Sara Evans may have just recorded the most important album of her 20 year career… at least when it comes to sentimental factors. The country star is set to release her first holiday LP, At Christmas, on November 17th. When recording the album, she tearfully realized what an important legacy it will be for her family.
“The first song I sang was ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ and I kept getting choked up,” Evans tells Rolling Stone Country. “I’m always trying to think of something to give me inspiration or put me in a certain mindset. And I kept thinking, a Christmas album is very special because it’s timeless. So then I started thinking about when my kids are older and I’m dead, and they’re drunk celebrating Christmas… [laughs] listening to these songs, they’re going to be so sad. I’m just kidding, they won’t be drunk. But they’ll cry! So I want this album to be special.”
Other tearjerking tracks on the project include “Silent Night” and “Oh Holy Night,” among other standards Evans says have always moved her during the holiday season. The title track, written by Shane Stevens and Toby Lightman, is the album’s only original tune. And the singer says she’s “most excited” about “The 12 Days of Christmas,” thanks to her duet partners.
“My girls sing it with me,” she reports of daughters Olivia, 12, and Audrey, 10. “It is precious; it’ll make you cry. They have great voices.”
Evans will ring in the holidays on the “CMA Country Christmas” TV special, set to air December 1st on ABC. You can also catch her on ABC’s primetime lineup tomorrow night (October 29th), as she makes a cameo on Nashville. The appearance came after the singer met with the show’s writers to give her perspective on what it’s like to be a female artist in today’s country music world. Shortly after, she got the call that they’d written her in to an episode.
“Playing yourself, the key is to make sure that you don’t sound like you’re acting. So that was a challenge,” she admits. “I mean, I had all of three lines! But beyond speaking the lines, being a part of the scene and giving facial expressions, I wanted to make sure I was acting like the real me would act.”
Evans had a little easier time singing like her real self. In the episode, she duets with Will Chase (who plays country superstar Luke Wheeler) on her current single, “Put My Heart Down.”
“Now it’s like he’s saying and she’s saying we should both walk away from this relationship because it’s dangerous,” Evans says of the song’s transformation into a male-female duet. “Will is so professional; he sounds like a country singer. He’s incredibly talented… and so different from his character! He’s not a country boy; he’s completely opposite. But they say ‘action,’ and he becomes this country singer. It amazes me.”
Check out Evans’ Nashville cameo Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.