Yuletide Carols — By State

From grocery stores to malls, holiday shoppers are starting to hear their favorite Christmas songs in the air wherever they go.

As radio stations switch their programming to Christmas music — and Spotify and Apple Music see a decided uptick in Christmas musical fare — Verizon has ranked the most popular holiday song in each U.S. State.

According to Verizon, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is the most searched Christmas song in the country, with 11 of 50 states Googling it more than any other song. However, according to Google Trends, Ariana Grande’s Christmas ballad “Santa Tell Me” is being searched more across the nation than Carey’s classic.

And in Texas? “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” — otherwise known as “The Christmas Song” — is the most popular Christmas song this year. It’s also the top song in California.

FinanceBuzz, meanwhile, commissioned its own survey determining the most popular Christmas songs in each state, and in that analysis, Texas’ favorite is “Feliz Navidad,” while the nation’s most popular tune is Eartha Kitt’s 1953 classic, “Santa Baby.”

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Texas-Style Sass

Morgan Ashley is providing an apt addition to the Christmas soundtrack with her playful, Texas country version of the holiday classic “Santa Baby,” now available on streaming platforms.

Ashley’s version of the 1953 Christmas tune delivers the fun list of extravagant gifts we all know so well — a ’54 convertible, a yacht and the deed to a platinum mine — with the help of holiday bells, an electric guitar and a Texas fiddle.

“I’ve always wanted to record this song,” the College Station native says. “I love the sass in the lyrics and knew we had to deliver it as a true Texan would.”

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Courtesy CBS

Gambling on the Holiday

There’s a Christmas tradition that’s been in Maren Morris’ bones for more than a decade. “We go to my mom’s side of the family — typically on Christmas Eve — and we do White Elephant or Bad Santa,” Morris says. “Then we play Left Center Right — a dice game you win money on.”

Morris noted that Left Right Center is something she and her loved ones have been playing for some time, adding, “A little Christmas gambling is fun. You can get loud and crazy and boisterous with your family and sometimes walk aways with some ones. Then we go back to my parents’ house and have Christmas cookies and watch Christmas movies and fall asleep.”

While Morris has plenty of holiday festivities to look forward to this month, the singer also is reflecting on the year she’s had, and how the tour in support of her latest album, Humble Quest, which kicked off in June and came to a close Dec. 2, holds a special place in her heart. “My professional highlight was just being able to headline a tour,” Morris says. “I haven’t gotten to do that since 2019, so being able to curate every detail of your show — the set list, the merch, the set design — it’s something I love doing and got to execute this year.”

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Courtesy NBC

Voice of the People

Lizzo obviously has a big following, but her No. 1 fan, she says, is definitely her mom, Shari Johnson-Jefferson. So it was all the more special that Johnson-Jefferson presented Lizzo with the People’s Champion Award at the 2022 People’s Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California, Dec. 6, and praised her daughter when she took the mic.

“She’s a champion of others — she builds you up and is always in your corner,” Johnson-Jefferson said of her daughter. “She’s shown us we don’t have to conform to anyone’s standards in order to be happy, to be creative and to feel worthy. She has has literally saved lives”

When Lizzo, 34, took the stage, she said she was hesitant to receive the award. “I’m going to be honest,” the musician said while addressing the crowd. “When I first heard about this award, I was on the fence about whether I should accept it, because I don’t need a trophy for championing people.”

The singer added, “I’m here tonight because to be an icon isn’t about how long you’ve had your platform. Being an icon is what you do with that platform. And since the beginning of my career, I’ve used my platform to amplify marginalized voices.”

Lizzo then used the rest of her acceptance speech to honor female activists who’ve made a difference in their communities such as Emilia Guereca, president of the Women’s March Foundation, and Esther Young Lim, the creator of booklets explaining how to report a hate crime.

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Clarkson with River Rose (Mark Von Holden, courtesy NBC)

Date Night

Kelly Clarkson turned the People’s Choice Awards into a mother-daughter night out.

The singer brought 8-year-old River Rose to the awards show. When her eponymous talk show won daytime talk show of 2022, Clarkson ended her acceptance speech with a shout-out to her plus-one and son Remington Alexander, 6, who was at home.

“This is awesome,” Clarkson said onstage as River Rose cheered from their table. “I’m having a date night with my daughter!” The American Idol alum continued, “This award is very cool to get. This is where the people vote, and for the last 20 years that’s been my career — because y’all have been supporting me for that long.”

She concluded, “Thank you all so much — I’m going to go have ice cream with my baby girl!”

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George & Tammy

With 30 chart-topping hits between them, George Jones and Tammy Wynette earned the title of Mr. and Mrs. Country Music many times over. But their tumultuous private life put an end to their passionate marriage in 1975 after just six years, leaving a string of hits and heartbreak in their wake.

Their complicated love story is explored in the six-part miniseries George & Tammy, starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chasten in the title roles, which premiered Dec. 4 on Showtime.

The production was “a process of laughing and crying” for Georgette Jones Lennon, the couple’s only daughter. “It’s been a crazy emotional rollercoaster,” she says. “But it’s therapeutic because you start thinking about things you tucked away a long time ago, whether it be painful or even good memories.”

For Lennon, whose 2011 memoir The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George formed the basis of the script, the series offered more than an opportunity for reflection and catharsis. It also provided the chance for fans to get to know her parents as she knew them. “People look at them as superstars and forget they’re human,” she says. “Like everyone, they had their faults and their good traits.”

Lennon, 52, hopes viewers will see beyond her father’s one-dimensional reputation as the hell-raiser behind “No Show Jones,” “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” She recalls him first and foremost as a loving grandfather to her twins, often conjuring impromptu songs to make them laugh.

“I want people to see him not as that outlaw country singer,” Lennon adds, “but as the human being who loved and laughed and cared, but struggled with his own demons — which he did finally conquer, thank God.”

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Dolly & Willie

In an interview on Proud Radio with Hunter Kelly, which debuted on Apple Music Dec. 4, Dolly Parton, following her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in November, reflected on her friendship with Willie Nelson, whom she met long ago as a songwriter in Monument Records founder Fred Foster’s office.

In 2020, Parton recorded a version of Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” for her Holly Dolly Christmas album, and he added a vocal part from afar. They reprised the song together in person for Parton’s new Mountain Magic Christmas special, now on Peacock, and found themselves reflecting on loss and the passage of time.

“He came in his bus, stayed in his bus for the two days he was there, filming the thing,” she says. “We talked about all of our friends from the past that we had lost and that we knew, and talked about, “Ah, we’re old enough to be out of here, but here we are. We’re still doing our thing.”

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Juan Perez-Fajardo

Space Jam

In his round X-ray specs and solar-system button-up, Garrett T. Capps looks like he’s just emerged from the farthest reaches of outer space. The San Antonio musician sounds like it, too. Since forming his band NASA Country in 2017, Capps has been working to introduce an unconventional new sound into country music, one that mixes the electronic, experimental hum of Kraftwerk with the cosmic hippie twang of Doug Sahm. Capps calls it “Kraut-country.”

Perhaps shockingly, it works. Capps’ new album, People Are Beautiful, is an urgent, inventive reimagining of Texas music. He sings with a traditional country inflection about topics like spiritual visitations and social unrest. Fat, hollow-bodied guitar chords butt up against manipulated percussion. A member of NASA Country plays modular synthesizer, turning knobs and fiddling with patch cables to create one-of-a-kind tonal effects. Capps sees it as a progressive alternative to the safe and polished sounds coming out of Nashville, or even out of some parts of his native Texas.

“San Antonio’s music scene is a little all over the place. It feels like we’re in the shadows of Austin, a high-caliber music scene,” Capps says. “But the art scene is tight-knit here, and because of my involvement with live music, I’ve gotten to know restaurateurs and visual artists and people who aren’t just musicians. That’s how the NASA Country band came together. We didn’t get together to go on tour; I organized the band to record the album.”

“We’re a pretty unique band,” he adds. “We’re experimental rock ’n’ roll and country music. I think I’m carrying the flag in some way for all that.”

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Courtesy Austin City Limits

St. Vincent On Air

St. Vincent is set to host a new podcast from Audible and Double Elvis titled History Listen: Rock. It’s billed as an in-depth look at “key moments that formed legendary movements within the genre,” and it’s said to be created for “music addicts and casual listeners alike.” The podcast will highlight artists like Big Mama Thornton, Sex Pistols, Bad Brains, Jimi Hendrix, and Patti Smith, among others. History Listen: Rock will debut Jan. 12.

“It’s been so fun going back through rock history and revisiting some of my favorite artists and songs, including a bunch that don’t get the recognition they should,” St. Vincent said in a statement. “When you put it all together, you can see how history repeats and echoes through generations, how music links the past to the present, artist-to-artist. And some of these stories are absolutely wild.”

St. Vincent’s latest studio album, Daddy’s Home, which won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in April, was released last year. It includes the singles “Pay Your Way in Pain,” “The Melting of the Sun” and “Down.” Last year, she also shared the soundtrack for The Nowhere Inn, her collaborative film with Carrie Brownstein.

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Folklore Finds a Home

A trove of sound recordings, manuscripts, photographs and ephemera from the blues and folklore archive of Robert “Mack” McCormick, who documented music and culture, especially that of Texas, will get a new home at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.

McCormick’s daughter, Susannah Nix, gifted the archive to the Smithsonian, which plans to start making it available to scholars — and displaying some of its items at the Archive Center — in the summer of 2023.

McCormick was a self-trained folklorist who began documenting and collecting material in the 1950s. Even as he battled mental health problems later in life, he continued his research and collecting before he died in 2015 at age 84 in Houston.

If McCormick’s extensive archive wasn’t proof enough of his devotion to traditional folk music and blues, he was also the guy that actually unplugged Bob Dylan at Newport in 1965 — the year Dylan went electric. It’s not exactly the Pete Seeger with an axe legend, but McCormick said he pulled the plug on Dylan during his rehearsal with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band because he needed the stage so a group of former inmate singers he’d assembled, who’d never performed together, could rehearse.

In total, McCormick’s collection comprises 590 reels of sound recordings and 165 boxes filled with material that, as Smithsonian Curator of Music, John Troutman, put in a statement, “yields revelations about the lives of many significant early- and mid-century blues artists,” such as Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Bernice Edwards and Robert Johnson.

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Bey’s Power

Beyoncé has each done her fair share of dominating Billboard’s charts, and, for the second consecutive year, she’s made her way into Forbes’ rankings as well. On Dec. 6, the publication unveiled its list of the world’s 100 Most Powerful Women, with Queen Bey at No. 80, one spot behind Taylor Swift.

Forbes’ list is a yearly ranking of high-profile women wielding substantial public influence, and is determined by money, media, impact and spheres of influence, according to the publication. “The result is a collection of women who are fighting the status quo,” this year’s list reads.

The publication cited Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s On the Run II stadium tour, which grossed roughly $5 million per night and earned a total of more than $250 million, and her groundbreaking performance at 2018’s Coachella.

Beyoncé also holds down a spot on Forbes’ list of America’s richest self-made women, at No. 61.

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Marjorie Halle

‘abcdefu’

One of Plano’s up-and-coming artists has recently made it big on some of the largest music streaming services. Taylor Gayle Rutherford, better known as GAYLE, was recently featured on Apple Music’s Top Songs of 2022, for example, after her song “abcdefu” blew up across social media and streaming services.

According to KDAF, GAYLE’s song is alongside music from big names like The Weeknd, Lil Baby, Harry Styles, Post Malone and even Elton John. The music video for“abcdefu” currently has over 186 million views, and the artist has almost two million monthly listeners on Spotify.

The artist is no one-hit wonder. GAYLE released the album “the study of the human experience” — volumes one and two — in October 2022, which features the songs “indieedgycool” and  “snow angels.”

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Chris Bishop of Crobot (Courtesy KXAN)

Gear Theft

An Austin band gearing up to hit the road for a show is now searching for its gear.

Crobot guitarist Chris Bishop said he realized the band’s trailer with all their gear inside had been stolen Dec. 2. “They came and cut the lock, attached it to their truck and left,” Bishop says.

Video of the theft shows a red single cab truck pull up to the trailer. The trailer is then attached to the truck, and the suspects drive off. “I was in shock. I was ghost white,” Bishop adds. “My wife thought I was going to throw up. For that to be taken by someone who doesn’t care about it — that’s really frustrating.”

Bishop said he had more than $30,000 worth of instruments, equipment and props in the trailer.

The same night the Crobot trailer was stolen, King’s X, a band who recently played in Austin, had their trailer broken into, and merchandise was stolen.

Crobot has a GoFundMe to help with costs. Bishop said they are uncertain when they will be able to go on tour again.