Country star Jennifer Nettles, the distaff half of the Grammy-winning duo Sugarland, is getting into the holiday spirit in a big way.
“If you don’t like me, don’t turn your TV on during the holidays because, basically it’s going to feel like ‘All Jennifer! All season!” she says with a chuckle on the phone from New York, describing her impending invasion of the airwaves.
She will belt out a tune atop a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday on NBC, return for the sixth time as host of “CMA Country Christmas” on ABC the following Thursday, and — back on NBC — star in the TV movie adaptation of Dolly Parton’s famous song “Coat of Many Colors” on Dec. 10.
When the Georgia native is done floating, hosting, and acting she will return to making music with a second solo album due out in March and a tour that brings her to the House of Blues Jan. 23.
Q. For the parade, do you know which float you will be on?
A. I am on the Domino Sugar Float and I will conveniently be performing [latest single] “Sugar,” of course. I do love a theme [laughs]. I was super excited when they asked me to come and participate, I thought it was a nice match and I’ve never done the Macy’s parade before, and it is so iconic. I grew up watching it and loving it.
Q. You have previously appeared on Broadway in “Chicago,” as Roxie Hart, but “Coat of Many Colors” is your first straight-up dramatic role where singing is not a main part of the gig. Did you enjoy it?
A. Yes, what a rewarding experience, artistically for me. As a songwriter I love getting to write and perform these characters for 3½ minutes. But this was such an in-detail opportunity to get to know a character and play the nuance and what a beautiful story of family and faith.
Q. The song, of course, is a classic in which Dolly details a patchwork coat her mother made out of scraps of other material for her as a child. The other children at school mocked her, but to her the “Coat of Many Colors” represented how much her mother loved her and how that love made her feel rich, even though they were poor. You are playing her mother in the film. Were you able to spend some time with Dolly and get any insights?
A. I did get some time with her before we started shooting. I have had an opportunity to meet her a couple of times, and of course she is lovely. She was very helpful for me because I did have questions for her. I asked “Was she serious? No nonsense? Funny?” And she said, “She was all of those things. She knew when it was time to get serious but she loved to laugh and have fun.” She said, “I’ll put it to you like this: My mama was me without the glitter.” And I thought, well, all right, that’s all I need to know. That I can do [laughs].
Q. You’re also returning for “CMA Country Christmas” so clearly you are still enjoying yourself. This year you have a range of folks joining you, from Martina McBride to Pentatonix to Brian Setzer.
A. Oh my God, I love it! And I feel like the caliber of talent just continues to elevate. Between the collaborations [with the other artists] and the opening number — which is always a big show tune and I get to dance, and that’s so fun for me — it’s been super-rewarding to be a part of it and watch it grow and evolve.
Q. Which artists are you performing with this year?
A. I got to perform with Brian a little bit in the closer but the biggest collaboration this year is with the violinist Lindsay Stirling on “Silent Night.” And then she does a wonderful performance with the dancers of “Celtic Carol.” Obviously it sounds great, but it’s just such a visually beautiful tableau of a moment in the show.
Q. Going into your sixth time, you and the show have probably become a part of some folks’ holiday tradition.
A. That is what I love to hear. It’s become a tradition for me but I love even more whenever I hear fans say it’s become a tradition for their family and they watch it every year together. That is definitely an honor for me.
MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
Starring Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Nettles, Jake Owen, Pat Benatar, and more. NBC, Thursday, 9 a.m.-noon
CMA COUNTRY CHRISTMAS
Starring Jennifer Nettles, Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, Kelsea Ballerini, Pentatonix, Brian Setzer, and more. ABC,
Dec. 3, 9-11 p.m.
COAT OF MANY COLORS
Starring Jennifer Nettles, Ricky Schroder, Gerald McRaney, Alyvia Alyn Lind. NBC,
Dec. 10, 9-11 p.m.
More on 2015 Holiday Arts:
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