Singer Kem didn't want to release a typical Christmas album for the holidays. But his holiday-themed LP, 'What Christmas Means,' goes beyond the repetitive carols heard in the mall and on commercials this time of year.

"My record label and my team have been asking me to do a Christmas record for years," the Grammy-nominated crooner tells "And I've always shied away from it because I didn't want to do the same old mash-up of songs. It was actually going to be a couple of songs, but the more I got into it the more I realized it should be a bona fide, full-fledged Christmas project."

On the album, Kem brings together a compilation of five classic Christmas songs, such as 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,' and pairs them with five original tracks such as 'Glorify the King.' He describes the project as some of his best work yet; to him, it's "spiritual, soothing, intimate and romantic."

“My favorite original song on the album is ‘What Christmas Means’ and it's a duet actually and features my good friend Ledisi, who was very gracious to participate on this album because we've done shows together over the years,” Kem reveals. “I've always looked for an opportunity for us to come together on wax and we finally did it on this song.”

Next year, Kem plans to release his fourth studio album. His last project, 2010's ‘Intimacy,’ featured the soulful stylings of Jill Scott on 'Golden Days.' On his forthcoming LP, he has a few artists he hopes to unite with in the studio.

“I have collaborations in store that are not confirmed yet but there are some people that I'd like to work with on this record and I need to put that out there," he explains. "So Ron Isley and Esperanza Spalding and Rachelle Ferrell. I'll be looking for you for the next studio album in 2013.”

The Detroit native also spoke about one particular young hip-hop artist he'd like to collaborate with that also reps his hometown.

“Yeah I've been hearing a lot about Big Sean and we were actually kicking his name around in regards to an upcoming project that I'm working on,” Kem states. “I consider all of Detroit musicians and artists to be family. Whether I know them formally or not. From Kid Rock to Anita Baker, Eminem, Big Sean, Jack White, I feel like we're all brothers and sisters out there representing what's good in our city.”

Kem, who made his acting debut in the movie ‘Sparkle’ this year, says he wants to keep his fans engaged with his music, so don't expect projects outside of an album for now. "I'm definitely looking forward to doing more of that but right now music is my focus."

Watch Kem's 'A Christmas Song for You' Video