The annual 'CMA Country Christmas' special is one of the most eagerly anticipated programs of the year for country fans, kicking off the holiday season with a very special slate of performances from some of the top stars in country music.
The fifth annual broadcast on Monday night (Dec. 1) was no exception, featuring a mix of holiday classics and new songs from Lucy Hale, Brett Eldredge, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley and Steven Tyler and more.
Taste of Country celebrates the spirit of country Christmas with this list of the night's top performances!
It's only appropriate that the task of singing one of the most difficult songs in the Christmas songbook should fall to one of the most accomplished vocalists in country music. LeAnn Rimes turned in a spectacular version of 'Carol of the Bells,' complete with a full complement of backing vocalists and a dramatic arrangement that shifted in and out of faster and slower tempos. Few vocalists in any genre have the chops to pull this song off in a live version, let alone as flawlessly as Rimes did.
Little Big Town are one of the top vocal groups in country music, and they didn't disappoint at the 2014 'CMA Country Christmas.' The foursome gave a bluesy rendition of 'I Pray on Christmas,' accompanied only by a piano at first, then building into a funky arrangement that included a muted trombone solo. The song's catchy groove had the audience clapping along.
Jennifer Nettles hosts the 'CMA Country Christmas' every year, and she usually performs at least one special duet. This year she teamed up with Broadway sensation Idina Menzel for a stirring performance of one of the biggest songs of the year, 'Let It Go,' from the Disney blockbuster 'Frozen.' Their voices blended perfectly to produce one of the best moments of the night. How could you not sing along?
It's not easy to come up with any kind of original slant on a song as often-performed as 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,' but Dan + Shay managed it. The breakout country duo gave the standard a beautiful harmony arrangement that showcased their vocal blend in a very different way than their own music, backed by a subtle mix of piano and strings that provided another of the evening's bright spots.
Carrie Underwood is not only one of the top vocalists in country music, she's also very outspoken about her Christian faith, so it's no surprise that she teamed with contemporary Christian superstar Michael W. Smith during 'CMA Country Christmas.' The pair performed 'All Is Well,' which also appears on Smith's new Christmas album. Making her 'CMA Country Christmas' debut, Underwood displayed her full vocal range, while Smith harmonized and played the piano, backed by a full string section for the top performance of the night.