The Holidays, Country Style
Named vocal group of the year for the fifth year in a row at the 2007 Country Music Awards, Rascal Flatts has recorded nine number-one singles and sold out tours across the United States. As they sit on top of the country music world, Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus say their success feels like a dream. "To do what we love to do for a living, it's unbelievable. It's incredible," Joe Don says.
The group performs their hit song "She Goes All the Way"—what Oprah doesn't know is that she's about to get a big surprise!
"We had to get you," Jamie says.
Gary and Jamie say they concocted the surprise with Oprah show producers—despite the fact that Oprah isn't a fan of surprises. The group just couldn't resist giving Oprah an unexpected holiday treat. "Jamie and ourselves did this song on our new record, and we know how big of a fan you are of Jamie," Gary says. "So, Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Thanksgiving!"
After recording "She Goes All the Way" together, Jamie and Rascal Flatts met up to perform the song at the 2007 Country Music Awards. "It's beautiful coming together to be in Nashville when we did the CMAs," Jamie says. "It's a great song."
Amy first broke onto the Christian music scene with her 1979 album, Amy Grant. In the 1980s and 1990s, she charmed mainstream pop listeners with her albums Heart in Motion and House of Love.
Vince has been entertaining country music audiences since his debut in 1983. In nearly 25 years, he has sold more than 22 million albums and accumulated numerous awards, including nearly 20 Grammy Awards.
At age 50, Vince was awarded another major honor—an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. "It was amazing," Vince says. "There's a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame called the Rotunda, where the plaques of all of the artists that have gone in. [I was] just walking around that room and realizing that every one of those people in that room affected my life."
Amy impressed Vince so much that he wrote the song called "All About a Smile" in her honor. "I thought when I walked away that I'd just seen the most beautiful smile I'd ever seen in my life," he says.
When they met, both Amy and Vince were married to other people. Years later, after both of their marriages ended, they reconnected. In 2000, the couple married in Tennessee. "I was glad he was in the world, and now I'm glad I wake up with him," Amy says. "That's how I feel."
Despite their star status, the down-home couple describes their life together with one simple word—normal. "That's, I think, what maybe drew us to each other, was the fact that we, neither one, took our success very seriously," Vince says.
Blending families can be a long and emotional process, but Amy and Vince made it work. In her book Mosaic, Amy recalls the conversation in which she and Vince's daughter Jenny came to terms with their new relationship. "Slowly, awkwardly, we outlined a kind of truce between us. What she could tolerate. What we were willing to accept in each other," Amy writes. "Over the years, little by little, meal by meal, birthday by birthday, phone call by phone call, Christmas by Christmas, card game by card game, trip by trip, movie by movie, conversation by conversation, we became family."
Jenny says the transition from being an only child to having four siblings was a little weird at first, but not for long. "They welcomed me with open arms. We all get along so great," she says. "Through the years, we got to know each other really well, and we have a blast."
With the schedules of seven busy people to contend with, Amy and Vince say they look forward to spending their holidays together. "What I love about this time of year is that you stop. You slow down," Vince says.
Vince, an avid golfer, splurged on a golf green that's just a few steps from his front door. "It's kind of my little place to sneak off and hang out, and practice putting, chipping," he says. "I really don't need a yacht or a home in the Hamptons. I've got a little place to hit golf balls, and I'm a pretty happy camper."
Amy's never shared her secret hideaway with the public...until now! Cameras follow Amy to her farm in the country, where she says she goes to relax and write music. This spot is also special because it's where Amy and Vince said "I do."
Unlike some celebrities, Amy doesn't equip her country retreat with all the comforts of home. In fact, she says her cabin doesn't have cable, running water or bathrooms. If nature calls, Amy and her guests use the outhouse.
Over the years, she says she's written many songs in her country home. "If I'm looking for something really raw, somehow this cabin does it for me," she says. "I collect hymnals, and I find for me a great trigger is to go to just remember songs that I knew from the time I was a kid. ... I wait until I sing something that chokes me up."
"I have to say, I love me some Kenny," Oprah says.
In 2008, Kenny will celebrate his 50th year in music, but he's not ready to fold 'em just yet. "We were talking about doing a farewell tour, [but] there's something so final about that," he says. "So we decided to do a 50-year anniversary [tour, and] call it 'the first 50 years.'"
Though he's sung some of his hits too many times to count, he says he never gets tired of singing the songs that helped make him a household name.
Watch Kenny sing two of his biggest hits!
"That's such great ammunition...when you go onstage to know no matter how badly I screw up in the first half, I've got 'The Gambler' and 'Lady' at the end," he says. "I told someone the other day that getting there is not as much fun as it used to be, but once I get there, there's no place in the world I'd rather be."
These days, Kenny spends a lot of time at home with Justin and Jordan—his 3-year-old identical twins—and his older sons, Chris and Kenny. "Here's what I've learned about raising boys...if you keep 'em busy, they're fine," he says. "You let 'em get bored, they'll dismantle your house board by board."
He's also learned a lot about love over the years. When Kenny married Wanda, he didn't write vows like most grooms. Instead, he composed a special song for his bride-to-be.
"I wrote a song for her that I called 'As God As My Witness,' and I thought it was a very cool song that said everything I wanted to say," he says. "I'm much more comfortable singing than talking. No, it was something I really had always wanted to do for her."
Kenny shares some of the lyrics with Oprah. "Once in a lifetime, the right love comes by and with no rhyme or reason you never know why," he sings. "You just wake up one morning and nothing's the same for you. The kisses taste sweeter. The touch just feels right."
For the past 25 years, Kenny has kicked off the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving with one of many Christmas concerts. "We have 28 days of Christmas, and then we go home Christmas Eve," Kenny says. "By that time, I'm ready for New Year's Eve...the first noel has happened too many times."
Kenny's Christmas tour is truly a family affair. "[My son] Chris used to come onstage with me, and from the time he was 2 years old until he was 5 or 6," Kenny says. "He'd get up there, and he just had the best time. Now, the [twins] will come out during this year's Christmas show."
Christmas carols aren't the only songs Kenny's twins love to perform with their famous father. "Justin will come out and sing 'The Gambler,'" Kenny says. "I defy you to understand one word of it."