“CMT’s A Tennessee Kind of Christmas,” which airs 9p/8c Wednesday, is a family affair packed with country stars, their Christmas songs and treasured holiday memories.
The special includes Amy Grant, Billy Ray Cyrus, Clay Walker, Pam Tillis, Sara & Olivia Evans, Steve Wariner, Tracy Lawrence and Wynonna at eight popular locations around Nashville.
Walker brings viewers to the barnyard for a “Cowboy Christmas” then shares his family’s tradition of taking the entire family to chop down a Christmas tree.
“This is a Christmas-loving family,” he said.
Wynonna moved into Nashville’s Cheekwood Mansion and Museum for an inspired version of “Mary Did You Know?”
“My memories of growing up in rural Kentucky were my mom and my sister and me in our pajamas,” she said. “We had nothing, but we had everything. One of the things we did for gifts was learn songs, and we would sing, and we would eat. We had no TV or telephone, so it was up to us to have creative opportunities.”
Billy Ray Cyrus remembers that he threw water on the driveway to make it freeze so he could turn it into a homemade skating rink – and he said he still throws water on his driveway every holiday season. He delivered an electrified version of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.”
“I love Frosty, Rudolph and Santa, but it’s really all about Jesus,” Cyrus says.
Pam Tillis delivers “Merry Christmas Baby” from Rudy’s Jazz Room. She shares memories of family Christmases with her dad Mel Tillis.
Amy Grant went back to Cheekwood for her “Tennessee Christmas” performance.
“I think I’m called the queen of Christmas because I recorded so much Christmas music,” she says. “But now I’m so grateful because I think those holiday tunes will outlive me. Whether you’re a churchgoer or not, it’s no surprise that Jesus is a part of the holiday.”
Tracy Lawrence took the CMT Christmas party to Santa’s Pub for a sudsy version of the Christmas song “Cold Beer.”
“I fry two or three turkeys because we have 20 or 30 people at the house for Christmas,” he says of his family’s traditions. “It’s by far my favorite holiday of the whole year.”
Steve Wariner, whose birthday is Christmas Day, sings “On Christmas Morning” from Rutledge Hall, and Sara Evans and her daughter Olivia bring an emotional version of “O Holy Night.”
Evans says she cries almost every time she sings the song.
Evans grew up in a farming family in Missouri. Her mother traded wood to a local Western store so her children could have Christmas presents.
“My Granny Floyd was perfection,” Evans says. “My earliest holiday memories were of going to Granny and pawpaw’s for Christmas Eve. And Christmas morning, my mother made this amazing breakfast. We would have everything you can think of. That became our tradition.”