For its eighth annual outing, CMA Country Christmas has Reba McEntire overseeing the big event for the first time. “Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles did it before, so I am just gonna try and fill her shoes,” says the icon.
Here, McEntire, who just re-released her third Christmas album, My Kind of Christmas, reveals more of her plans for the big party.
How is the special shaping up so far?
We have this beautiful set on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. It’s being decorated by the [tree company] Balsam Hill, and they do such a wonderful job. The range of artists is so great—I’ll sing with some of them, and some of them are singing their own songs. I will also interview them, and we’ll tell stories about growing up. You know, share some Christmas memories!
Behold, the genre’s MVPs!
Who are the musical guests on tap?
We’ve got Brett Eldredge, Kelsea Ballerini, Little Big Town, Lady A.…
Is that what we call Lady Antebellum now?
Oh yeah, that’s what I call them now! [Laughs]
When you were a little girl, did you perform in school Christmas concerts or anything?
It’s funny you should ask. The first time I was ever behind a microphone, I sang “Away in a Manger” in the first grade at our Kiowa, Oklahoma, Christmas program.
What’s your favorite carol?
“O Holy Night.” I love that song because of the minor keys in it, and the harmony is just fantastic. I think I have done it on two of my three Christmas albums.
'Christmas in Rockefeller Center' will air live on NBC. 'Today' anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker will host the annual tree lighting celebration.
And have you picked out your Country Christmas outfits yet?
Of course! [Laughs] It’s going to be very festive and glamorous—and nostalgic. I think what we want is to get everybody in the mood. The show airs right after Thanksgiving, so we want to say, “We’re through with Halloween and Thanksgiving…here comes Christmas.” Let’s get them in the spirit!
CMA Country Christmas, Monday, Nov. 27, 8/7c, ABC