"Happy holidays, y'all!" It wasn't a greeting that you might expect from the maestro of the Boston Pops or the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, but coming from the conductor of the Nashville Symphony, it seemed perfectly natural. That's how Maestro Albert-George Schram welcomed the audience December 10, when Martina McBride joined forces with the Symphony at Nashville's David Lipscomb University for a night of Christmas music titled Martina McBride: Home for the Holidays.

Martina has a long history of sharing her love of Christmas with audiences. She has taken the spirit of the season across the country with her Joy of Christmas tours in years past, and on this night, it was obvious that she still enjoys the warm songs of of the holidays.

The show began with a 30-minute opening set featuring the Symphony that ended with the audience joining in a sing-along of familiar tunes. Then, as Mr. Schram put it, "the best damn warm-up band in the land" took it up a notch as they prepared for Martina to take the stage. She didn't keep her anticipating fans waiting long; when she emerged in a stunning white pantsuit with silver bling to the strains of 'Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,' the enthusiastic crowd roared their approval.

Martina sang with a heart that clearly showed her own joy of the season, engaging fans with versions of 'Do You Hear What I Hear?' 'White Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song,' which she told the audience was a personal favorite that always gets her "in the Christmas spirit." The Symphony was a marvelous canvas for her clear voice, providing a perfect backdrop for Martina to deliver stirring renditions of familiar favorites. She also included a cover of the popular 'Jingle Bells,' which she explained she had recorded with a special arrangement for children to enjoy. It is one of 16 tracks on her 'White Christmas' album, re-released in 2007.

Then, Martina took a brief interlude from the spotlight to introduce celebrated Nashville radio host Gerry House and his sidekick Mike Bohan. Together, the personalities spoofed the Clement C. Moore classic poem, 'A Visit from St. Nicholas.' Martina returned wearing a shimmering silver evening gown, and turned the mood of the show to the more sacred, traditional Christmas carols such as 'O Come, All Ye Faithful' and 'Silent Night' and 'What Child is This?'

The night's show-stopper, though, was the a cappella rendition of 'O Holy Night.' The moment was so vital that the audience was stunned into complete silence by the end of the song until, suddenly, the whole building erupted into wild applause and cheers. It was the crowning moment of a night of great holiday music from Martina and the Nashville Symphony, a thrilling combination too good to miss.

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