On Wednesday, Michele exclusively revealed to PEOPLE that she’s dropping her first holiday album this October, and it has a lot of ties to her breakout days playing Rachel Berry on Glee. The album, which drops Oct. 25, is titled Christmas in the City.
Michele is partnering with her music producers from Glee, Adam and Alex Anders, to bring the record to life. “If you don’t know the Anders brothers, they did every single one of the over 800 songs we did on Glee,” she told PEOPLE. “It was very important to me that we reunited for this record. I wanted to bring back that sound from Glee — that very vibrant and bright and powerful sound that we created.”
And that’s not where the ties to Glee end because Michele is bringing two of her former costars onto the record as well for special duets. Jonathan Groff, who starred alongside Michele in Broadway’s Spring Awakening, before playing antagonist-turned romantic paramour Jesse on the Fox series, is joining the actress on a cover of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
“Jonathan is my best friend in the entire world, and the song we’re singing on the record, ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ we’ve been singing together for over 10 years,” Michele said. “We would often have to do Christmas benefits and stuff like that in New York so that song in particular has very special meaning to us.”
Darren Criss, who joined Glee as Blaine in season 2, is also on the record, singing on “White Christmas.” Criss and Michele have maintained a close friendship since the series ended in 2015, and the pair toured together last fall, duetting and singing some of their original music as well.
“Darren and I are dear friends so it was only natural that I would have him come on the record with me,” she added. Broadway entertainer and upcoming Harriet star Cynthia Erivo is also on the album, duetting with Michele for the song “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
Christmas in the City’s tracklist includes: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Silent Night,” “Silver Bells,” “O Holy Night,” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from Frozen. Michele has also written a new original holiday track, “Christmas in New York.”
“I wrote this song as my real love letter,” she told PEOPLE. “It’s the anthem of the album, and it just highlights all of the special things New York has to offer. It paints this beautiful picture of New York, but it also is really about what it means to be with your family and friends and engaged in that holiday spirit.”
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