When Christmas Was Young's Karen David On 'Dream Come True' Of Performing Sheryl Crow's Original Song For Holiday Movie

The Christmas season is getting musical on CBS with When Christmas Was Young as its next holiday movie, with Karen David in the leading role of Melody. She brings her talents as an actress/singer/songwriter to the TV movie, as her character is a talented musician who gave up on her dreams of making it in the business… but what better than a little Christmas magic to spark hope again? The movie’s title song was written by none other than music icon Sheryl Crow, and Karen David opened up to CinemaBlend about performing the song and trying country music for the first time. 

Karen David is no stranger to musical projects on the small screen after two seasons of Galavant, but When Christmas Was Young is a very different project that centers on a Christmas song with the potential to become a huge hit… if only music manager Luke can talk Melody into giving him the rights to the song. Sheryl Crow (who also executive produced the project) penned “When Christmas Was Young,” which viewers will hear sung by David when the movie airs on December 18. 

This also marks Karen David’s very first Christmas movie, and she shared with CinemaBlend what drew her to the holiday-themed project and the character of Melody, saying that it was an opportunity for her to get back to her roots as a singer/songwriter, and she already "trained for both" singing and acting. She explained:

To come back full circle to this journey where I could sing and the story is all about this song, and what I love so much about our movie is that music is the heartbeat of the story, and how music unifies everyone and the impact of just this one song and how it changes the lives of all these characters is so beautiful. So to be able to sing a song penned by the amazing Sheryl Crow was such a dream come true. I can't even begin to express how exciting that was, just to be able to sing her beautiful words. No one crafts a song quite like Sheryl Crow.

When Christmas Was Young is Nashville-themed with a showcase on country music, so it’s only fitting that a name as big as Sheryl Crow would write the title song that is – as the actress said – ”the heartbeat of the story” in the movie. Plus, as it turns out, the actress had been encouraged to work with Crow years ago. Karen David continued:

I remember being a student when I was like 16 years old. It was this one summer, I was at Berklee College of Music, and they had guest speakers that came in... and it was Bonnie Raitt that was in and was talking about Sheryl Crow. She was telling us – and we were all like 16 years old, naive, vulnerable, not knowing what the music world and Hollywood or anything like that was like – and she was saying, 'If you ever get the chance to work with Sheryl Crow, highly recommend,' and we're like, 'Really? Is that ever gonna happen in our lives?'

Getting a recommendation to work with Sheryl Crow by Bonnie Raitt as another music legend is an impressive endorsement, even though it seemed unlikely to David at the time that she’d ever have the chance. She went on to share her reaction to when she actually heard Crow's original song that she would be performing for When Christmas Was Young for the first time: 

I'm on a commuter train back home in London when I was visiting back home for a bit earlier this year, and then hearing Sheryl Crow's demo, singing the song that I have to do – it just blew my mind. Like, I was literally squealing. I was wearing my mask and you just see these eyes going, 'Oh my god!' Just squealing. I'll never forget that moment. It was so humbling, just deeply humbling, and I was so grateful to have this opportunity to be able to sing one of Sheryl's original songs. And what a song it was! And to be able to record it and release it as a record and have my husband produce on it too, there's so many things about this movie that just made it so dear to my heart and so incredibly special.

The song is already available on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and the iTunes store, so you can check out Sheryl Crow’s Christmas tune as sung by Karen David now. The song also has a personal touch for the actress, with husband Carl Ryden producing it. He even hit Instagram to hype the song and his wife's performance! Is it any surprise that working on the Sheryl Crow song was a dream come true for David?

Of course, playing a singer from Tennessee who had once dreamed of making it big in Nashville meant performing in a genre that was new to her. When asked if When Christmas Was Young was her first experience singing country music, Karen David revealed:

I was really nervous!... I love a good country tune, but I've never had the opportunity or even dared to try singing in that style, because there's so many people who are the pros that do it so great. You know, I've been more into pop music. But I feel like, especially in today's day and age – Taylor Swift for example. She just crosses those borders, where it has a bit of that funk, it has a bit of that country-esque to it, but yet, it's so accessible in the pop world as well…. What Sheryl wrote too, it's very Sheryl Crow, which I love. At the same time, it kind of bridges between those worlds together.

There’s no denying that Taylor Swift has been successful in crossing genre borders, considering that Ticketmaster recently crashed because she had so many fans who wanted to attend her concerts! Sheryl Crow certainly has enough hits to her name with her own methods of combining genres (and a James Bond theme song to boot), and it sounds like “When Christmas Was Young” was a great way to dive right into country for David. She went on:

For it to not only have those country influences, and a bit of the pop influences, but to have those holiday Christmas influences on the song too, adding a little bit of sprinkle and trying to find the happy medium, so that we could be integral to each of those genres and styles. But it was nerve-wracking, and of course I was so nervous! Sheryl Crow on the demo sounded amazing, and I'm like, 'I don't know if it gets any better than that.' Not that I ever would ever dream of competing with her. So it was just about trying to come up with an interpretation that felt true to the movie and also true to Melody. When you have Sheryl Crow, she sets the bar.

While When Christmas Was Young doesn’t debut on CBS until December 18, Karen David’s comments plus an exclusive clip from the movie prove that viewers are definitely going to get some musical holiday cheer… along with some sparks flying between David’s Melody and former One Tree Hill cast member Tyler Hilton’s Luke. Take a look:

Tyler Hilton came to When Christmas Was Young with experience in the genre already thanks to some Lifetime holiday movies, similarly to Amanda Kloots’ Fit For Christmas casting Hallmark movie alum Paul Greene as the leading man and Liza Lapira’s Must Love Christmas adding not one but two Hallmark veterans for a good old-fashioned love triangle. With Hilton as Luke, Karen David had an experienced co-star who already knew how to bring the holiday cheer to the small screen! 

See Karen David and Tyler Hilton as Melody and Luke in When Christmas Was Young on Sunday, December 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS in the last couple of weeks of the 2022 TV schedule. If you can’t tune in to watch the movie live on CBS, you can find it streaming with a Paramount+ subscription as well! To start planning ahead for the new year, be sure to check out our 2023 TV premiere lineup.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).