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Christmas In Kansas City CD

Christmas In Kansas City:
Music From The Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Kerry Strayer Orchestra
w/special guests Ron Gutierrez, Lisa Henry, Kelly Hunt and Kevin Mahogany


Kerry Strayer director
Woodwind Section
Trumpet Section
Trombone Section
Rhythm Section
John Knox Presbyterian Kirk Choir
directed by Marcia Herpich


  1. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Eddie Pola and George Wyle)
  2. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (J. Fred Coots/Haven Gillespie)
  3. Christmas Time Is Here (Vince Guaraldi/Lee Mendelson)
  4. Merry Christmas Baby (Margo Sylvia and Gil Lopez)
  5. The Christmas Song (Mel Torme and Robert Wells)
  6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let it Snow! (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn)
  7. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Kim Gannon and Walter Kent)
  8. Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson/Mitchell Parish)
  9. Jingle-Bell Rock (Joe Beal and Jim Boothe)
  10. Christmas Comes But Once A Year (Charles Brown and Gene Redd)
  11. White Christmas (Irving Berlin)
  12. This Christmas (Donny Hathaway and Nadine McKinnon)
  13. Go Tell It On The Mountain (Spiritual/verses by John W. Work Jr.)
  14. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Traditional English Folksong)
  15. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine)

All arrangements by Kerry Strayer

From the liner notes:

In 1926 innovative real estate developer J. C. Nichols turned a swampy south Kansas City area into the first retail shopping and office development designed for automobile traffic, thereby giving birth to the Country Club Plaza and the world’s first “shopping center.” That same year a business strung a single strand of lights over its doorway for the holiday season. More businesses soon followed, and in 1929 the first Plaza Lighting Ceremony was held. More than 75 years later the tradition continues, now with more than 80 miles of lights illuminating one of the country’s premier shopping districts. As the Plaza and Kansas City have grown, so has the annual Thanksgiving Plaza Lighting Ceremony. What once started as an attraction to draw customers to a new shopping district, the Plaza Lighting Ceremony has grown to an internationally-acclaimed family entertainment program that signals the start of the Holiday Season throughout the Midwest.

A key element in the growth of the Plaza Lighting Ceremony was the addition of a large-scale holiday musical program in 1990 designed to reflect the magnitude of this annual Midwest tradition. Since 1996 Kerry Strayer, a well known and accomplished musician and band leader, has worked with the Plaza Staff and Pat Riha Productions, the producers of the Lighting Ceremony, to put together a music and entertainment program that reflects the diversity of Kansas City culture, its people and musical tastes. Over the years the program has included holiday and inspirational songs in styles ranging from jazz and big band to reggae and rock. Performances have included gospel choirs, national recording artists, pop singers and even ballet artists.

In “Christmas in Kansas City: Music from the Plaza Lighting Ceremony”, Kerry Strayer captures the music and essence of the Plaza Lighting Ceremony that has been enjoyed by millions of people in person or on television. The selection of music reflects the variety of programs Kerry has directed over the years. It is a collection that you and your family will enjoy for many years to come.

Patrick and Kate Riha
Producers Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Ten years ago Pat Riha asked me if I had interest in becoming Music Director for The Plaza Lighting Ceremony. This recording celebrates my tenth anniversary of serving in that capacity and documents a portion of that work. It has been an honor and a pleasure to be part of such a wonderful Holiday tradition. It has afforded me the opportunity to work with many wonderful musicians, many of whom I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to work with, and to rekindle the Christmas spirit within my own heart. Each year working on the show brings back fond memories of the Christmases of my youth and creates new Christmas memories for the future. I hope listening to this music does the same for you.

God Bless,

– Kerry

A special thanks to Pat and Kate Riha for the opportunity to be a part of the Plaza Lighting Ceremony and to their wonderful staff for their hard work and dedication.

Thanks to all of the musicians I have had the pleasure to work with on the show. It has been a joy to make music with each and every one of you.

Thanks as well to the two gentleman who have served as MCs for the show over the past ten years, Dick Wilson (1996-2001) and Larry Moore (2002-2005).

A heartfelt thanks to Ron Ubel, Grant Schainost and Jeff Schiller at Soundtrek Studios and to Kim Park. This the fifth CD I've recorded at Sountrek and the fourth that Kim has produced for me. They make a wonderful team. It's always nice to work among friends.

A special thanks to Keith Cox for being so supportive of jazz musicians in Kansas City.

And finally, a huge thank you to my wife Gailyn for her support. She has always been a big help to me while preparing these shows. I'm sure she's one of only a few women in America who, for ten years, has had to endure hearing Christmas music around the house starting in October. Merry Christmas, Baby.

– Kerry Strayer