December 23, 2013 12:00 PM

>People

TALKS TO

Why did you decide to do a Christmas album now?

[Producer] David Foster had been asking me, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I finally had time to get it out of my system.

As the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, this is a different, more orchestral sound for you.

I didn’t want to put a beat on a song or have some rapper on it. I wanted it to be classy and traditional, and make people feel like Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” made me feel when I was a little girl.

You’re also currently on the big screen in Black Nativity.

I felt like, “Wow. I’m an actress! I’m here with Angela [Bassett], Forest [Whitaker] and Jennifer [Hudson].” But I’ve still got a lot of work to do. One of my goals for 2014 is to definitely do some more acting.

Any special holiday traditions?

I just love having the family come together: putting up the lights, the reminiscing, the cooking. In my home it’s all soul food like collard greens, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, potato pie. It’s a lot of heavy food, so after the holidays I try to really get back in the gym!

What advice would you give your 21-year-old self at the start of your career?

“Stop worrying, because everything is going to be beyond what you dream about.”

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