Kelly Clarkson brought out the big guns during her "Miracle on Broadway" Christmas benefit show on Saturday night in Nashville, an event she hopes will become an annual tradition.
Obviously inspired by the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, the more than two-hour extravaganza at Music City's Bridgestone Arena included names ranging from Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood to Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn, Kacey Musgraves, Martina McBride, Meghan Trainor (on ukulele) and ABC Nashville star Charles Esten joining Clarkson for what was a hybrid of an old-fashioned variety show and a telethon. The pretty set was decked in an almost Lawrence Welk style, with lampposts and wreaths and, in the end, "snow" falling on the audience.
Each act performed a holiday song — many classics, not all country — to a sold-out arena audience. Some, like Esten, sang duets with Clarkson, who served as the show's upbeat host, despite having visited the ER for an unspecified ailment (treated with a B12 shot) earlier in the day. Audience members were brought onstage for a "Jingle Bell Rock" competition. In Clarkson's sweet style, everyone was declared a winner.
A full band accompanied many acts, though a few played solo. In an effort to bring "a little Bluebird [Café] to Bridgestone," Clarkson and three songwriters, including Shane McAnally, performed in-the-round style (the quartet had to start a second time as the initial attempt was foiled by a microphone facing the wrong way). Audience favorites included Musgraves' "Feliz Navidad"; Clarkson, Yearwood and McEntire's harmony-rich "Silent Night"; and Clarkson's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" finale. (Watch a video of Clarkson's duet with Yearwood and McEntire below.)
Clarkson came up with the idea for the gala while sitting in traffic, and pulled it together — from guest stars to benefiting charities — in just 84 days. While some stars, including Dolly Parton, whom Clarkson asked to perform "Hard Candy Christmas," were not available on short notice, having her mother-in-law Reba McEntire sign on helped recruit some of the big names, Clarkson said.
To make her Miracle on Broadway dream a reality Clarkson established the Fruition Fund, through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to distribute funds to Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Monroe Harding Children's Home, Second Harvest Food Bank and Thistle Farms. A video about each of the non-profits and their missions was screened during the show (typically when Clarkson did a costume change). Each video showed Clarkson visiting the organization. Proceeds from the tickets benefitted the charities, as did proceeds from $10 text messages sent during the concert. Thistle Farms also had goods for sale in the lobby, for last-minute holiday shopping.
At the end of the evening, when Clarkson announced that the efforts had raised $200,000, Yearwood came back onstage and whispered in her ear. As Clarkson teared up (something she blamed on hormones — daughter River Rose was born in June) she announced that Yearwood and Brooks would match the donations, meaning the evening pulled in more than $400,000: $100,000 for each non-profit.