Martina McBride Launches 'Cozy' Christmas Tour
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Martina McBride knows a thing or two about Christmas. Released in 1998, her classic holiday set "White Christmas" has sold 1.6 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and her version of "O Holy Night" has become a standard.

McBride continues to share her love of the holidays with fans on her 16-city "The Joy of Christmas Tour," which kicked off this past Friday in Atlanta.

"I've been looking forward to this tour so much," she told Billboard. "I'm excited to be out there on the road and make this happen. It's such a fun tour, and such a limited time that we get to do it. We've tried to make every aspect of Christmas come to life."

McBride admits she's no stranger to holiday-themed tours, but this one is going to feel a little different. "We've done three years of the Joy of Christmas tour. The last one we did was in 2006, so it has been a while. It's a similar show, but we're doing a smaller production. We're doing a lot of theaters, which I am super excited about because it just feels more like Christmas. It's a lot more intimate, and not as large of a scale. I'm excited about being a little more cozy, and the show is a little more focused."

How does it feel for McBride to know that her music has become such an integral part of the holidays for many of her fans. "When I made the album, I specifically wanted to make it classic and traditional, and make an album that would stand the test of time. I think that's what has made it come back year after year. It's great to be a part of other people's tradition. My dad listened to 'Blue Christmas' year after year, and I remember putting on certain albums when we would open our presents. To think I am in people's houses on Christmas morning is pretty awesome."

The four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year winner can be heard on the new country edition of the A Very Special Christmas album, as her version of "Please Come Home For Christmas" is featured. She confessed that it brought her full circle. "I was working at Musicland as a teenager when the very first A Very Special Christmas record came out, and we played it in the store. So, to be part of that compilation all these years later is really cool, and it's also special to me because it benefits Special Olympics," she said. A video for the song was filmed in nearby Franklin.

She won't be waiting long to hit the stage once the Christmas tour wraps up, as she will be the opening act for George Strait's "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour, which commences January 18 in Lubbock.

"It's really special. I got to be a part of his show last year, and figured that was it. You get to open for George Strait once in your life, and to be asked back for this tour - you can imagine what that phone call was like. It's such an honor, because he could have chosen anyone in country music. I was so surprised and shocked that he called me. I'm so grateful," she says, also slyly admitting there just might another incentive to opening for the Hall of Famer. "I get to see twenty George Strait shows next year, which is pretty amazing - on top of getting to open for him," she says.

The Joy of Christmas Tour Dates:

Nov. 29: Green Bay, WI (Time Warner Cable Theatre)
Dec. 1: Milwaukee (Milwaukee Theatre)
Dec. 6: Kingston, Ontario (K-Rock Centre)
Dec. 7: Westbury, NY (Theatre at Westbury)
Dec. 8: Williamsport, PA (Community Arts Center)
Dec. 9: Long Branch, NJ (MAC Center at Monmouth)
Dec. 12: Springfield, IL (Prairie Capital Convention Center)
Dec. 13: Pittsburgh (Benedum Center)
Dec. 14: Albany, NY (The Palace Theatre)
Dec. 15: Lowell, MA (Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
Dec. 17: Fayetteville, NC (Cumberland County Auditorium)
Dec. 20: Kansas City, MO (The Midland by AMC)
Dec. 21: Chicago (Chicago Theatre)