Austin enlisted her longtime musical partner, pianist/arranger, Greg Phillinganes to solely accompany her on two the three songs: a sublime take on Jeremy Lubbock and Dick Rudolph's new Christmas song, "I Really Don't Want Much For Christmas," and a dramatic version of Bill Withers' classic "Lean on Me". Her original composition, "By the Grace of God." is accompanied by Jim Cox, who has lent his talents to countless hit songs. (The latter two tunes also feature a vocal choir.) An Inspirational Holiday's leadoff track, "I Really Don't Want Much For Christmas", features lyrics about the desire for peace, rather than "fancy toys and diamond-studded gifts."
Even though "Lean on Me" has been covered by many artists, Austin casts the song in a new light. "Greg and I realized that we needed to do it differently, so he sat down at the piano and came up with this beautiful arrangement," says Austin. "I wanted the arrangement to express the soulfulness of gospel and the drama of an aria, so that Bill Withers' wonderful universal message: that eventually we all do need the help and support of others would ring through yet again.
"By The Grace Of God" was inspired by a segment on the "Oprah" show. Oprah's guest told a story of her permanent facial disfigurement as a result of spousal abuse. Oprah remarked, â€˜Girl, you are here by the grace of God'. "I was so moved that I went to the piano and wrote this song in fifteen minutes, words, music and all. So I felt that the tune was really channeled through divine intervention.