Music

Thomas Rhett, Lauren Akins to Host 'CMA Country Christmas'

Thomas Rhett, left, and his wife, Lauren Akins, arrive at 67th Annual BMI Country Awards ceremony at BMI Music Row offices on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Al Wagner/Invision/AP)

Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins will help country music fans get in the holiday spirit as first time co-hosts of ABC's CMA Country Christmas special.

The couple was announced as the 11th annual holiday special's hosts on the Nov. 11 edition of ABC's Good Morning America (GMA). That same night, Rhett sang "Be a Light" with Reba McEntire and Chris Tomlin during the 54th annual CMA Awards. Lady A's Hillary Scott was originally slated for Wednesday night's performance, but she and her bandmates were among the artists to cancel appearances due to coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions.

"We can't wait for you all to get to watch that and get into the holiday spirit with us," Rhett said during his GMA appearance (as quoted by UPI).

"I feel like this year, everyone's needed things to celebrate and look forward to and so it was like the second Halloween was over...I started decorating for Christmas," Akins added.

The CMA Country Christmas TV special airs Monday, Nov. 30.

The first round of confirmed performers lists Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, Lady A, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and the duo of Darius Rucker and Lindsey Stirling.

Executive producer Robert Deaton promises a less-is-more presentation as an answer to COVID-19 concerns.

"The idea for this year's show was to do a throwback of the great Christmas specials of the 1960s and 1970s," Deaton said in a statement (as quoted by The Boot). "Andy Williams, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra all had classic Christmas specials where the viewer was invited into the homes of the host to celebrate the holiday like a best friend coming to visit. That was what we wanted to create for this year's show. Instead of a big flashy production, we took a page from those iconic specials to say, 'Come relax, and let's celebrate the holidays together.'"

Previous hosts include McEntire, Trisha Yearwood and Jennifer Nettles.

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As most fans now know, Lauren was the inspiration and star of the music video for Thomas' breakthrough hit single "Die A Happy Man." They've since become one of Nashville, Tennessee's most adorable superstar couples, thanks in part to their three daughters we're all watching grow up on social media: Willa Gray, Ada James and Lennon Love.

The CMA special isn't the only fresh, country music-themed programming on tap this holiday season. Dolly Parton will perform what's being billed in a press release as "an intimate, candlelit set" of holiday favorites on her new primetime network special A Holly Dolly Christmas (airing Sun., Dec. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. PT on CBS and CBS All Access).

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Thomas Rhett, Lauren Akins to Host 'CMA Country Christmas'