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At 77, Cher Delivers a Star-Studded ‘Christmas’ Album

The indefatigable star dishes on everything from falling in love via text with her 37-year-old boyfriend to talking Stevie Wonder into bringing his harmonica into the recording studio


spinner image Cher attends the Balmain Ready To Wear Spring 2024 fashion show.
Swan Gallet/WWD via Getty Images

“I just didn’t want to be traditional,” says Cher, describing her new holiday album — and that could be the mantra for her 60-year career. The 77-year-old singer, barefoot in black lounge pants and a gray fleece hoodie, is perched on an oversize white couch in the living room of her Italian Renaissance–style mansion, set on a bluff overlooking the Pacific.

She’s referring to Christmas, an eclectic set of 13 seasonal covers and originals featuring guests Stevie Wonder, 73, Cyndi Lauper, 70, Darlene Love, 82, Michael Bublé and Tyga. The rapper joins her on “Drop Top Sleigh Ride,” coproduced by Cher’s 37-year-old boyfriend, Alexander Edwards, a record executive she started dating after they met at Fashion Week in Paris last year.

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Edwards has been a high point in a period of loss. Cher’s mother, Georgia Holt, died at 96 last December, and superstar Tina Turner, a close friend, died on May 24 after years of illness.

As holiday season looms on the horizon, Cher talks with AARP about these recent losses in her life, her new romance, an upcoming memoir and crafting the Christmas album she’d avoided for decades.

What took you so long to record a Christmas album, and how did you tailor it to fit you?

I never wanted to make one. And then I did. I wanted it to be a Cher Christmas album, whatever that means. I knew what it meant in my emotions, but I didn’t know how it was going to manifest. It became a bunch of songs that were not related, from Chuck Berry [the rocking “Run Rudolph Run”] to Michael Bublé [the ballad “Home”]. I think “Please Come Home for Christmas” is the closest I get to tradition.

spinner image The album cover art for "Christmas" by Cher
Warner Records

Your voice sounds better than ever, especially on “Angels in the Snow” and “I Like Christmas.” I know you worked with Adrienne Angel, your 96-year-old vocal teacher.

It’s not the first time she brought me back from the dead. It’s the second time she was able to take my voice and make it what it once was. Also, my doctor said, “Cher, you have the vocal cords of a 25-year-old.”

You dug up a wonderful but somewhat obscure song, the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” from 1968.

I didn’t love it in the beginning. I just had to have an extra song for Amazon, and it was there. It was kind of the redheaded stepchild. At first I didn’t have the respect for it that it deserved. But I listened to it a few times and thought, This is great. It works for me.

You enlisted Darlene Love, 82, for “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” her 1963 classic. Sixty years ago you were among the backup singers on her release. What do you recall about the session?

I was 17. I remember everything about it. I know where we were standing. The thing she remembers most is Phillip [Spector, who cowrote and produced the original] saying, “Cher, can you move back, can you take another step back?” My voice kind of cut through. When Darlene opened her mouth to sing, we all stopped breathing. She was just genius. For my album, I called her and said, “Babe, I want to do this song, but I won’t do it without you.” And of course, Darlene went, “Yeah, I’m there.”

How did you entice Stevie Wonder for a duet of his “What Christmas Means to Me”?

I just called him. I said, “I’ve done the song. I think I’ve done a good job, but there are parts that are just you, parts I just can’t do.” He said, “OK.” But I kept trying to sell him on it even after he said OK. At one point he said, “Cher, is it one of my songs?” I went, “Yeah, do you think I would ask you to do someone else’s song?” And then he said, “Do you want me to play harmonica?” I was like, this is the gift that keeps on giving. I hung up and jumped up and down on my bed: “Stevie Wonder is going to be on my Christmas album!”

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A lot of people might be surprised to find Cher and Tyga on the same record.

Alexander produced that. It never occurred to me that Tyga would want to be on a record with me, and I really thought Alexander twisted his arm. Alexander played it for him and said he thought it needed another verse. T said, “I got it,” walked into the other room, wrote it and came back, ready to go. I was gung ho. It just lifted it for me.

You’re also releasing a 25th-anniversary deluxe edition of the Believe album. Your altered vocals revolutionized hip-hop. Do you feel you got proper recognition for the leap into Auto-Tune?

You can only get credit for so long. Some producers know. Kids don’t know. A lot of young people love “Believe” because it sounds current, but they don’t know who Cher is. They don’t know I’m singing it.

The sound came from a big argument. The verses were difficult because they just laid there. So Mark [Taylor, her producer] kept saying, “You’ve got to sing it better,” and he said it one too many times. I said, “If you want it better, get another singer,” and I walked out. I’d been there forever trying to make it better, and I just had no other tricks in my bag.

I saw this boy [Andrew Roachford] the next day using a vocoder on a British morning show. I asked Mark about that, and he said he had a pitch machine. He said, “Give me a couple of hours.” Later he played it, and I was thrilled. We just high-fived. Then we had to talk [Warner Music UK exec] Rob Dickins into putting it out. He said, “It doesn’t sound like you.” I said, “That’s the genius of it.”

spinner image Cher standing on an iceberg while wearing a silver dress
An Le/Warner Records

How do you spend Christmas, and how did you celebrate as a kid?

My birthday is no longer my favorite holiday. I do love Christmas. The house is always full. I have mainly strays, lots of kids, my best friends. Growing up, we were kind of poor, but my mom did a great job. I’m sure she saved throughout the year. We always had a tree and presents. Even the simplest little presents are fun, especially if you have a bunch of them to open. It was always a good time.

How much did your mom shape your life and career?

She was very instrumental in the beginning because I was dyslexic and I was terrible in school. My mom was not so interested in my grades. I told her once I was afraid to come home because I had gotten such a bad grade in math. I said, “Mom, I just don’t understand numbers. I can’t see them.” She said, “It doesn’t matter. Don’t worry. When you grow up, you’ll have someone to do numbers for you. You’re not going to be the best or the prettiest or the most at anything most likely, but you’re special and you will be someone that people will know.”

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spinner image Tina Turner and Cher together in New York City in 1985.
Tina Turner with Cher in New York City in 1985.
Robin Platzer/IMAGES/Getty Images

What was your friendship with Tina Turner built on?

I met Tina when she and Ike came on my show. I didn’t really know her story at the time. But I knew things weren’t right for her. On one of our breaks she asked me, “How did you leave Sonny?” I said, “I just walked out one night.” And she said OK. And that’s what she did.

How was it in her final years, when she was ill?

I saw her every year for the last four or five years. She always said to me, “I’m ready [to die].” I went, “Oh, come on.” Two hours later, we would be laughing hysterically and running around her house, and she’d be talking about everything she bought. She loved stuff, but what girl doesn’t? That house was so cram-jammed, but everything was really tasteful and she had great stories to go with it all. I like cleaner surfaces. We were opposites, but we were kindred sisters. She never swore, and I swear like a sailor.

On the opening night of Madonna’s tour, she flashed a clip of you calling her mean. It was from an old interview when you also said she was rude to friends in your home and that she behaved like a spoiled brat.

I thought it was funny. I will say she was great with my children, unbelievably kind. With my guests, not so much. I have respect for her in one particular way. Madonna had her ear to the ground on everything. She was the first one to know every new trend and jump on it before we even got a chance.

spinner image Alexander Edwards and Cher attend the Versace FW23 Show in West Hollywood, California.
Alexander Edwards and Cher attend the Versace FW23 Show at Pacific Design Center on March 9, 2023 in West Hollywood, California.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

You and Alexander Edwards have been together for a year, a romance that grew from texts.

It was an accident. After we met I wasn’t coming home for some weeks, so we started texting. Alexander and I were just talking about it and he said, “I think I was in love with you after the third text.” At first, I kept saying, “We don’t want to do this. You shouldn’t be doing this, and I don’t want to.” I just didn’t think it would be a good thing. He was way too young. He’s very stubborn, and he just didn’t see it my way.

You’re finishing up a memoir. You’ve always been open about your personal life. Are there secrets left to tell?

Oh God, yes! It’s something I’ve been fighting with. All of a sudden I felt I was getting too protective. But if you’re going to do a book, you might as well go hard into it. There are certain stories you don’t want to tell, but those are going to be most interesting and helpful. It’s a bitch, because it’s too big and too long, just like my life.

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