Nashville-by-way-of-Australia duo For King & Country have been performing their hard-hitting rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” in their concerts for years, but it received a wider audience during Tuesday night’s CMA Country Christmas special on ABC.
A Christian pop group fronted by the brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, For King & Country place the drums of the holiday chestnut front and center, with multiple percussionists pounding out a rhythmic beat. It’s a transfixing performance that mixes Imagine Dragons flair with Christmastime reverence, as Joel and Luke harmonize on the verses and flail away during the instrumental breaks, earning the band a standing ovation from the Nashville audience.
“Growing up in Nashville and loving the songs that are born here, country music specifically has always been welcoming and familiar to us,” Joel Smallbone said in a statement. “So, to be invited to perform ‘Little Drummer Boy’ as part of the CMA Country Christmas felt like a lovely bear (or Santa Claus) hug, celebrating one of the great and most unifying holidays of the year.”
For King & Country have been on a roll of late with country music fans. The Grammy winners shared the stage with Dolly Parton during November’s CMA Awards and released a studio version of their single “God Only Knows” with Parton.
In 2018, the duo released their third album Burn the Ships. They have shows booked through the end of the year and will set sail on the K-Love cruise, a contemporary Christian music excursion, in January.