'CMA Country Christmas' Jennifer Nettles: 'Sugarland is a part of me, but not everything'

jennifer-nettles-cma-country-christmas-2013-abc-newscom-325.jpgJennifer Nettles surely is more comfortable hosting "CMA Country Christmas" this time.

When she filled that role on the ABC special last year, the Sugarland vocalist was about to deliver her first baby. In the same month her son marks his first birthday, Nettles is back for her fourth round introducing a parade of country artists performing seasonal favorites in the two-hour show Monday, Dec. 2.

(ABC repeats it both Saturday, Dec. 14, and Sunday, Dec. 22.)

"One of the things I had hoped for this show was for it to become a tradition," Nettles tells Zap2it. "As a new mom, I'm hyper-aware of that now. This is what families do; they start traditions. Things start to take on a different meaning when you're a family."

Other members of the country music "family" in the newest "CMA Country Christmas" include Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Hunter Hayes, Kellie Pickler, Darius Rucker and Jake Owen. Recent country convert Sheryl Crow also appears, as do Mary J. Blige, Lucy Hale ( "Pretty Little Liars") and Willie Robertson ( "Duck Dynasty").

"Last year, I agreed to do the show at four months pregnant, not knowing what nine months might feel like," Nettles muses. "I'm glad I did, though, because I have that time documented in a really special way. Later, I can show it to [son] Magnus and say, 'Yep, that was your crazy mom, and there you were inside her really big belly.' "

"CMA Country Christmas" also is a prelude to Nettles' first solo album: "That Girl" debuts Jan. 14, and she maintains it doesn't necessarily mean the end of her Sugarland partnership with Kristian Bush.

"I love what we've done in Sugarland. That is a part of me, but it's not everything. What it means right now is that I can't be in two places at one time. I've so wanted to be able to do a solo project, I want to give myself an open-ended timeline."

Birth date: Sept. 12, 1974

Birthplace: Douglas, Ga.

Current residence: Nashville, Tenn.

Marital status: Married to entrepreneur Justin Miller; they have a 1-year-old son, Magnus.

Other television credits: The CMA Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, "Duets," "Headline Country," "Lionel Richie and Friends," "Sugarland: The Incredible Machine," "The Kennedy Center Honors" (2009), Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon (2009), "CMT Insider," "Soundstage," "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial."

Favorite movie: "I will always say 'Say Anything ... .' I love John Cusack and his character in that. And any of the John Hughes films I loved growing up. They still work today; those characters are archetypes. And I love a good period piece. I think Cate Blanchett can do no wrong, and I've loved many of her movies."

Favorite television show you're not in: "I love 'Salvage Dawgs.' My husband and I are getting close to finishing building a home, so I love going to flea markets and finding special pieces and possibly repurposing them. And I love 'Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.' I used to love his 'No Reservations,' too."

Favorite singer: "If I had to pick my favorite vocalist of all time, I think I'd have to say Linda Ronstadt. I think she is who I emulate the most in this business. I love the power of her voice and what she has been able to do with it, and I hate that her struggle with Parkinson's is stopping her from doing what she does so very well."
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