Thursday, December 8, 2011

“CMA COUNTRY CHRISTMAS” RE-AIRS SATURDAY, DEC. 17 ON ABC

Two-Hour Special, Hosted for the Second Year by Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, Features Interviews with Artists and their Families and Performances of Holiday Classics by
Lauren Alaina, Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Brian Setzer with Special Guest Brad Paisley, Sugarland, Keith Urban, and Vince Gill with Miss Piggy!

NASHVILLE – “CMA Country Christmas,” hosted for the second year by Jennifer Nettles, of reigning CMA Vocal Duo of the Year Sugarland, re-airs Saturday, Dec. 17 (9:00-11:00 PM/ET) on the ABC Television Network.

“Viewers now have a second opportunity to experience the music, memories, and stories of the season with some of our format’s biggest stars and their families,” said CMA Chief Executive Officer Steve Moore. “Fans have been calling since the original airing asking for more, and we are glad to give them a second helping.”

Artists who perform in the special and share their favorite holiday traditions include Lauren Alaina, Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Brian Setzer with special guest Brad Paisley, Sugarland, Keith Urban, and Vince Gill with Miss Piggy.

The performances are outstanding, but some of the most insightful and fun moments of the program are interviews with several of the artists and their children including Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts and his wife, Allison, and infant daughter, Madeline (11 months), talking about Madeline’s first “interview” op; and McBride and her daughters Ava, 6, Emma, 13, and Delaney, 16, sharing their favorite family recipe.

Pulling heartstrings on the homefront, Pickler, who was joined by new hubby Kyle Jacobs for her fireside interview, talked about the sacrifice of American service men and women overseas and the personal impact of their selfless dedication to freedom and country. On a lighter note, during the special Pickler performed “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” with dancing elves.

Other highlights include Paisley adding blistering guitar grooves to Setzer’s take on “Sleigh Ride” and “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”; Hill’s breathtaking a capella version of “Little Drummer Boy” surrounded by a choir; and several performances by Gill, who performed “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)” with wife Grant, a solo rendition of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and then cozied up to a bawdy Miss Piggy for a hilarious take on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Outstanding vocal harmonies are a hallmark of the program with breathtaking performances from Little Big Town on “Santa Claus is Back in Town” (with Urban providing guitar licks) and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”; and Rascal Flatts, who performed “White Christmas” and “Mary Did You Know.”

American Idol runner-up Alaina and reigning winner McCreery made their first appearances on the special with Alaina performing “Grown Up Christmas List” and McCreery lending his trademark baritone to “The First Noel.” Urban also made his first appearance on the special in 2011 performing “The Christmas Song” (days before undergoing vocal cord surgery).

Returning in 2011 were two crowd favorites: Rucker, who performed “Winter Wonderland” and McBride, who added her soaring vocals on a jazz-influenced “Please Come Home for Christmas.”

In addition to her hosting duties, Nettles opened the special with a rocking version of “All I Want for Christmas” and then, joined by Sugarland partner Kristian Bush, turned poignant for a stripped down and powerful performance of the holiday classic “Silent Night.” Capping the special is a full cast performance of “Jingle Bells.”

“CMA Country Christmas” is a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton is the executive producer, Paul Miller is the director and David Wild is the writer. The special was shot in high definition and broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound. The special has a PG-TV audience rating.

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