Country Music Cruising into the Holidays

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas and our 2023 Country Music Cruise artists have a lot to do with it!  They’ve brought endless holiday spirit into our lives over the years, and we wanted to share some of the songs that bring us joy every year.

Back in 1985, Randy Owen blessed us with what has become one of our absolute favorite songs of the season, “Christmas in Dixie.” We love the original version and the unplugged version. We even loved it when Randy joined Kenny Chesney for a duet and then Home Free on their a cappella rendition!

We fall in love with Clay Walker’s Christmas album every time we hear it. He captures the glory of Christmas by singing with a full orchestra and by the time he gets to the chorus of “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” alongside an organ and full choir, we can’t hold back the tears.

The Oak Ridge Boys have so many beloved Christmas songs that they hold a series of concerts every year just to make sure we get a chance to hear them all! The Oaks’ Christmas in Tennessee Dinner Show is in Nashville this year from November 23 through Christmas Eve.

We can always count on Mark Chesnutt to remind us how fun Christmas can be. After just a few bars of “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy,” we’re singing and dancing around the house like nobody’s watching.

Neal McCoy does “Merry Christmas Darling” like no one else. We love the way his vocals shine on this holiday standard and how he adds in just the right amount of country guitar notes with some twinkling piano and a gorgeous string section.

If you can’t get to Nashville for The Oak Ridge Boys, we hope you’ll get a chance to see Pam Tillis during her “Belles & Bows” tour. A mix of holiday songs and country hits, it’s a great way for country music fans to celebrate the season.

Our pals in Asleep at the Wheel remind us to not get too carried away with the holiday spirit with their hilarious cautionary tale, “Christmas in Jail.” Thank you for keeping us off the naughty list!

If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, check out “Please Come Home for Christmas.” The melody is irresistible, the lyrics are sweet, Johnny Lee’s vocals are flawless, and we can’t get through it without goosebumps and tears.

John Berry’s rendition of “Oh Holy Night” always stops us in our tracks and brings us back to what Christmas is all about. His 26th Annual Christmas Tour kicks off the day after Thanksgiving and wraps up right before he joins the Opry Country Christmas Show on December 22.

Jimmy Fortune sings about our favorite ways to spend Christmas Eve in “Christmas Country Style.” A roaring fire, trimming the tree with popcorn, looking for that mistletoe and inviting our loved ones over – we can’t wait for it to get here!

When the cold wind blows a little too hard and the snow piles up a little too high, we listen to T.G. Sheppard’s “Christmas in Mexico” (a duet with his lovely wife Kelly Lang) and our hearts instantly warm up.

Moe Bandy adds a special country flair to the holidays with “A Cowboy’s Christmas,” telling the story of a young man’s quest to get back home and the memories he holds forever of being with family, time-honored traditions and finding that perfect tree.

Janie Fricke released her first Christmas album, A Cowgirl Country Christmas, just two years ago, filled with so many classics and a very special new song co-written by Janie (and Jeff Steele), “The Followers.” It’s already moved to the top of our holiday playlist, and we can tell you that it was worth the wait!

Gary Morris lets the lyrics take center stage on “Every Christmas,” an album full of beautiful renditions of songs we love so much. The arrangements are delicate and, at times, understated to let Gary’s voice shine and the message of the songs soar.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge bring a little bluegrass into the holiday season with their rollicking classic, “Christmas Time Back Home.”

The Malpass Brothers don’t have to worry about getting home in time to see their family for Christmas, they just bring them on the road with them! Catch one of their shows on the “A Malpass Brothers’ Christmas” this year. They even have their own ornament this year and, yes, we’ve added it to our Christmas list.

And, we can always count on Ray Scott to bring some fun to the party, like his grownups-only song about a certain Santa mishap.

Chuck Mead might have the most Christmas spirit of us all. Not only does he have a song for every one of the days (in his “Twelve Songs of Christmas”), but he also just produced the Million Dollar Quartet Christmas cast album from the holiday rock n’ roll musical.

And did you know that our Cruise Host, Nan Kelley, recorded a Christmas song with her husband, producer/songwriter Charlie Kelley? They released “Meet Me Under The Mistletoe” back in 2010 – their first musical collaboration!

We hope you enjoy these songs from our 2023 Country Music Cruise artists and have a wonderful holiday season.