Feature Article

CMA Country Christmas 2016

Aired On: ABC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                Iím in the mood for a little Christmas this year.  Sometimes Iím just not in the spirit of things and actually avoid Christmas specials, preferring to try to get myself in the mood with old favorites.  But this year, Iím in just the perfect mood, so why not check out some new holiday specials?  Thatís what I said to myself when I sat down and watched the CMA Country Christmas special at 8pm EST on November 28, 2016.

                Now, just to be frank, the CMA Country Christmas is not actually a new holiday special.  The show has been airing since 2012 or so with Jennifer Nettles as host, but I usually donít watch it, so it is new to me.  I particularly was surprised by the lineup.  When you have a title like CMA Country Christmas, you expect that the show will only have country music stars performing.  I was so wrong.  In addition to country greats like Jennifer Nettles, Loretta Lynn, Amy Grant, Brett Eldridge, Kelsey Ballerini, Kacey Musgraves, Rascal Flatts, Trisha Yearwood, Brad Paisley and Chris Young, we had a plethora of other famous performers.  American Idol winner and multi-genre singer Kelly Clarkson was there.  Retro-soul singer Andra Day performed.  Lilith Fair creator and award winning superstar Sarah Mclachlan was there.  Jordan Smith, winner of the ninth season of The Voice made an appearance.

                All of these stars performed great music Ė some Christmas classics and some, as in the case of Jennifer Nettles, Amy Grant and Trisha Yearwood, new songs from the performersí brand new Christmas albums.  But the most amazing performances to me were the duets.  Kelsey Ballerini sang Favorite Things accompanied by the amazing twelve-year-old jazz piano prodigy Joey Alexander.  That was a great treat.  My particular favorite performance of the night came as a complete surprise.  I love Idina Menzel, but sometimes I think that others suffer when they perform duets with her Ė Menzelís voice is just so overpowering.  But I am happy to say that Jennifer Nettles held her own in a duet performance of The Little Drummer Boy with Idina Menzel.  Dancing behind the singers, dressed as the famed Drummer Boy was J.T. Church, former finalist on So You Think You Can Dance.  He was absolutely amazing in his modern dance take on the classic Christmas song. 

                Rascal Flattsí acapella version of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, accompanied by a choir, was absolutely amazing.  Country classic Loretta Lynn, with a new Christmas album this year, performed an old favorite Ė Country Christmas Ė with Jennifer Nettles and Trisha Yearwod.  Nettles and Yearwood closed out the show with Santa, singing The Man with the Bag.

                I love Christmas music and I have to admit, CMA Country Christmas 2016 was a great way to celebrate the upcoming holiday.  I was expecting to be somewhat bored or at least a little put off by some of the versions of my favorite songs, but I really enjoyed myself, singing along to songs I knew and listening attentively to the songs I hadnít heard before.  Whether you are a country fan or not, I think CMA Country Christmas 2016 definitely fits the bill for a way to get the holiday season started off right.


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