Premiere: Lauren Alaina's 'Grown-Up Christmas List'

Lauren Alaina puts an acoustic spin on a holiday favorite with her version of Grown-Up Christmas List, premiering at USA TODAY.
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"I wanted to country it up a little," the 19-year-old singer says of the Davdi Foster/Linda Thompson-Jenner song, which previously has been recorded by the likes of Natalie Cole, Amy Grant, Barbra Streisand and Kelly Clarkson. "I've been singing it since I was little, at karaoke and stuff around Christmas."

The track, produced by Nathan Chapman, will be released on iTunes Tuesday, in conjunction with the 26th anniversary of the Special Olympics' A Very Special Christmas music series.

Proceeds from the sale of Alaina's single will benefit the Special Olympics. "The song's about wanting equality and a world full of peace," she says. "It fits what I'm doing around Special Olympics perfectly."

Alaina, who is now a Special Olympics Ambassador for Project UNIFY, has been volunteering for the organization since she was 11. She traveled to South Korea last year for the Special Olympics Winter Games. "It was life-changing to see all their hard work," she says. "If I could load up everybody in the world and take the to the Games to see what goes on there, I would. It's incredible."

Alaina's debut album, Wildflower, entered the Billboard albums chart at No. 5 upon its release in 2012. The 2011 American Idol runner-up currently is working on a follow-up. "People think I'm taking forever, but I want to get it right," she says. "I feel like I've finally gotten to a place where I've come into my own and developed my own craft. I've been figuring out who I want to be as an artist moreso than I did on the first album, because I was so young and it was so fast."

In the meantime, the Georgia native also has found a place in Nashville, so she'll be moving in this month. "Preparing for the holidays, I'm going to be moving, then I'll go home and spend Christmas with my family," she says. "I always take Christmas off, because that's a very important time for my family. We go all out at Christmastime, so I've got to be there, or they'll disown me."

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