For its 10th anniversary, the annual CMA Country Christmas special is welcoming a new host in country superstar Trisha Yearwood. But what happened to perennial hosts Jennifer Nettles or Reba McEntire? Read on to find out.
For the first seven years of the CMA Country Christmas, Nettles took on hosting duties with aplomb, turning in some holly jolly performances and ushering in the holiday season every December like clockwork.
“I always love the spirit of this show and the fact that it’s country music’s opportunity to host a Christmas music party,” Nettles said in an ABC interview ahead of her final year hosting. She also named her favorite seasonal songs to perform.
“My favorite traditional one is ‘Oh Holy Night.’ My favorite non-traditional Christmas song is ‘Celebrate Me Home’ by Kenny Loggins, but clearly the themes of being home and surrounded by family and friends and the theme of the holiday itself in terms of Christmas,” Nettles said.
In 2017, she stepped down from hosting and passed the baton on to McEntire, who was no stranger to hosting duties — she has hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards a record 18 times. She did tell PEOPLE that it was “hard to fill [Nettles] shoes,” but she was excited to make the Christmas special “as personal and as friendly and comfortable” as possible, not wanting it to be “such a formal event, just a friendly ‘sit down, let’s sing, let’s talk a little bit, and then sing another song’ — and with lots of heartfelt emotion.”
Yearwood is excited to take over hosting duties and she tells ABC News that she’s only nervous about one thing — “the clothing changes.”
“I’m not nervous about the songs or the hosting. I’m nervous about the clothing changes,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve never done this before, but we’re bringin’ it. There’s a lot of glitz, there’s a lot of sparkle, it’s going to be cool.”
“I’m opening with a medley, which I’m really excited about. I talked to Robert Deaton, who directs the show, about loving that whole production stuff that Jennifer Nettles always did that I can’t do. I’m not going to jump on a piano and dance … but I love that energy, so he created this really cool opening number that is a production number with dancers, but I don’t have to dance.”
The 2019 CMA Country Christmas special airs Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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