AN ALL-STAR HOLIDAY PLAYLIST!
DOWNLOAD: "Away in a Manger"
To put his own spin on the popular Christmas carol, Paisley stayed true to his Southern roots. "The way we start is with a big double fiddle intro, and our version is a bluegrass waltz," the singer says of the tune-one of 11 included on his hit 2006 holiday CD Brad Paisley Christmas
. "I made this album because I love Christmastime," he says. "Some of my favorite music is Christmas music."
DOWNLOAD: "O Come, All Ye Faithful"
Evans didn't want to do anything too showy when she recorded the popular carol for her 2009 digital Christmas album I'll Be Home for Christmas
. "It's organic and understated," she says. "The lyrics are so powerful that I felt the music could be subtle."
DOWNLOAD: "Jingle Bells"
It wasn't exactly a winter wonderland when McCreery recorded this song for his new CD Christmas with Scotty McCreery
. "We recorded it in August with a heat wave going through Nashville," says the American Idol champ. "We were singing 'Let It Snow' in 110 degree weather!"
DOWNLOAD: "Up on the Housetop"
When it came time to choose songs for his new holiday CD A Sammy Klaus Christmas
, Kershaw was quick to pick this favorite he remembered singing in school as a boy. "I wanted to bring Christmas back," says Kershaw. "There is no big orchestra or choir section. It's like old times, with everybody just sitting around the campfire with a few instruments, singing along and enjoying the season."
DOWNLOAD: "The First Noel"
Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott kept things stripped-down for this cut off their new holiday CD, On This Winter's Night
. "We tried think about what songs hadn't been done much and what covers would be unique. It gave us a chance to be adventurous in the studio," says Kelley.
DOWNLOAD: "O Holy Night"
The trio turned back the clock to cover this classic Christmas carol. "We wanted a throwback sound-an old-school vibe-so we recorded it live," says Tom Gossin, who plays guitar alongside brother Mike and trades off verses with bandmate Rachel Reinert throughout the track. As for why the group added some holiday cheer to their musical lineup: "It's a great American tradition," says Tom. "I think everything about Christmas is good, and I like music. Put the two together and boom-'O Holy Night.'"
DOWNLOAD: "I Just Want to Be with You This Christmas"
The singer didn't just pen a modern holiday song, she did it in high-tech fashion-while Skypeing with her best friend. Still, she says, the tune's message is timeless: "It's about yearning for somebody very badly and looking forward to celebrating Christmas with the people you love."
Available in the U.S. only until Dec. 31, 2012