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September 19, 2023

Teddy Pendergrass' holiday album to make streaming debut in November

'This Christmas (I'd Rather Have Love),' the Philly singer-songwriter's final project, comes to digital platforms for its 25th anniversary

Teddy Pendergrass captured many hearts during a music career that lasted more than three decades. The R&B and soul singer who spent his formative years in North Philadelphia first found success as the lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes before becoming a Grammy-nominated solo artist.

In 1998, Pendergrass released his 14th and final album, "This Christmas (I'd Rather Have Love)," which, 25 years later, will be released digitally for the first time. It hits streaming platforms on Friday, Nov. 3.

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The 11-track album, which includes the songs "Christmas and You" and "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," will be released by Craft Recordings. One song from the album, "Joy to the World," has already hit streaming services as a single. 

"Teddy was very proud of this album. He put it all together himself with some help from the Calloway Brothers (of Midnight Star fame) and Jim (Salamone)," Daniel Markus, who was Pendergrass' comanager, said in a media release. 

Born in South Carolina, Pendergrass was raised by his single mother, Ida, in Philadelphia. He was heavily involved in church, singing in the choir and becoming an ordained minister at 10 years old. He attended Thomas Edison High School before dropping out and embarking on a singing career.

At age 20, he joined the Philly music group Harold & the Blue Notes as its lead singer. "If You Don't Know Me by Now," released in 1972, was the group's first mainstream success; it topped Billboard's R&B chart and peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100 list. 

In 1977, Pendergrass released his self-titled solo album, which featured the songs "I Don't Love You Anymore" and "The Whole Town's Laughing at Me." That release was the first in a string of five consecutive platinum-selling album releases. 

Pendergrass was paralyzed from the chest down in a 1982 car accident. In the following 16 years, he released eight more albums, including "This Christmas (I'd Rather Have Love)." His final album came out at the same time as his autobiography, "Truly Blessed," which was coauthored by Patricia Romanowski.

In 2006, the five-time Grammy-nominated singer announced his retirement from music. After battling colon cancer, Pendergrass succumbed to respiratory failure and died in 2010. 

Pendergrass was enshrined in the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in 2021. This January, Pendergrass was ranked as the 42nd best singer of all time by Rolling Stone

All 13 of Pendergrass' other solo albums are currently available to stream.