Unless there's a last-minute rush to the studio, there won't be many new country Christmas albums on store shelves this year. There has been some talk that the Dixie Chicks might record one -- which would be a certain bestseller -- but both the Chicks' publicist and the assistant to their co-producer, Blake Chancey, say emphatically there will be none.
As reported here earlier and confirmed by Epic Records, Billy Gilman will have his first Christmas album out this fall. Neither the title nor date of release has yet been decided.
Other new holiday packages and their release dates are Lonestar's This Christmas Time on BNA Records, Sept. 12; SHeDAISY's Brand New Year, Lyric Street, Oct. 3; and Ricky Van Shelton's Blue Christmas, Audium, Oct. 9.
Giant Records is planning a various-artist Christmas collection, which may include a cut from mandolin whiz Johnny Staats. A spokeswoman for Asylum says, "Some of the artists are recording Christmas stuff, but it's not guaranteed that they're going to put out an album." Warner Bros./Reprise was equally uncertain.
Blue Hat, Capitol, Curb, DreamWorks, Mercury, Virgin and Atlantic all report they will have no 2000 Yuletide packages.
MCA Records also has nothing new, but it is re-releasing George Strait's Merry Christmas Wherever You Are and Reba McEntire's Secret of Giving from last year. The label will also re-release Trisha Yearwood's The Sweetest Gift from 1996 with new album artwork.