5 Can't-Miss Performances at 2016 'CMA Country Christmas'

Billboard

This year's CMA Country Christmas promises to be brimming with razzle-dazzle -- and plenty of twang.

Jennifer Nettles returns to host the popular holiday special, with an even more robust lineup expected to take the stage than ever before. Filmed at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry on Election Night, the performances were heartwarming and wide-ranging, featuring landmark country veterans to pop crossovers and promising newcomers.

With 23 songs in total, the broadcast will undoubtedly get your holiday spirit going into overdrive. "The taping of CMA Country Christmas has become a treasured holiday tradition for Nashville families," CMA's chief executive officer Sarah Trahern has says of the special. "And watching CMA Country Christmas on ABC is equally important as generations gather to celebrate the season."


CMA Country Christmas airs Monday (Nov. 28) at 8/7c on ABC. Ahead of the show, Billboard takes a look at the standout performances we are most excited to see add a little cheer to our living rooms. Read on for our top five picks below.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," Jennifer Nettles and Andra Day

This 1800s traditional English carol gets a significant facelift, polished with a jazzy, Louis Armstrong-worthy arrangement. Thanks to the vocal heft of Nettles and Andra Day, this performance will surely have plenty of grit and sauce to tide us over this holiday season. The rendition is fittingly featured on Nettles' first-ever holiday-themed album, To Celebrate Christmas.

"Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing)," Kelly Clarkson

The original American Idol has all but redefined the Christmas standard with her stellar 2013 holiday project, Wrapped in Red. One of the standouts is this deep cut, a brooding song original released by blues singer Charles Brown. Soulful R&B and blues fits Clarkson like a glove, so there's no doubt this will be one of the year's most evocative moments.

"Country Christmas," Trisha Yearwood, Loretta Lynn and Jennifer Nettles

Three of country's finest female vocalists in one performance? Sign us up! While the rest of the show leans heavy on the jazz, pop and R&B, a traditional country moment is definitely needed to keep things Opry appropriate. The song is included on Lynn's brand new White Christmas Blue.


"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Brett Eldredge

Eldredge's foray into holiday music is certainly a Glow-ing showcase of his talent. Often veering into Frank Sinatra territory, the country star blends the classic with the contemporary. On recording, this reading is as smooth and buttery as the eggnog we'll all be downing by the gallons in a few weeks.

"My Favorite Things," Kelsea Ballerini

The breakout country radio star displays a very different side to her talent with her exuberant and jazzy version of this signature Sound of Music theme. Backed by 13-year-old prodigy Joey Alexander on the ivories, Ballerini could have the biggest moment of her career (so far).