Jennifer Nettles sings Christmas tunes with the Louisville Orchestra. | Courtesy of Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer Nettles, who belts out her tunes and brightens her act with sparkling dance sets, brings her 2017 Christmas tour to Louisville on Thursday, Dec. 7.

Nettles seems to have found a home on the big stage and appears here with the Louisville Orchestra in Whitney Hall at the Kentucky Center.

Nettles came up as country vocalist and songwriter, rising to fame as the lead singer, with Kristian Bush, of the duo Sugarland. She’s been a regular host of country music award shows and TV Christmas specials.

But in recent years, she seems to be paring some of the country twang from her sound.

She sang at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, then starred on Broadway in 2015 in the musical “Chicago.” This past summer, she stepped onto a very big stage — literally — singing the role of Donna in “Mamma Mia” at the Hollywood Bowl.

The Broadway role in “Chicago” caught the ear of Forbes reviewer Hugh McIntyre, who said Nettles “breathed new life” into the role of the murderous Roxie Hart, “playing up to the crowd just enough to get people laughing.”

The critic noted that Nettles was stepping into “Chicago” for just a two-month stint.

“While some other stars who make their way to Broadway for short gigs wouldn’t have a chance if they weren’t famous,” said McIntyre, “Nettles has the kind of talent that was made for the stage, be it at a concert venue or on a theater stage.”

So a live Christmas stage show at the Whitney should glide right into the singer’s wheelhouse. It affords Nettles, 43, the chance to lead big production numbers for audiences that reach across all musical genres.

But Nettles doesn’t spend all her time hoofing. She remains, at heart, a soulful singer, as in this studio video singing “O Holy Night.”

“Christmas with Jennifer Nettles” begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7. Tickets start at $35.

“Home for the Holidays” — and “Messiah”

The Nettles appearance is just one of three holiday offerings this season from the Louisville Orchestra.

Thanksgiving 2017 will barely be in the books when conductor Bob Bernhardt leads the symphony in a Pops Christmas production of “Home for the Holidays,” on Saturday, Nov. 25. The show features Broadway singers Lisa Vroman and Doug LaBrecque and the Louisville Youth Choir.

Tickets for that show — which begins at 8 p.m. at Whitney Hall — start at $27.

The Louisville Orchestra also presents four performances of Handel’s “Messiah,” under the baton of Dr. Kent Hatteberg. The Louisville Chamber Choir joins the orchestra, with soloists Erin Keesey, Katherine Calcamuggio Donner, Jesse Donner and Chad Sloane.

Performances are:

  • Nov. 30 — Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St., 7:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 1 — Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church, 311 Browns Lane, 7:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 2 — Floyd Central High School, 575 Old Vincennes Road, Floyds Knobs, Ind., 7:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 3 — St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 1960 Bardstown Road, 3 p.m.

Top 5 Christmas Songs

Just for fun, we thought we’d offer an Insider Louisville/Bill Doolittle Top 5 Christmas Songs. And we’ll present it like DJ Johnny Randolph does with his “Top 5 at 5” every day on WAKY-FM — in ascending order.

Starting with No. 5 …

Everyone knows Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas’ is the best-selling song of all time, with over 50,000,000 records sold since its debut in 1942. If you just can’t do the holidays without “all your Christmases in white,” here’s a “White Christmas” clip, with Bing and Marjorie Reynolds, from the movie “Holiday Inn.”

Kind of a slow song, but the tempo will pick up.


No. 4 is Brenda Lee, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”


A change of pace for No. 3, it’s Thurl Ravenscroft and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” … Your heart’s an empty soul/ Your brain is ful of spiders/ You’ve got garlic in your soul.

Then it’s No. 2, a serious Christmas hymn by The Ronettes:


And, finally, Bing again, at No. 1:



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