Dinah Jane was in bumper-to-bumper traffic from L.A. to her native Orange County when she put on Under the Tree, a Christmas EP recorded by her Fifth Harmony bandmate Ally Brooke. “I was going, ‘Oh my gosh, this is actually so good,’” Dinah remembers. “I loved every song.”
The production on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” impressed her so much that an idea popped into her head: What if she reached out to Ally to record a duet version of the song? “I was actually really nervous. I was like, ‘Who knows if Ally wants me on it, but we going to find out,’” Dinah tells Rolling Stone with a laugh.
For Ally, Dinah joining her for a duet was a no-brainer. “When I heard [her version], I was floored. I played it over and over and over again,” Ally says now. “Dinah crushed it more than I could have ever thought.”
On Thursday night, Ally and Dinah pair will release a duet rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” marking the first time any of the members of Fifth Harmony reunite for new music since their hiatus in March 2018.
The collaboration is a special holiday treat for Harmonizers, whose fanaticism was reinvigorated in October after Ally teased that a reunion with the defunct group — originally comprising Camila Cabello, Normani, Lauren Jauregui, Dinah and Ally — seemed “closer than we think.” (She later clarified that she meant friendships were “slowly reuniting in a healing and empowering way.”)
The collab also arrives as both performers rebuild their solo careers with new music: Dinah Jane dropped single “Ya Ya” in August, her first single since 2020, while Ally Brooke returned with “Gone to Bed” in October after more than a year.
Rolling Stone caught up with Dinah and Ally to reminisce on Fifth Harmony’s Christmas covers, finding healing from their time in the group, and releasing new music as soloists:
Rolling Stone: How are you doing? Where are you!
Ally Brooke: I’m actually at home in San Antonio. My parents say, “Hey, Dinah.” They love you, and they’re so excited.
Dinah Jane: Oh my gosh. Ally, love that for you. Send them my love.
DJ: I thought you’d still be here in LA! I’m here in Cali. I just dropped off my grandma at the airport. She had to return back home.
RS: I’m so excited for this new song. Whose idea was it? How did this happen?
DJ: So I was driving from LA to Orange County through this ugly traffic, we all know how that goes. So I took a listen to Ally’s EP. I was really drawn to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I was amazed by the production. Our managers got in contact with each other, and they sent over the instrumental, and I cut it in the next three days.
AB: When I heard it, I was floored. I played it over and over and over again. She crushed it more than I could have ever thought. She literally just took it to a whole ‘nother level.
DJ: You crushed it. The whole thing was magical. I’m so proud of you.
AB: Thanks, Dinah. I love you, and I’m so proud of you, too.
RS: I know you’ve all been supportive, but how did you reconnect over the last year?
AB: Dinah invited me to her release party. That was the kicker of it all. We hadn’t seen each other in five years, and it was like we didn’t ever leave. It was amazing. I think that’s how it was, right, Dinah?
DJ: I think we were interacting with each other online first. I was seeing your story online of how your [solo] journey’s been critical for you, and your personal life. It started in the DMs!
RS: You are both in a resurgence era for your solo careers after being away for some time. How are you feeling on the music front?
AB: It’s been, like you said, a resurgence after having a year off, a year to myself for my well-being. It feels amazing. I feel like I’m really back. And to be back with Dinah is pretty indescribable, especially after all these years. It’s something that I can’t even really put into words. I’m feeling just so thrilled and fulfilled.
RS: What about you, Dinah?
DJ: I’m so proud of the music I’ve made on my own as a soloist. I think the only thing that was hard for me was trying to find my identity. You get stuck in the pop scene of trying to compete with everyone when really it should be only competition with yourself. It’s about going back to my roots. I have such a huge village to represent, a whole nation of people to represent. Finding power in that also played a huge part in creating my music.
AB: Yasss, Dinah!
DJ: The music has helped me find healing. It’s been very therapeutic for me. While I’m in the studio, there are so many things I want to talk about: my personal life, my experience with the girls, I definitely incorporate that. We sacrificed a lot to be with each other. I think it was just very important to always know that it’ll always be love, for me at least, and find forgiveness through that. Look at us now: We’re over here doing a collab together on a Christmas song!
RS: Ally, when there was some buzz about a 5H reunion, you said that you were reuniting with members “in a healing and empowering way.” It feels like this collab is part of that, no?
AB: Oh, yes. It’s just been fantastic to be reuniting with Dinah. I feel like me and her connected in such a special way. We had similar upbringings and backgrounds. We know the grind and the love that we have for music and for what we do. Me and Dinah loved to sing with each other. Together, we were unstoppable. We really were. To be able to reunite has been empowering. It’s really such fantastic healing.
DJ: Aww, you’re so cute. Thank you, Ally.
RS: Honestly, just speaking to you two brings up that nostalgia of the 5H days. It’s exciting to see both of you connect on that friendship that just has always existed. Are there any big memories that come to mind about those days?
AB: Do you want to go, Dinah, since I answered the last one?
DJ: Yes. A lot of great memories, of course, always will flood my mind. Actually, as I was driving to the airport, my grandma wanted to hear Fifth Harmony, and one of my least favorite songs was playing, and she was like, “You need to perform this again, ‘Body Rock.’” I was like, “Grandma, no. No, no, no, no.” [laughs]
DJ: Oh, you know what’s a good memory? Candie’s. My sister was making me play “Rock Your Candie’s,” the commercial song, and I was like, “Wow, we have records. We have bops for real.”
AB: Oh my God. That’s-
DJ: I’m just so proud of us and I reflect back like, “Wow, we really were the shit.”
AB: We really were.
DJ: No one will ever know the behind-the-scenes. For me personally, I’ve had more good than bad in my personal experience. I think of popping in each other’s rooms here and there, checking on each other, or, “Hey, want to go for a walk.” I think of Central Park in New York, like Ally coming to my room to see me.
AB: Yes, Dinah!
DJ: I just know Ally to be such a girl full of lights, and I still see that radiating through you, so it’s good to know that you’re still that light around everyone you come across, Ally.
AB: That means the world. I love you. We had so many amazing times. I loved Dinah’s pranks. We have to highlight your pranks, Dinah.
DJ: Oh my gosh, yes. I had to stop after you guys got me that good time in freaking Europe. Y’all scarred me!
RS: Fifth Harmony had a few Christmas moments, that iconic Mariah Carey cover and “Can You See.” Have y’all revisited those holiday songs?
AB: Actually, they play at random times. So “All I Want for Christmas Is You” will play when I’m at the mall or something, and I love it. It really brings back so much of those moments and those times and those days, and I love it. I’m really fond of that time. Then ”Can You See,” I love that one. That was when we were doing our thing. I love that one in particular because everyone was able to really sang in it.
RS: Since you two have this Christmas collab down, have you considered doing a non-holiday song collab or doing something else outside of this remix?
DJ: I would love to. I’m even down to just even song-write, and get into a studio.
AB: For sure.
DJ: Music is very healing. Collaborating again and starting from scratch would be a very big healer as well. This planted the seed for us, I would say. I would collaborate with any of the girls, honestly, but just to hear each other’s stories and be open with one another because we know it’s not easy out here in these streets. I think just getting to know the new us and just making sure every girl’s okay and in a better head space. I know for a fact that I went through my own storm, I can only imagine what everyone else is facing.
AB: I would love to do more with Dinah. We’re just beginning, and I’m just so glad we have the collab that we have. Especially in the world nowadays, I feel like the world needs happiness and they need something that’ll bring that magical feeling.
RS: What’s in the works for each of you?
DJ: I have some other exciting projects that I’ve been working on that should be released soon. Everything is just in motion. I’m excited to release my EP that’s in the works. It’s already ready, but I’m just like, “I need to finalize everything and get it right before I release.” So that’s exciting. I’m just really excited to finally release a bigger project. That’s all I can say for now.
AB: I second what Dinah said. I’m similar to her. I am working on new music and then new projects that I’m developing. I’m just so excited for all of it and to recharge for next year. It’ll be so good.