In her first year as host of the CMA Christmas Christmas special, Reba McEntire definitely focused on both the country and Christmas. The special had it all. Stars sharing holiday memories, amazing duets, and McEntire joining Little Big Town for a performance that was just short of a Christmas miracle.
Back to Country
It wasn’t glitz and glam, nor was it Broadway. It was country. Despite the 25-piece orchestra, Reba managed to keep the down-home feel of the show. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the lineup was pure country.
The previous seven years, which were hosted by Jennifer Nettles, saw pop stars and crossover performances. Not on McEntire’s watch. This year, a dozen country acts performed 19 holiday favorites. Reba’s performances both started and ended the show.
She kicked off the show with a duet with Kelsea Ballerini. Together they performed the cheerful “Jingle Bells.” To end the night, McEntire performed “Holly Jolly Christmas.” This was complete with a live Santa making his way through the audience.
Reba also joined Little Big Town as their 5th member. As they sang “Mary, Did You Know?” she added her voice to the beautiful harmony the group is known for.
Other performances included a beautiful duet of Chris Young and Alan Jackson singing “There’s a New Kid in Town.” That song first appeared as a duet between Alan Jackson and Keith Whitley. It was released on Jackson’s 1993 holiday album. Chris Young spoke about how meaningful the song was to him.
“I wanted this song on that album because my favorite Christmas record growing up was the Alan Jackson christmas record,” Young told Taste of Country. “I actually sang where he sang and had him sing where Keith Whitley sang on his version. This song is just super important to me.”
Luke Bryan’s “Oh Holy Night” was another notable performance of the night, as was Lady Antebellum’s “Silver Bells.” The newest Country Hall of Fame member, Alan Jackson, performed a solo “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
In-between performances, McEntire encouraged stars to share their favorite holiday memories and stories. The CMA Country Christmas special was simply a lovely night of holiday festivities done country style. The perfect kickoff to the holiday season.