The best behind-the-scenes celebrity moments from “CMA Country Christmas” YouTube/Reba

The only thing country music stars love more than getting to perform is an opportunity to see and interact with one another at some of the year’s biggest country music events. The Nov. 14 taping of the “CMA County Christmas” special gave many of them a chance to do both, and some of that interaction was hilarious.

In her first turn hosting the annual special, Reba McEntire was loose and funny, even when the cameras weren’t rolling. At one point she told the audience at the Grand Ole Opry House that she was getting so many hand signals from the stage managers, “I feel like I’m in a baseball game.”

Some good-natured picking on Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley was the top sport of the evening, with Reba kicking it off by declaring that his band mates, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott, “are saints for having to put up with” him. Later, while re-taping her intro of the band, Reba said, “I told them Charles can’t come out on the stage anymore while I’m here.”

But all was forgiven later in the evening when Reba jokingly came on to Charles, saying, “I’ll see you at dinner later.” He turned to the audience and shot back, “Reba wants me, ya’all.”

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Here’s 10 more things you probably won’t see on TV when the two-hour “CMA Country Christmas” airs Monday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. (CT) on the ABC Television Network.

1. Rare Country was seated near the families of Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman. Little Eisele, Hillary’s four-year-old daughter, was eager to see her mother perform. As her dad, Chris Tyrrell, tried to lead her out into the lobby to grab a quick snack, she adorably declared in her outdoor voice, “I don’t want to miss mommy,” causing several onlookers to chuckle. Not to worry, they were back in their seats in plenty of time to see Lady A completely nail “Silver Bells” — the second time, at least. After one false start, Charles admitted, “I did not memorize the lyrics of this song. Now you know.” He then broke into an impromptu little jingle about “the magic of TV.”


2. As Little Big Town took the stage, Kimberly sweetly whispered into the mic, “Where are you Daisy,” as she searched the audience for her 10-year-old daughter just prior to their performance of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve.” Daisy waved back until her mom spotted her in the crowd.

3. Alan Jackson and Chris Young teamed up for a beautiful version of “There’s A New Kid In Town,” but in between takes Alan acknowledged the late legend who performed it first. “It’s a tough song to sing,” he told the audience, “but nobody sings it like Keith Whitley on the original version.”

4. Alan doesn’t often show his humorous side, but the “CMA Country Christmas” live audience got a great taste of it. As Reba got ready to film her introduction of Alan and Chris, Alan unexpectedly turned a snippet of her song “Fancy” into a holiday tune, singing, “Here’s your one chance Santa don’t let me down.”

5. Both Reba and Trisha Yearwood were dressed to kill onstage. Taking note of that fact, Trisha joked to Reba, “We should go somewhere after this, or maybe just go to the grocery store like this.” Later in the night, Reba emerged in a stunning white gown to sing “Mary Did You Know” with Little Big Town, and Kimberly was so struck by her appearance she admitted, “Reba, I’m gonna have to stare.”

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6. Clad in a gorgeous red dress, Hillary Scott, who is pregnant with twin girls, rubbed her baby bump and explained her outfit. “I’m just trying to [detract] from this situation,” then added, “just kidding,” noting that there’s simply no downplaying the bump at this point in her pregnancy. She later told audience warm-up host Storme Warren that in her house, “This Christmas will be the quietest Christmas for a while. This time next year will be a whole different story,” and joked that she and Chris, “will be outnumbered three to two, and my poor husband will be outnumbered four girls to one guy.”

7. After performing what appeared to be a perfect rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” Dustin Lynch was then instructed to sing it once more time as a result of a technical problem. Before doing so, he joked to the audience, “I was apparently too good.” As Dustin was getting prepped for the do-over by stage hands, including a once-over on his suit with a lint roller, a nearby Reba jokingly complained, “I haven’t gotten this much attention all night.”

8. When Luke Bryan had a wardrobe malfunction involving a button onstage, he turned to Reba and asked if he should “just rip it off.” He then quipped that he got the clothing “at Walmart on layaway.”


9. Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild said that after the Nov. 8 “CMA Awards” aired on TV, she got a lot of social media comments about the way they were seated in the audience. “People online were going crazy saying [Kimberly] was blocking me with her big, country hair.” In response, Karen joked, “I just want to say she’s been blocking me for 30 years.” The two close friends then laughed and hugged.

10. As Dan + Shay prepped to sing “Do You Hear What I Hear,” Storme Warren told the crowd, “Shay wanted you to know he’s available to be your own personal Elf on the Shelf this holiday season.”

Tonight’s special also includes nearly 20 performances, including songs from Kelsea Ballerini, newcomers CB30, Brett Eldredge and CeCe Winans. Be sure to tune in, and let us know your favorite moments in the comments.

Phyllis Stark is a Nashville-based entertainment journalist who has been reporting extensively on country music (and loving every moment of it) for more than two decades.
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