Brian McKnight Brings Family Together For Christmas Tune

For most families, the holiday season is a time to reunite with loved ones -- and singer Brian McKnight decided to use the recording of a new seasonal album to bring his own family a little closer together.

In selecting the tracks for "Bethlehem," McKnight included various Christmas standards, such as "Silent Night" and "The First Noel." But for the opening song, the R&B vocalist chose a track his late grandfather, a choral director, had a special knowledge of. McKnight also flew in 40 members of his extended family to sing back-up vocals on the song under the guise of the "McKnight Family Choir."

"'Hail Mary' is an old spiritual," McKnight recently told the MTV Radio Network, "and my grandfather [wrote an arrangement for] that song, probably back in the '50s. My family's been singing that song for every year that I've been alive. And what I wanted to do was... it wouldn't have been fair to just have

a few of my family members come out to sing, so I decided to fly everyone [in]."

"There were 40 people I flew from all over the country who were in my family," he added, "[and I brought them] to L.A. to record that song. Kind of like a family reunion. My grandmother passed probably 20 years ago and my grandfather passed probably 10 years ago. [It was] just something to show people that it's not just me, it's not just my brothers, everybody in my family can sing and are viable musical people. [All] 40!" [28.8 RealVideo]

Other guest stars on "Bethlehem" include Boyz II Men on "Let It Snow '98," and McKnight's sons, Niko and BJ, who sing with their father on "It's All About Love." "Bethlehem" arrived in stores last month.