Darius Rucker wished for snow and LeAnn Rimes asked Santa for a hippopotamus, as the two country singers joined an eclectic, superstar lineup for the annual NBC holiday special, Christmas in Rockefeller Center Wednesday night.
Bundled up in a heavy black coat and scarf, Rucker took to the stage to perform the Irving Berlin classic, “White Christmas” in his unmistakable baritone. (Watch above.) The former Hootie and the Blowfish lead singer, who’s now prepping his fourth solo country album, covers “White Christmas” on his latest LP, Home for the Holidays. He now plans on heading home to Charleston, South Carolina, — and staying put — for the holidays and the beginning of the new year, taking a break from the road to be with family.
Rimes’ family, namely her two stepsons, no doubt inspired her song choice for the midtown Manhattan extravaganza. The country-pop chanteuse delivered an animated version of Gayla Peevey’s 1953 novelty tune, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” (Watch below.) Rimes’ cover of the 1953 song appears on her new EP, One Christmas: Chapter 1. The Texas native is plotting the second and third chapters over the next two years.
Fellow country blonde Trisha Yearwood was also on the Rockefeller bill, looking regal in a black-and-white ensemble as she did her best Elvis Presley on “Santa Claus Is Back in Town.” Other Christmas in Rockefeller performers included Idina Menzel, Prince Royce, Mariah Carey, Tony Bennett with Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper, and Seth MacFarlane in a duet with Sara Bareilles. The entire group of artists helped NBC’s Today show hosts light the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree, which this year is an 85-foot tall Norway spruce.
“I know it seems like we’ve been celebrating Christmas since October,” Rimes tells NBC affiliate WWLP. “But now [the holidays] have really have begun. Everybody’s getting into the Christmas spirit, and it’s so nice to be a part of that and a part of people’s Christmas memories.”