TV News

JoJo, Alessia Cara, Kelly Clarkson Comment On Disney Parks Thanksgiving Special

ABC will air the first of three annual Disney Parks holiday specials on Thanksgiving Night.

Filmed across the popular Disney resorts, the special will feature performances by celebrities like Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men & JoJo, Alessia Cara, Kelly Clarkson, Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, Flo Rida, and OneRepublic. The full setlist is as follows:

— Boyz II Men, joined by JoJo, will sing a holiday favorite from the steps of Cinderella Castle
— Alessia Cara will sing “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s animated feature film, “Moana” for the very first time on broadcast television.
— Kelly Clarkson will perform “Underneath the Tree” and “Stronger.”
— Flo Rida performs two of his smash hits.
— Zara Larsson sings a holiday classic from a stunning location at Walt Disney World.
— From Disney’s Hollywood Studios, OneRepublic performs one of their hit songs.
— Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks will perform “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Ugly Christmas Sweater” and “Marshmallow World,” all from their new album, “Christmas Together.”

Julianne and Derek Hough host the Thanksgiving special, which airs from 8-10PM ET and is entitled “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration.”

In advance of the broadcast, the Disney-ABC media team shared some interview clips with the night’s performers. Soundbites from the JoJo, Alessia Cara, and Kelly Clarkson interviews follow:

JoJo on singing with Boyz II Men
All of them have such incredible voices, and I’ve actually known them since I was a little girl – since I recorded my first album, Shawn and Wanya in particular. So to be collaborating with them, singing with them for the first time, is just a dream come true. I got to see them perform last night here at Disney, and I’m fangirling a bit.

[We’re performing] their version of “Let It Snow,” and it’s an instant classic. It’s a soulful take on Christmas songs, which is completely up my alley. I grew up listening and being so inspired by R&B and soul and hip-hop, and Boyz II Men is absolutely iconic. It couldn’t be more of a perfect fit, honestly, for me to be singing this song with them.

JoJo on performing during the holiday season
My mom actually was a professional singer, and she used to be part of a Christmas troupe, and I grew up seeing her in her Christmas gear and going house-to-house or performing in Boston Common or wherever she was performing. So this is going to be feeling like that. It is about family, it’s about coming together. It’s about love, that’s what the holidays are about. It’s different, it allows me to step outside of myself and my own music and self-promotion and do something much bigger.

JoJo on singing at Disney
I imagine it’s going to be very emotional, it’s going to feel magical. Whenever you’re in front of people, and you’re connecting – you can find that magic. But there’s just something about the spirit of Disney that is going to take it to a whole other level, I’m sure.

There’s no more magical place than being here at Disney and what it means for the holidays and bringing people together. I feel like a little girl, so I’m excited to be part of this and see what the whole production is. We’re singing at a castle – I feel like a princess, it’s crazy.

Alessia Cara on being part of the Disney Parks special
It’s awesome. I love the holidays and I love Disney, honestly, so it’s a perfect hybrid of both. I just love getting in the spirit of everything – Disney does that so well. I’m just really happy to be part of something that I actually watch every year.

I’ve watched them since forever. What’s awesome about them is that it’s just something that you can look forward to every year and sit around the TV with your family and watch it – it brings everyone together. It’s something fun to do over the holidays…at least for my family.

Kelly Clarkson on being part of the Disney Parks special
I think it’s really important to be part of the special for Thanksgiving because I, one, love performing, but I also love a great atmosphere for our kids. We have four kids that get to travel with us and get to do some cool things, so it’s always nice when it’s a family event. It’s something I feel cool bringing my kids to – not like, wait, something weird might happen. This is a really safe thing to bring your kids to. And I get to perform, so it’s kind of a double whammy.

I won’t lie – I’m 34 years old, and I still love coming to Disney World. I love rides, and I love all the fun stuff. It’s cool, we have kids of all ages, ranging from six months to 15 – it’s awesome when you can go on a vacation and everyone has a good time. That’s rare when you have that wide of a range of kids. It’s awesome for us all to come here and be able to enjoy everything.

Kelly Clarkson on her song selections
We picked “Underneath The Tree” and “Stronger” to perform for this Thanksgiving special. One, because everybody loves when I sing “Stronger” – that’s always the one that everybody asks for, and we thought we’d do something fun from my catalogue. And then “Underneath The Tree” we thought would be a fun, uplifting one for the crowd, just because we’re gearing up for Christmas. It’s my single from my Christmas record, and it’s fun. I like singing the fun one!

Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002. Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj. Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]

Published by
Brian Cantor