Reba McEntire, Jon Pardi, Lauren Alaina, More Join Musicians On Call Virtual Holiday Concert

For its second consecutive year, Musicians On Call (MOC) will host “Hope for the Holidays Presented by Citi,” a virtual concert exclusively for hospital patients, their families, and frontline caregivers. The concert will be available on-demand for patients and caregivers to view throughout the month of December.

The event, hosted by Cassadee Pope, will feature performances by country artists Reba McEntire, Jon Pardi, Lauren Alaina, Brett Eldredge, and Maddie & Tae, among others.  There will also be holiday greetings in video messages from Amanda Shires, Caitlyn Smith, King Calaway, Sofia Carson, Lester Holt, Katy Perry, Billy Porter, Olivia Rodrigo, Bryce Vine, and X Ambassadors.

The concert event will also feature award-winning, multi-Platinum artists, such as Michael Bublé, Kelly Clarkson, Gavin DeGraw, Grace Gaustad, Norah Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Leslie Odom Jr., Teddy Swims, Switchfoot and more.

“Hospitals are a tough place to be this time of year, but we know a dose of holiday music is exactly what’s needed to help lift spirits. Musicians On Call is honored to be joined by such incredible artists to put smiles on the faces of adult and pediatric patients, Veterans and caregivers everywhere,” says Musicians On Call President & CEO Pete Griffin. “Thanks to sponsors like Citi and the American Hospital Association, who believe so strongly in the healing power of music, we are proud to host the largest virtual holiday concert exclusively for hospitals.”

MOC will share the concert with its extensive network of hospitals around the country and has once again teamed up with the American Hospital Association (AHA) to provide access to more than 5,000 AHA member hospitals and health systems nationwide.

“We are honored to continue our support for Musicians On Call and this important cause, ‘Hope for the Holidays.’ The pandemic continues to impact all of us, but it has disproportionately impacted vulnerable groups, including our country’s hospitalized patients and their caregivers. Citi is deeply proud to help spread the healing power of music this holiday season to all those who tune in to this special virtual concert,” says Citi Interim CMO Tina Davis.

Ashley Gorley Finishes 2021 Atop MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

Ashley Gorley. Photo: Josh Ulmer

For the last MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart of 2021, Ashley Gorley remains at No. 1 for the second consecutive week.

The charting songs cementing Gorley’s place at the top are “Steal My Love” (Dan + Shay), “Take My Name” (Parmalee), “New Truck” (Dylan Scott), “You Should Probably Leave” (Chris Stapleton), “Sand In My Boots” (Morgan Wallen), “Beers On Me” (Dierks Bentley, Hardy & Breland), “Give Heaven Some Hell” (Hardy) and “Slow Down Summer” (Thomas Rhett).

Jesse Frasure moves up to No. 2 with “Whiskey And Rain” (Michael Ray), “One Mississippi” (Kane Brown), “Slow Down Summer” (Thomas Rhett), and “If I Was A Cowboy” (Miranda Lambert). Taylor Swift moves down one to No. 3 on the MusicRow chart, as her songs “All Too Well,” “I Bet You Think About Me,” “Nothing New,” “Red,” “The Very First Night,” “Better Man,” and “Treacherous” continue to chart on the country charts.

The weekly MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart uses algorithms based upon song activity according to airplay, digital download track sales and streams. This unique and exclusive addition to the MusicRow portfolio is the only songwriter chart of its kind.

Click here to view the full MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart.

Lauren Alaina Wraps Dream Defining Year With Invitation To Join Grand Ole Opry

Lauren Alaina & Trisha Yearwood. Photo: Chris Hollo

Lauren Alaina was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry over the weekend by Opry member and friend/mentor Trisha Yearwood, who surprised Alaina onstage with the invitation.

The Opry was the first major stage Alaina played just a week after she was named runner-up on Season 10 of American Idol, making her Opry debut on June 10, 2011. Earlier this fall she marked her 50th appearance on the Opry stage.

Throughout the evening, the Opry played video greetings from artists sharing their 2021 Christmas wishes. When Yearwood appeared to share her wish via video during a break in Alaina’s set, she ended with, “Hey… is that Lauren Alaina?” Yearwood then made her way on stage.

Lauren Alaina & Trisha Yearwood. Photo: Chris Hollo

“Junior [her nickname for Alaina], I have a present for you. And I have some surprises for you too. I know your Mom is here and I know your Dad is as well. He’s super proud of you right now because I have the honor of asking you on behalf of the Grand Ole Opry if you will please accept our invitation of becoming our newest member.” She continued, “You are the real deal. You’ve played over 50 times. It’s obvious what this means to you. This is a very special club to be in so you have to understand what the Opry means to be asked. It’s such an honor. Country music is in good hands with you. Soak up every second!”

An overcome Alaina dropped to her knees and accepted, saying, “I did not expect this. You are my hero. I could not have picked a more perfect person to ask me. She calls me Junior–y’all I’m in her phone as Junior which is the coolest thing to have happened to me besides this!”

Yearwood duets with Alaina on her Gold-certified song “Getting Good” from her recent album, Sitting Pretty On Top of the World, and also wrote the foreword to her just-released inspirational book Getting Good At Being You.

Alaina will be formally inducted into the Opry family in early 2022.

Other 2021 career highlights for Alaina include announcing her second career headlining tour, “On Top Of The World Tour Presented By Maurices,” which will kick off in February 2022, starring in her first Hallmark Channel movie Roadhouse Romance, (which became the No. 1 most-watched entertainment cable program of the day and week), performing the National Anthem at Game 5 of the World Series, becoming a CMA Artist Ambassador, and more.

Blake Shelton Closes The MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart For 2021

Blake Shelton ends 2021 on a high note as his single, “Come Back As A Country Boy,” tops the final CountryBreakout Radio Chart of the year. The song was written by Michael Hardy, Josh Thompson, and Jordan Schmidt and appears on his deluxe album, Body Language. 

Shelton will be the featured artist for The Artist Interview, sponsored by BMI, at CRS 2022 in February. He will sit down with Country Aircheck Publisher/CEO and host of Westwood One’s Country Countdown USA, Lon Helton, and will speak candidly on his career, artistic process, and what’s on the horizon.

Shelton also plans to expand his chain of music venues, Ole Red in the coming years with plans to open a location in Nashville International Airport (BNA) for 2022 and the Las Vegas Strip for 2023.

Click here to view the latest edition of The MusicRow Weekly containing the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart.

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Brett Eldredge, Raleigh Keegan, Mickey Guyton

Brett Eldredge. Photo: Andrew Eccles

As usual at this time of year, the country stars are out in full force with holiday music.

This genre has created a bountiful harvest of enduring Christmas standards in the past–”Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Blue Christmas,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Tennessee Christmas,” “Christmas Time’s A-Comin,’” “Mary Did You Know,” “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” “There’s a New Kid in Town” and the Gene Autry classics “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman,” to name just a few. If there’s a song here that could join that hit parade, it might be “New Star Shining” by Orleans.

The Disc of the Day in this second installment of our holiday-music overview belongs to Brett Eldredge, “Mr. Christmas,” himself.

Give a DISCovery Award to Raleigh Keegan. Happy Holidays.

KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS / “Let’s All Get Together and Fight”
Writers: Richard O. Young/Greg Martin/Doug Phelps/Fred K. Young; Producer: none listed; Label: Practice House
–Sung in a woozie, boozie drawl, this has built-in humor. The jazzy phrasing bends blue notes and lags behind the beat, creating a stoned atmosphere that makes it sound all the merrier. In case you’re wondering, Grandma throws the first punch at the holiday family reunion.

CODY JOHNSON / “Pretty Paper”
Writers: Willie Nelson; Producer: Trent Willmon; Label: Warner Music Nashville/CoJo
–Cody has this year’s stone-country Yuletide collection, A Cody Johnson Christmas. On it, you’ll find the Texan’s honky-tonk takes on “Away in a Manger” and other traditional favorites, as well as this holiday weeper originally popularized by Roy Orbison in 1963. I love the sad Christmas songs. This one, penned by Willie, tells the tale of the down-and-out pencil salesman who weeps while everyone else celebrates. Cody’s country phrasing on it is superb.

ORLEANS / “New Star Shining”
Writers: John & Johanna Hall; Producer: Lance Hoppen/Michael Malfesi/John Hall/Fly Amero; Label: Sunset Blvd.
–The group’s John Hall has settled back in Nashville, and the durable pop/rock band is working again. The title track of its first Christmas album became an instant classic when it was recorded by James Taylor and Ricky Skaggs 35 years ago. The Orleans version is drenched in beautiful stacked vocal harmonies and accompanied by delicate acoustic guitar plucking. Get this fine record via the band’s website.

THE HOBBS SISTERS / “Please Come Home for Christmas”
Writers: Charles Brown/Gene Redd; Producer: none listed; Label: HS
–This Nashville country duo dusts off this classic Charles Brown blues tune from 1960. It’s a somewhat white-bread outing, compared to the original. But it goes down smoothly.

JOSH TURNER / “Soldier’s Gift”
Writers: Tom Douglas/Scooter Carusoe; Producer: Kenny Greenberg; Label: MCA Nashville
–Catch Turner on Monday (Dec. 20) starring in A Belmont Christmas on PBS. This is also a chance to see inside the school’s gorgeous new Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. The country baritone’s holiday album King Sized Manger contains this heart-tugging salute to those who serve our country. The beautifully produced track is guaranteed to bring a lump to your throat, and the rest of the album is just as dandy.

BRETT ELDREDGE / “Mr. Christmas”
Writers: Ross Copperman/Brett Eldredge; Producer: Jay Newland/Rob Mounsey; Label: Warner Music Nashville
–This is the title tune of Brett’s second holiday album (following 2016’s Glow). Like its predecessor, it is a pop tuxedo-crooner collection. At first, I was put off by his ditching the twang, but I have gradually come around to his stylistic shift for Christmas recordings. “Call me Mr. Christmas, I’ll make your spirits bright,” he sings while a brass section blazes and the finger-popping tempo carries you along. You know what? This country Sinatra does make your spirits feel bright. Play and smile.

RALEIGH KEEGAN / “Blue Christmas”
Writers: Billy Hayes/Jay Johnson; Producer: Raaleigh Keegan/ Chad Judd; Label: RK
–He sings so well. The pace is excruciatingly slow, but be patient with it. His phrasing and the production’s tastefulness will eventually win you over. “Blue Christmas” was introduced by country stars Doye O’Dell (1948) and Ernest Tubb (1950), then immortalized by a rather sloppy Elvis rendition in 1957. Raleigh makes the holiday standard his own.

STEVE WARINER / “Feels Like Christmas Time”
Writers: Rick Carnes/Steve Wariner; Producer: none listed; Label: Selectone
–Steve’s middle name is Noel, because his birthday is Christmas Day. Who better to have a holiday album? It’s a festive mix of classics, new tunes and guitar instrumentals. The title tune is a delightfully jazzy ditty, sung with lilting sincerity and embellished with wafting woodwinds and his dazzling string dexterity. Get it on vinyl at the Opry gift shop.

ALEX HALL / “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
Writers: Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane; Producer: Alex Hall/Pete Good; Label: Monument
–Alex turns in the best vocal performance of his career to date on his reading of this wistful evergreen. Song was originally introduced by Judy Garland in the excellent 1944 family film Meet Me in St. Louis.

MICKEY GUYTON / “O Holy Night”
Writers: Public Domain; Producer: Karen Kosowski; Label: Capitol
–I usually associate this classic with power-voiced divas who can send shivers up your spine with the finale octave leap. Mickey isn’t a leather-lunged belter, but she brings exciting soul shadings and terrific vocal inventiveness to her version of the song. Well done.

STEVE HOLY / “A Christmas to Remember”
Writers: Joe H. Hunter/Sam Hunter; Producer: none listed; Label: Curb
–The title tune of Holy’s Christmas album is an original song that twinkles with good will. His gentle vocal is framed by a soft orchestral arrangement. An easy-listening outing.

CLARE DUNN / “Wanna Go Home for Christmas”
Writers: Clare Dunn; Producer: Clare Dunn; Label: Big Yellow Dog
–I remain a fan. She’s a sensational singer, and she rocks out splendidly on this original holiday tune.

Jimmie Allen Talks His Banner Year, Building His Business, & Fostering Talent Early [Interview]

Jimmie Allen. Photo: Shea Flynn

2021 was good to country star Jimmie Allen.

This year the multi-Platinum singer-songwriter released his latest star-studded collaboration album, Bettie James Gold Edition, and currently has a top 10 single with Brad Paisley on “Freedom Was A Highway.” He joined both Paisley and Nelly on their respective tours, and recently announced he will hit the road on his own headlining tour, the “Down Home Tour 2022,” in February.

Jimmie Allen and Brad Paisley on the set of the “Freedom Is A Highway” music video. Photo: JT Colston

The “Make Me Want To” singer also took home several big trophies this year, including the ACM New Male Artist of the Year award and the CMA New Artist of the Year honor. He also received the only country nomination in an all-genre category for the upcoming Grammy Awards, and will be competing for Best New Artist at the January ceremony.

While Allen was visibly honored by the wins at both the ACM and CMA Awards, he says it wasn’t something he was focused on at the top of the year. “I never start a year saying ‘I want to win this award and that award.’ My goal every year is to make an impact and widen my platform to where I can help other artists.”

Helping other artists has been a big part of Allen’s work over the last few years. At only 36-years-old, Allen has launched multiple businesses and regularly shines a spotlight on rising artists. He believes it’s better for him to bring up his peers and protégés now while he’s on the rise, as opposed to starting entertainment companies when he’s hit the crest of the career. It’s a strategy he’s observed from hip-hop culture.

“I love the way that hip-hop culture did it, especially Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne signed Drake and Nicki Minaj. Drake signed The Weeknd and took him out. It’s all about using your platform to break your artists,” Allen says. “If you sign someone, you’re investing. The more successful they become, the more successful your business becomes. I’m trying to take that same approach and do it in the country world.”

Earlier this year, Allen established Bettie James Music Publishing, a publishing venture with Sony Music Publishing Nashville, and signed his frequent collaborator and bass player Tate Howell.

Pictured (L-R): Leo Brooks (of Neon Union), Aaron Benward, Jimmie Allen, Andrew Millsaps (of Neon Union). Photo: Courtesy of JAB Entertainment

A few weeks back Allen announced JAB Entertainment, a full-service management and production company he launched alongside partners John Marks and Aaron Benward. The company’s first signing for the company is Neon Union, a duo comprised of Leo Brooks and Andrew Millsaps that was featured on the track “Livin’ Man” on Bettie James Gold Edition. Neon Union will join Allen on the “Down Home Tour 2022.”

“When I was first getting started I had other artists and songwriters reaching out, but I wasn’t in a position to help,” Allen says. “You can only help others after you help yourself. You can’t pull somebody up if you’re not up. But I eventually got to the point where I could help.”

In addition to his music and business ventures, the multi-hyphenate entertainer also found time to publish his first children’s book My Voice Is a Trumpet this year, as well as collaborate with Elton John on The Lockdown Sessions, launch his own Bettie James Fest music festival, and serve as Executive Music Producer for the Netflix series Titletown High.

Allen also competed on the 30th season of Dancing With The Stars, and even reached the quarterfinals. He says the gig was an opportunity to expose more people not only to his music, but to country music in general.

“For me, it’s all about expanding and reaching people that don’t listen to country radio. I tell people all the time: my music is never going to change. I’m always going to be a country artist, I’m always going to have songs on country radio, I’m always going to be at country award shows and country festivals. But how do we get people that only listen to pop to know who Jimmie Allen is?

Jimmie Allen celebrates Platinum success on “Make Me Want To” and multi-Platinum success on “Best Shot.” Photo: ABC/Paula Lobo

“How do we get, not just for my music, but [the music of all] country artists to new markets? You have to place yourself there. They have to see you,” Allen says. “You have to come in first as a person—because that’s what they got to see on Dancing With The Stars. They saw Jimmie Allen, the person. Jimmie Allen the person warms them up to check out my music.”

When it comes to Allen’s Grammy nomination, he sees it as another chance to represent country music on a global stage.

“I didn’t even realize it until my publicist told me that it was an all-genre category. For me it says a lot about country music and about where we are,” Allen shares. “This Grammy nomination isn’t about winning. It’s about being the face of country music. If people can see that country music has accepted me, other people will feel comfortable getting in this business, whether it’s on the artist side or the business side.”

As for 2022, the sky is the limit for Allen.

When asked about his goals, he lists securing a record deal for Neon Union, executing a successful headlining tour, pushing “Freedom Is A Highway” as far as it will go on the charts, and continuing to build his brand and businesses.

“My biggest goal, though, is continuing to motivate people. That’s my goal for every show. I want people to leave a Jimmie Allen concert becoming better people than they were when they walked in, More inspired to love themselves, to make sacrifices, and take risks to achieve their goals,” he says.

Although he’s humble about his Grammy nomination, Allen wants to bring a win home in January. “Let’s bring this Grammy back to Nashville!” the entertainer says with a laugh.

To watch Allen compete in the Best New Artist category, as well as other Nashville acts vie for Grammy wins, tune in to the Grammy Awards on on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, broadcasting live on the CBS Television Network and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+ at 8 – 11:30 p.m. ET.

The George Jones Museum & Restaurant Closes Permanently

The George Jones Restaurant, Museum and Rooftop. Photo: Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

The George Jones Restaurant, Museum and Rooftop has announced that it will be closing its doors permanently.

Located on downtown Nashville’s 2nd Avenue, the museum first opened in 2015 to honor the late country legend George Jones, as well as provide a place for his many fans to enjoy food and live music. However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum has struggled like many other businesses.

The George Jones Restaurant, Museum and Rooftop. Photo: Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

“It has been a difficult 2 years for so many-our company has been no different. From the pandemic all the way through to the 2nd Ave. bombing one year ago—we have fought for what is right for our loyal staff and local partners. As many business owners know, between the workforce shortages and difficulty with consistency of products, it is a challenge day to day (to say the least) to make a business viable,” the museum shared on social media.

“For these reasons, it is with a heavy heart that we announce we are closing The George Jones Entertainment Venue after a beautiful run. The museum and all of its contents are being handled with care. There will be more to come on where this exhibit will land next,” the post continued. “We would like to extend a big THANK YOU to all of the fans, guests, staff (present and past) local partners and friends that have come through our doors over the last few years. We feel so fortunate to have shared terrific memories, food, drink and music.”

RECORDS Nashville Taps Josh Easler & Joe Fisher For Leadership Positions

RECORDS Nashville has appointed Josh Easler as Executive Vice President of Promotion and Commercial Strategy, and Joe Fisher as Executive Vice President. Both Easler and Fisher will report to Barry Weiss, RECORDS’ Co-founder and Partner.

Easler comes to RECORDS from Sony Music Nashville, where he most recently served as Vice President of Promotion at Arista Nashville. While at Arista, Easler achieved two No. 1 country radio hits for RECORDS Nashville/Arista Nashville’s Matt Stell in the last two years, including the Platinum “Prayed For You” and Gold “Everywhere But On.” With this news, Stell becomes an exclusive RECORDS Nashville artist.

Based out of the company’s Nashville office, Easler will oversee all radio promotion as well as all commercial strategy which includes all DSPs, commercial platforms, and the like for RECORDS Nashville artists Stell, Erin Kinsey, George Birge, Chris Bandi and more.

Fisher joins RECORDS Nashville having previously spent most of his career at Universal Nashville, where he rose to VP of A&R under Luke Lewis. Most recently, Fisher has been working with Justin Timberlake on his Villa 40 Nashville label venture. Additionally, Fisher founded Boom, a publishing company with Keith Urban and Ross Copperman in 2017.

In his new role, Fisher will oversee the signing, developing, and cultivating of new talent for the label.

“We are so excited to be leveling up and raising the game with our efforts in Nashville and country music,” says Weiss. “I can’t think of two better executives to take us forward and achieve this task than Josh Easler and Joe Fisher. They’re both established superstars in their respective fields in country music with great pedigree and substantial track records.”

“Barry has assembled one of the most dynamic teams in the business and an incredible roster of new talent. I’m excited to work with this amazing group of executives on breaking the next vanguard of country artists,” shares Easler.

Adds Fisher, “I’ve respected Barry from afar for my entire career. He’s a true music man and one of the industry’s most visionary executives. The only thing more impressive than his track record is his passion for music. When he called, there was only one answer. I’m immensely honored to join the RECORDS team and kick off this new chapter.”

Parker McCollum Reaches Top Of MusicRow Radio Chart

Parker McCollum’s “To Be Loved By You” sits at the peak of the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart after earning 1,680 spins this week and 43,740 total since its release.

McCollum co-wrote “To Be Loved By You” with Rhett Akins and it appears on his latest album Gold Chain Cowboy.

This week, McCollum was named one of the CRS 2022 New Faces of Country Music alongside Gabby Barrett, Walker Hayes, Jameson Rodgers, and Lainey Wilson.

He also announced the launch of an NFT fan club with the help of MusicFX, a new entertainment NFT platform from full service blockchain platform provider CurrencyWorks Inc. Read more about the new venture here.

Click here to view the latest edition of The MusicRow Weekly containing the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart.

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Lori McKenna, Katie Pruitt, Dan + Shay

Lori McKenna. Photo: Thomas Heney

It’s that time of year again.

As usual, Nashville musicians have an abundance of holiday offerings, so welcome to the first of the DISClaimer Christmas review columns. Today, we have super worthy efforts by Exile, the Pistol Annies, Dan + Shay and Amanda Shires.

The Disc of the Day belongs to Lori McKenna, for co-writing the strongest new holiday song in this stack and singing it with her customary yearning loveliness. For sheer inventiveness, Katie Pruitt wins the DISCovery Award.

TIGIRLILY / “Where Are You Christmas”
Writers: James Horner/Mariah Carey/Wilbur Jennings; Producer: Louis Newman; Label: Monument
–The sister duo updates Faith Hill’s wistful holiday ballad with tinkling piano and lilting fiddle to start with. A full string section gradually builds the arrangement into an oomphy anthem.

DAN + SHAY / “Officially Christmas”
Writers: Dan Smyers/Dave Barnes/Jordan Reynolds/Nicolle Galyon; Producer: Dan Smyers/Scott Hendricks; Label: Warner
–Over the past couple of years, these guys have become country music’s go-to Christmas heralds. Their holiday songs are top downloads. This year’s entry is a joyous-sounding fiesta, complete with horns, violins and sleighbells. As usual, they sing their faces off. There’s a promotional video, too.

KATIE PRUITT / “Merry Christmas Mary Jane”
Writers: Katie Pruitt; Producer: Katie Pruitt & Mike Robinson; Label: Rounder
–At last! A holiday stoner song! This Nashville singer-songwriter lays down a bluesy groove on this slow jam: “My Christmas spirit’s running low, so I might as well get high.” She knows those decorative holiday lights are going to look super good that way. Check out this talented gal’s cool guitar solo, too. Pruitt will be peddling her special holiday gummies at her Dec. 16 show at the Basement East.

EXILE / “Joyful Noise”
Writers: J.P. Pennington/Sonny LeMaire/Sharon Vaughn; Producer: Exile; Label: Clearwater
–In a word, gorgeous. These guys still have the goods in every department. The vocals are flawless, the songwriting is splendid, the playing is perfect and the mood is toasty warm on this sparkling ballad. Miss this one at your peril.

THE PRIMITIVE QUARTET / “Carolina Mountain Christmas”
Writers: Reagan Riddle; Producer: Greg Bentley; Label: Mountain Home
–This North Carolina gospel quartet wraps its harmonies around four classics and four newly written songs on its Christmas collection. Among the latter is this toe-tapping hearty wish for good holiday times to one and all.

PISTOL ANNIES / “Hell of a Holiday”
Writers: Angaleena Presley/Ashley Monroe/Miranda Lambert; Producer: Frank Liddell/Eric Masse; Label: RCA
–What a gift. The rumbling backbeat grabs ya from the get-go. Their feisty vocal charms soon take over in this uptempo audio delight. It’s the title tune from the trio’s Christmas CD/LP, embellished with sax, electric guitar and percussion. Essential accompaniment for dancing around the tree while you hang ornaments and drink eggnog.

AMANDA SHIRES & THE McCRARY SISTERS / “Gone for Christmas”
Writers: Amanda Shires; Producer: Lawrence Rothman; Label: Silver Knife/Thirty Tigers
–This Americana favorite slam dunks an R&B groover with this merry track from her debut holiday album. For her Christmas-present wish list, she cites a bunch of clever stuff (her own radio station, a massage on a beach), but mostly she wants him gone from her life. While the beat stomps relentlessly, the McCrarys echo her sentiments with soul-sister harmonies. Rockin.’

MITCHELL TENPENNY / “Don’t Hang the Mistletoe”
Writers: Jordan M. Schmidt/Kyle Clark/Mitchell Tenpenny; Producer: Mitchell Tenpenny/Jordan M. Schmidt; Label: Riser House/Columbia
–His furry, burnished voice is perfect for this. It’s a slow jam with distinct R&B flavors and romance on the brain. Tenpenny’s holiday album is titled Naughty List.

TAMMY ROGERS & THOMM JUTZ / “Dancing in the Snow”
Writers: Tammy Rogers/Thomm Jutz; Producer: none listed; Label: Mountain Fever
–Bluegrass rhythms and harmonies abound in this sprightly wintery romp. The team plans an entire album of their cowrites next month, to be titled Surely We’ll Be Singing.

LORI McKENNA / “Still Christmas in Nashville”
Writers: Lori McKenna/Jordyn Shelhart/Dustin Christensen; Producer: Lori McKenna/Luke Laird/Barry Dean; Label: CN Records
–Lori introduced her Christmas Is Right Here EP with a sterling showcase at the Hutton’s Analog venue on Tuesday. It is a heart-tugging outing with some of her original sad holiday tunes (my favorite kind), plus a version of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and this stately waltz. It’s an ode to “the city that dreamers built.” You’ll smile when you hear her name checking “meat-and-threes” and “John Prine” in this terrific tune. Have I mentioned that I adore her?

DON AMERO / “Sometimes a Whisper”
Writers: Adam Crossley/Bill Diluigi/Dave Tough; Producer: none listed; Label: MDM
–This Canadian is an indigenous country artist who is much applauded north of the border. His seasonal CD is titled Amero Little Christmas and contains this softly sung inspirational ballad that could easily live well beyond Yuletide.

ROD & ROSE / “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
Writers: Rodney Atkins/Rose Falcon/Brandon Hood/Skip Ewing; Producer: Brandon Hood; Label: Curb
–Rodney Atkins and Rose Falcon offer this beautifully sung, heartfelt ballad that sums up The Reason for the Season. Rod sings lead while Rose shadows him in perfect vocal harmony. Hang on for when they are joined by the angels-we-have-heard-on-high echoey chorus. Definitely your religious musical choice.