The cast of the CMA Country Christmas special will never forget where they were on election night (Nov. 8).
While the world watched as Americans voted president-elect Donald Trump into the Oval Office, performers Kelsea Ballerini, Kelly Clarkson, Andra Day, Brett Eldredge, Amy Grant, Loretta Lynn, Sarah McClachlan, Idina Menzel, Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Jordan Smith, Trisha Yearwood, Chris Young and host Jennifer Nettles caroled the night away at the Grand Ole Opry for a packed house of 3,500 country fans.
It’s interesting to observe that two of the CMA’s biggest year-end events happened within one of the most electric weeks in American history. The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series since 1908 on the night of the 50th annual CMA Awards, and the country’s silent majority elected a new president on the night of the CMA Country Christmas taping.
Backstage at the Opry was decked out in a winter wonderland with a photo booth and stations to decorate cookies and ornaments, the latter of which will be auctioned to support music education through the CMA Foundation. Each act who visited with media shared their favorite Christmas memories and what it meant to them to ring in the holidays together with their country family.
Nettles said reliving the night by tuning into the holiday special on television is just as much fun as hosting the event.
“In the moment, the show is a bit of a blur, to be honest,” Nettles said, “because I’m just so, ‘Go! Go! Go! Put me here! Put me there!’ But I do enjoy that live show vibe, rhythm and pacing. That for me is really fun. I enjoy it differently being in it than I do watching it. But I enjoy it both.”
She added that the lineup was primarily determined on who has new Christmas music out.
“Some people are like, ‘Why didn’t you invite so-and-so?’” she said. “First of all, I don’t invite people and second of all, usually it depends on who has put a Christmas record out. It’s people wanting to come and celebrate these albums that they’ve made. This year we have a great crop of artists who have put out records this year — everybody from Kacey Musgraves, to Brett Eldredge, to Chris Young.”
This is Nettles seventh year to host the event, which had her sharing the stage with Day, Lynn, Menzel and Yearwood. The show airs Nov. 28 on ABC.
Check out some of the photo highlights from Tuesday night:
Kacey Musgraves and the Quebe Sisters
Jennifer Nettles and Idina Menzel
Jennifer Nettles and Andra Day
Jennifer Nettles and Trisha Yearwood