‘CMA Country Christmas’ TV Special Ushers in the Holidays
For the seventh year in a row, the CMA Country Christmas TV special will help country music fans get in the holiday spirit from the comfort of their homes. The two-hour variety show, which airs Monday night (Nov. 28) on ABC and was filmed at the Grand Ole Opry in early November, will be hosted by Jennifer Nettles and include performances by Brett Eldredge, Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Young, Idina Menzel, Loretta Lynn, Amy Grant and many more.
"It's a Christmas party that country music is hosting, where everyone is welcome: friends, family and all kinds of music and musicians," Nettles told the crowd during the show's taping. "You are all invited!"
Nettles herself performed several songs for 2016's CMA Country Christmas special, including "The Little Drummer Boy" with Idina Menzel and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" with Andra Day, both whom appear with Nettles on her new holiday album, To Celebrate Christmas.
“I like to think that it took me seven years to audition all this music to find out what I wanted to sing the most,” Nettles shared with reporters before CMA Country Christmas' taping. “It’s about time; it’s the year to do it.”
During CMA Country Christmas, viewers will also see Nettles sing the Lynn-penned tune "Country Christmas" with Lynn and Trisha Yearwood; "The Man With the Bag" with Yearwood; and a solo rendition of the Louis Armstrong tune "Cool Yule." In addition to her duet with Nettles, during the show's taping, Yearwood performed "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" while Kelsea Ballerini and 13-year-old piano prodigy Joey Alexander treated the crowd to the The Sound of Music classic "My Favorite Things." Ballerini also offered up "The Christmas Song," backed by a full orchestra.
Rascal Flatts joined in on the CMA Country Christmas fun with "Joy to the World" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," both featuring the a cappella group Voices of Lee, who appear on the Flatts' new Christmas album, The Greatest Gift of All. Young, meanwhile, was joined by Brad Paisley to sing "The First Noel" (the two perform the carol together on Young's recently released It Must Be Christmas album); Young also performed "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)."
"My mom's here tonight, along with my whole family," Eldredge shared from stage, before launching into "O Holy Night." "Growing up, I sang this song every year, up in the church choir loft. My family always gets mad when I don't sing up there anymore, so this goes out to my family. It's one of my favorite songs."
During his time on the CMA Country Christmas stage, Eldredge also shared "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!," both of which appear on his holiday album, Glow, released earlier this year. Kacey Musgraves sang "Mele Kalikimaka" and "Christmas Makes Me Cry;" Kelly Clarkson performed "Run Rudolph Run" and "Please Come Home for Christmas;" and Amy Grant shared her classic "Tennessee Christmas," also the title track of her newest Christmas record.
CMA Country Christmas viewers will see a few of the non-country stars invited to participate in the TV special give solo performances, too: During the taping, recent The Voice winner Jordan Smith sang "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," while Day performed "Someday at Christmas," and Sarah McLachlan offered "O Come, All Ye Faithful."
Even with all of the evening's star-studded performances, for Nettles, the best part of the annual CMA Country Christmas show remains the opening number, which, this year had the host showing off some impressive dance moves.
“I always look forward every year to the opener," Nettles shared, "because it’s a big show opener, with huge production — dancing and lights and lots of fun madness."
The 2016 CMA Country Christmas TV special begins at 8PM ET on ABC. On Wednesday night (Nov. 30), Nettles will appear in the NBC made-for-TV movie Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, which continues the story of Dolly Parton's childhood that began with 2015's Coat of Many Colors. The film premieres at 9PM ET and will be available on DVD on Dec. 20.