Behind the Scenes at 'New Year's Rockin' Eve': Thomas Rhett, Gloria Estefan & More

Thomas Rhett
Erika Goldring/FilmMagic

Thomas Rhett performs onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn. 

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest is about to kick 2016 to the curb, but before the show hits the air at 8 p.m., Billboard is giving a sneak peek of the party, which features performances by Mariah Carey, DNCE, Thomas Rhett and Gloria Estefan, who is set to perform with the cast of her Broadway musical, On Your Feet!

Rhett rehearsed his set earlier on Saturday (Dec. 31) in Times Square at the stage located at 46th Street, and his two-song set -- which included the Grammy-nominated “Die a Happy Man” and “T-Shirt," plus "Vacation" -- received big reactions from revelers peering over the barricades. Rhett was relaxed in a brown suede jacked, print T-shirt and black ripped jeans as he led his band through two soundchecks. By the second run-through, Rhett was fully engaged with the audience, working both sides of the stage and clearly ready for his big night.

“I've watched this show in my living room since I was seven or eight years old," the 26-year old Tennessee native tells Billboard. "It's always been a tradition in my family to watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve, so to actually be here in Times Square and in the middle of all of these people, and performing on the show, is a dream come true."

Rhett is gearing up for a big 2017: he is nominated for a Grammy for best country song for "Die a Happy Man" (co-written by Sean Douglas and Joe Spargur) and is about to hit the road for his Home Team tour on Feb. 23.  To promote the trek, Rhett donned a "Home Team" guitar strap as he strummed an acoustic guitar for "Die a Happy Man."

Speaking on the song's success, Rhett humbly tells Billboard he "just happened to hit at the right time with a song about my wife."

As for his New Year's resolution to "get back in the gym, quit a couple of bad habits and be a better person," he does have a goal set to start work on his next album. Rhett says he is looking into "duet options" for the next album.

"We are getting in the studio in January, and we have so many songs," he says. "We are going to keep cutting songs until we figure out which 10 or 15 songs we want to present to our fans. Making a record is one of the most fun times of the year for me, just to get in there and be creative."

Carey rehearsed earlier in the afternoon, and Estefan was on the tightest schedule of all -- rehearsing her number with the cast of On Your Feet at 7:22 p.m. -- one hour before broadcast. Other songs on her set include "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," "Everlasting Love," "Turn the Beat Around," "Conga," "Get On Your Feet" and "Oye."

Fans looking to join in the fun on the ABC broadcast can hashtag pictures of their at-home parties and Times Square pictures with: #RockinEve, #Hello2017, #Harmonizers2017, #RockinShawn, #NiallRockinEve, #2017WithMariah or #AllNightLong.

The ABC program, as always, is at the forefront, showcasing the biggest names in pop music on the five-and-a-half hour show, which begins at 8 p.m. EST and for the first time ever will feature countdowns from multiple time zones. Seacrest and co-host Jenny McCarthy will usher in performances by Carey, DNCE, Estefan and the cast of the Broadway show On Your Feet!, and Rhett live in New York City from Times Square.

Meanwhile, Fergie will keep the party going at the Billboard Hollywood Party, performing two songs of her own while bringing on performances by Alessia CaraG-EazyBebe RexhaMartin GarrixEmeli SandeFifth Harmony with Ty Dolla $ign and Kid InkFlo Rida with Macy KateHailee SteinfeldJohn LegendLukas GrahamMike PosnerNiall Horan and Shawn Mendes.

And Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale will make history hosting the first ever Central Time Zone countdown -- complete with the traditional fleur-de-lis drop atop Jax Brewery -- with performances by Jason Derulo and Panic! At the DiscoDemi Lovato, who performed in Times Square last year, will bring in 2017 in a much warmer climate streaming live from St. Maarten, and Lionel Richie will perform the very first song of 2017 live from Las Vegas.

"People ask what's going on in the show and the list gets longer and longer," Seacrest said of the broadcast, which will celebrate its 45th anniversary on the air.



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