to feel a little more current. When we were talking about how it would sound, we could hear another voice in the mix on it, so we decided to ask Bear Rinehart, the frontman of NEEDTOBREATHE to bring his amazing voice to the harmonies. I’m such a huge fan of Bear and the band so I was so thrilled he said yes. His voice brings the exact vibe we wanted.
Simply put, “Blessed Assurance” is a beautiful, classic hymn. The lyrics “blessed assurance, Jesus is mine,” really say it all. The Bible tells us we should not worry or be afraid and that’s what this song represents for me. It’s a song I can remember singing with the congregation in church when I was young, and it still makes me feel that way.
“Just As I Am “
“Just As I Am” was the altar call song in my Church growing up, so it has such beautiful memories for me. It tells us that we are accepted and loved just as we are, which I think is something I think we all need to hear.
“Victory In Jesus“
We had such an amazing group of studio musicians on My Savior and I love what they brought to this song. We didn’t have a specific plan going in that day, we really just wanted to get everyone in the room and see what happens. These musicians are some of the best in the business and we really wanted them to bring their own artistry to it. What came out of that session was this cool vibe that was kind of bluesy and almost “old-timey.” Some of them joined in with their background vocals and we just went with it. It felt so natural and authentic, I love how it came together.
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness (featuring CeCe Winans)“
For me, this song is similar to “How Great Thou Art” because it builds to something so powerful, but it doesn’t start out that way. It’s a song I feel like I’ve been singing my whole life. It is so dynamic and true — God has given us so much and every single day we can look around and just see new gifts that God has given to us.
CeCe Winans and I have crossed paths at various times throughout my career and I’ve always admired her. She recorded “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” in the past, and I’m so glad that she was willing to come in and record it with me now. She literally came in as we were putting the finishing touches on this album. And by finishing touches, I mean she was the giant sprinkles and cherry and whipped cream on top. CeCe is legendary, not just in the gospel world but in the world of music and I was honored that she said yes, she just sounds magical. I loved this song before, but this takes it to a whole new level for me.
“O How I Love Jesus”
“O How I Love Jesus” is one of my favorite songs on this album because of its simplicity. “Oh, how I love Jesus, because he first loved me”…there’s just something beautiful and simple about that.
“How Great Thou Art“
I have sung “How Great Thou Art” many times over the years. Vince Gill and I once performed it together, which was really special for me. It was on top of the list of songs I knew we had to record for My Savior, I just couldn’t imagine not including it on the album. We wanted to expand it a bit with the arrangement and made sure we were giving it its own shining moment on the album.
“Because He Lives“
“Because He Lives… all fear is gone”…there’s something so reassuring about that. I love the way we arranged it. We wanted to keep the heart of it but still have it feel current, with a bit of tempo underneath.
“The Old Rugged Cross“
When I think of “The Old Rugged Cross,” I can hear certain people who are no longer with us that I remember singing with in church when I was a kid. It’s a song I sing to my own kids now, so it means a lot to me to have it on the album.
“I Surrender All“
“I Surrender All” has such a beautiful, simple melody. The title says it all, it’s just about giving ourselves over to God and letting him take control.
“Softly And Tenderly”
I sang “Softly And Tenderly” for the In Memoriam segment on the CMA Awards in 2017. It was a very somber moment in that show, but it felt like this song brought a lot of healing into the room. I’m so happy to have recorded it for this album. Hopefully, it will continue to bring some healing to people who need it.
“Amazing Grace” almost didn’t make it onto this album, mainly because I felt that it was the one songs that so many people have already recorded. When we were picking the final songs, David asked me if there was anything I thought fans would miss and that was “Amazing Grace.” We just had to include it and I’m so glad we did. I did have some of it included on “Something In The Water,” but even then, I was reluctant to put it in there for the same reason. Looking back, it would’ve been a totally different song without it, and it was such a beautiful moment. For My Savior, we didn’t feel the need to try to jazz it up, we just kept it really bare and sweet.
Photos by Jeremy Cowart