Country music's finest took the stage at the Grand Ole Opry House on Nov. 14 for the filming of the CMA Country Christmas special — and fans will finally get to see the televised holiday-inspired performances from their favorite country artists Monday, Nov. 27.
Reba McEntire took over as host for Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, who has hosted for the past seven years, and brought her southern charm to focus on the "country" aspect of the night. McEntire's version of the night brought on hardly any non-country music artists (except for gospel artist CeCe Winans) and celebrated 19 Christmas classics by 12 musical acts.
McEntire bookended the gala, kicking it off with a Kelsea Ballerini "Jingle Bells" duet, and capping off the night with "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas" while Santa Claus roamed the aisles.
McEntire also proved why she’s associated with some of the most beloved music of the season, choosing only piano accompaniment for a stirring medley of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” three cuts off her latest (and third) holiday album, My Kind of Christmas.
She also joined Little Big Town on stage before asking their permission if she could act as the fifth member of their quartet for the night. The five break into a beautifully harmonized version of "Mary, Did You Know?"
In other blended vocals, Chris Young and Alan Jackson re-created “There’s a New Kid in Town” from Young’s 2016 Christmas album — an homage to the Jackson-Keith Whitley duet that appears on Jackson’s 1993 holiday record.
Luke Bryan ditched his usual party-boy status to deliver a twangy, solemn "O Holy Night," and was followed by Dan + Shay's dramatic rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Trisha Yearwood held back her pipes for a breathy version of "Santa Baby", but pulled out all the stops when she returned to the stage for "Hard Candy Christmas."
Kimberly Schlapman, who usually takes a back seat to Little Big Town's leading lady Karen Fairchild, took an unexpected lead on a champagne-glazed, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" before Lady Antebellum broke out the hits like "This Christmas" and "Silver Bells."
Brett Eldredge used his Sinatra-esque pipes to croon "Winter Wonderland" and "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," while Dustin Lynch followed with "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."
Alan Jackson returned to the Opry stage to lend his smooth baritone to sentimental favorite, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and a steel guitar underscores the song’s bittersweetness. Ballerini also makes a reappearance, taking “White Christmas” in a jazzy direction with a buoyant tempo and frothy high notes.
If you're just as excited as these fans for country music's biggest Christmas celebration, tune into ABC on Monday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. EST.