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Deep Dive

How Kacey Musgraves Gave Her Christmas Album a Second Life

How do you breathe new life into a years-old Christmas album? If you're Kacey Musgraves, you turn it into an Amazon variety show special.

Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour won album of the year at the 2019 Grammy Awards, but there’s another record of hers that’s equally beloved by fans: A Very Kacey Christmas, from 2016. This year, Musgraves reimagined the album as The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, an Amazon Prime Video special (out now) that channels the cheer of old-school holiday variety shows with help from guests like Camila Cabello and James Corden. And it likely won’t be the last time she revisits the album. “[Christmas] has been a big part of her career and will continue to be moving forward,” says Musgraves’ manager, Jason Owen. “She is going to have her hand in the holidays for the rest of her career.” Musgraves reflects on how she put her own spin on holiday music.


Critics have praised A Very Kacey Christmas as a modern holiday classic. What were your goals when you made it?

I genuinely wanted to create something that felt different and new but also familiar and nostalgic at the same time. It was put together based on the feelings that everyone experiences during the holidays, [so] it was important for me to stay away from any religious themes. I treated my Christmas record no differently than I would one of my regular albums. It’s not like I threw it out there to cash in on the holiday commerce.

What made you want to reimagine it as a star-studded Christmas special?

With all that was going on with Golden Hour, there wasn’t really a way that I could do a proper Christmas tour again, so I was like, “What if we made an old-school special?” It was a passion project but a big undertaking. Being a triple threat is hard work! I’m not an actor. I’m not a dancer. Doing those things in conjunction with singing and playing — and doing all of that, like, 16 hours a day for six days straight — was a big task.

The album had a mix of originals and covers. What do people want from Christmas music today?

Everything has already been said about Christmas a million times over, but one aspect you don’t hear a lot about is that the holidays are actually sad for a lot of people. There’s one song on the record called “Christmas Makes Me Cry” that talks about how every year you go home, your parents are a little bit older, [and] there are people that aren’t there that used to be. Moments like that were important for me to have.

Where do you see A Very Kacey Christmas fitting into your career long term?

Hopefully it’s something you can come back to every year. A lot of people told me they listen to it when it’s not even Christmas, like in the middle of July. That makes me feel like I created something that can work just as a [regular] musical piece for me, not just constrained to a holiday period.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 21 issue of Billboard.