Rod Stewart Signs With Universal, Will Release Christmas Album in Fall

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart

After proudly declaring himself "a free agent" just over a year ago, the legendary singer teams with UMG's Lucian Grainge, jazz label Verve and veteran producer David Foster.

Rod Stewart has a new home at Universal Music Group. The legendary singer signed with Verve Music Group for a long-term, multi-album deal, chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge and Stewart’s longtime manager Arnold Stiefel announced. 

The legendary singer will release his first-ever Christmas album, for which he’ll team with veteran producer and Verve chairman David Foster, who worked on multiplatinum holiday sets by Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban. “Stewart’s warm, expressive and distinctively raspy voice is proving a perfect fit for the holiday classics,” reads a statement by the label, which also notes that the album, due out this fall, will include a handful of “star-studded” vocal duets.

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A little more than a year ago, Stewart proudly declared himself a “free agent” while speaking with The Hollywood Reporter. A decade after signing with Clive Davis' J Records (which since has been folded into the RCA Records label), the Sony-owned company hadn't offered him a new deal as of April 2011, and the singer's contract simply expired. “It’s like back in the old days, with no one telling you what to do,” Stewart cracked at the time, adding that “record companies are only interested in the bottom line; they’re not interested in longevity or an artist’s career. You’re only as good as your last single or album.”

Still, Stewart pooh-poohed the idea of self-releasing, reasoning that it would be “too much work” to start his own record company or license his albums. In fact, Stewart insisted, “I still believe in the label system.”

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And clearly Grainge believes in Stewart’s potential. “I’ve known Rod and Arnold for many years and have been wanting to work with them for some time,” the executive said in a statement. “Rod possesses one of pop music’s most inventive and memorable voices, and we’re delighted to be part of the next great chapter in his already storied career.”

Added Stewart, who, like Grainge, was named a Commander of the British Empire: “I’m confident that by partnering with my fellow CBE, Lucian, and his cracking, top-notch company, we have the best team in the business. And the chance to work again with David Foster makes it that much sweeter.”

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Stiefel described the deal as “a match made in heaven,” writing, “Rod’s writing spirit has been rekindled, and Universal is the perfect keeper of the flame.”

Stewart has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, received 18 Grammy nominations and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist and this year as a member of The Faces.

Twitter: @THRMusic