After taking off most of the year, the celebrated crooner is now out making magic on his Glow Live Tour: 'That gives me purpose'
There’s nothing better than Brett Eldredge's holiday music to put you in the spirit of the season — but how does the man himself turn into Mr. Christmas before hitting the stage for his annual Glow Live shows?
Eldredge reveals he has his tricks. Such as putting on one of his swanky (and sexy) velvet tuxedos. “It feels like a superhero cape sometimes,” says the 37-year-old crooner.
And he makes sure his backstage quarters are fully decorated for the holidays. “I’ve got Christmas trees in the dressing room,” he exults. (Note the plural.)
And in that dressing room, he keeps his favorite holiday movie, White Christmas, always running on repeat. (Though forgive him if he fast-forwards through “Choreography.” “I’ve never really understood that part,” he allows. “I’m like, this is not Christmas!” He’s right. IYKYK.)
He also takes the time to meditate on his own favorite Christmas crooners and what made them legends — the charm of Bing Crosby, the Dean Martin swagger, Frank Sinatra's classiness and Nat King Cole's warmth.
“I just feel so lucky, in this world today, to keep that tradition going and make it my own,” says Eldredge, who launched this year’s edition of the Glow Live Tour last weekend in Nashville.
But, of course, what puts him in the mood the most is the big, delicious sound of the songs themselves, culled from his two best-selling holiday albums, 2016’s Glow and 2021’s Mr. Christmas — music, he says, that he first dreamed of performing when he was a kid growing up in tiny Paris, Illinois.
A country artist 11 months out of the year, Eldredge says his Mr. Christmas alter-ego is “a huge part of who I am. This is who I am, too.”
That part first peeked out in public about a decade ago when he invited about a hundred friends to a Christmas show in a basement club in Nashville. The release of Glow a couple of years later quickly inspired the live show, complete with a Big Band orchestra to copy the album’s sound. One show expanded to a tour, which has now grown to 14 dates in nine cities over a whirlwind 28 days.
Eldredge has his eye on even more expansion. “I always want a lot of my fans to see it,” he says, “and there are only so many nights you can do, so we probably will try some arenas at some point.”
At the same time, he adds, he’s keen on protecting the show’s intimacy: “There’s a certain magic to these shows that I want to keep in there. A Glow show just makes you feel so connected. It feels like everybody’s on the same page in a world that sometimes feels not on the same page at all. When you get everybody together, and you have this music and this spirit in the room, it’s just so powerful. And that gives me purpose. I need this. The memories we’re creating are yours and mine and all of ours together.”
By now, his holiday fans have come to expect him to sing certain songs, which makes devising a set list a particular challenge. “I love every Christmas song I’ve ever recorded,” says Eldredge, who has a combined 28 tracks on his two holiday albums. “You can’t play every single one, but I’ve tried to get about as many in as I can.”
His staples include three originals he’s co-written: “Glow,” “Feels Like Christmas” and “Mr. Christmas.” Other must-sings, he says, include “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Christmas Time Is Here,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
“And ‘O Holy Night’ — I gotta do that,” he says. “That was my childhood. That’s the song that helped me find my voice.”
This year’s audiences might notice something new in the show: an extra spring in Eldredge’s step. If so, there’s a reason. He took off most of 2023 to refresh, recharge, and work on personal growth.
“I’ve been on the road for 11, 12 years, and I started feeling like there’s so much more that’s important to me, as well as my music,” he explains about what he calls his “sabbatical” year. “I’ve really wanted to grow a lot of aspects of my life, and I think it’s important to take the time.”
With the luxury of months to fill, Eldredge says he was able to enjoy personal travel (notably to Italy and Portugal), work on his fitness (notching a half-marathon), and do volunteer work at Nashville's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. Most of all, he says, he got “to feel rooted in being home and in a regular routine. It’s been really beautiful. I feel like I’m starting parts of my life in some ways.”
Long open about his struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, Eldredge says he’s also been deepening his practice of meditation, including his recent participation in a mindfulness retreat that required three days of total silence.
“The hardest part wasn’t the silence,” he says. “The hardest part was sitting with your baggage — you know, the things that also make you who you are.”
Slowly, Eldredge says, he’s been learning to embrace it all. “I’m kind of a shy kid at heart,” he says. “I’m a creative spirit, and I’m very sensitive, and I’m starting to love that part of myself. I’m starting to learn that what makes me thrive is getting out in front of people, but it also makes me scared as hell. But that’s what I love to do, and I’m just learning that dance, and I feel good about that.”
Eldredge offers assurances that he’s been pouring his new energy and insights into upcoming (non-holiday) music, though he’s not ready to talk specifics. An important part of his sabbatical, he says, was songwriting, including trips to New York City to collaborate with songwriters there.
“I’ve been exploring some really cool stuff that I haven’t shared with the world yet, but it will be here before too long,” he vows. “It’s going to be a whole new experience for a lot of people. If you liked my music before, it’s gonna have parts that you love, but I try to push as much as I can to explore different ways and give you something different and new, so I’m excited.”
Eldredge wraps his Glow Live Tour on Dec. 21 in St. Louis. But don’t even try to rock Mr. Christmas off his focus now and ask about his own holiday plans.
“To be honest,” he says with a laugh, “I haven’t even gotten to that yet.”
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