When you tune in tonight to see Reba McEntire‘s second time hosting the annual CMA Country Christmasspecial on ABC, the Country Music Hall of Famer warns you’d better be ready for an enormous dose of yuletide cheer — from the way the halls have been decked to the way the carols are sung.
“You’re gonna see the most beautiful stage,” she explains. “Balsam Hill has done a great job with all the decorations, and when everything is lit up, and the scenes are [shown] in the back, it’s incredible looking.”
“So that’s gonna get everybody in the Christmas spirit,” adds the Oklahoma native. “And it’s working for me for sure!”
You’ll even hear a holiday tune she’s never recorded, and see a rarity in a Reba performance: choreography.
“I’m doing ‘Man with the Bag’ because [executive producer] Robert Deaton told me to,” she laughs. “And it’s a wonderful surprise tonight, because the cutest bunch of kids are dancing around me.”
“When they said, ‘We’re gonna have dancers,'” Reba recalls, “I said, ‘Ew, do I have to dance?’ And they said, ‘No, but they’re gonna dance all around you.’ And I said, ‘Perfect!'”
“And then I got here for rehearsal and they’re the cutest kids. So talented. You’re gonna love ’em!”
In addition to Reba and her dancers, the 2018 edition of the special also features Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, Dustin Lynch, Martina McBride, Old Dominion, Brad Paisley and Brett Young, as well as the legendary Tony Bennett, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, The Isaacs, Diana Krall and Lindsey Stirling.
The two-hour CMA Country Christmas premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
If you notice a little something different about Dan + Shay tonight on ABC’s CMA Country Christmas special, it’s probably because they’re still on a bit of high after the year they’ve had: In 2018, “Tequila” became the biggest song of their career so far, and the follow-up, “Speechless,” is now nearing the top of the chart.
Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney have sung on the Country Music Association’s Christmas card to the world quite a few times, but tonight, they’re taking a different approach.
“We’re changing it up a little bit this year,” Dan explains. “You know, everybody’s fallen in love with these Christmas songs over generations and generations, but, you know, traditionally we’ve stuck pretty true to the song. This year, we spiced it up a little bit.”
“We’re doing a little bit of a different arrangement on ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,'” he continues. “It’s gonna be fun. It’s a little more rockin’.”
Dan promises he and Shay will also bring the energy to match.
“We’re moving around a little bit more than we traditionally do,” Dan points out. “In the past, we’ve kinda stuck at the mic, tried to look stoic, ‘blue steel’ it a little bit in between lines.”
“Tonight we’re gonna be cruising around and having a lot of fun,” he adds. “So, it’s a little different, but hopefully the fans like it. We’re excited about it.”
You can tune in to see Dan + Shay, as well as Reba McEntire, who returns to host CMA Country Christmasfor the second time tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Old Dominion, Brett Eldredge, Brett Young, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, the legendary Tony Bennett, and many more will also help spread the yuletide cheer.
Martina McBride‘s set to make a recipe from her new cookbook, Martina’s Kitchen Mix, Tuesday on Live with Kelly and Ryan. You can catch the syndicated show after Good Morning America on most ABC stations.
Danielle Bradbery‘s I Don’t Believe We’ve Met (The Vocals) celebrates the one-year anniversary of her full album of the same title. The Vocals features stripped-down versions of three tracks: “Worth It,” “Human Diary” and “Potential.”
“Need to Breathe” is the new single from platinum-selling duo Love & Theft.
If you missed Aaron Watson and his wife Kim on Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, you can check out their appearance to promote An Aaron Watson Family Christmas on the show’s Facebook page.