NBC lights up the night on Wednesday, Nov. 29 (8-9 p.m. ET/PT) with an incredible array of musical performances and the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree during the 9th annual "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" telecast. Hosted by Al Roker and Ann Curry ("Today"), the star-studded 74th annual tree lighting extravaganza will feature Christina Aguilera, Sting, Bette Midler, Lionel Richie, Sarah McLachlan, Enya, John Legend, Martina McBride, and Taylor Hicks performing current hits and holiday favorites from Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Broadcast again in high definition, the special will include the artists' powerful performances from beautifully decorated stages located on either side of the majestic tree.
As previously announced, NBC Universal and Target stores are partnering for the fourth consecutive year to bring fans the "Sounds of the Season" CD collection, featuring superstar artists singing classic, holiday-themed tracks. Hitmakers John Legend, Lionel Richie, Enya and Martina McBride, among others, contributed to the CD collection. The collection is made up of five CD's including "The John Legend Collection," "The Lionel Richie Collection," "The Enya Collection" and "Classic Holiday Songbook," which features remixed instrumentals on timeless classics, as well as new performances by contemporary artists like Martina McBride. In addition, "Navidad Con Telemundo" showcases the vocals of some of the network's beloved actors like Itat?? Cantoral and Miguel Varoni singing such holiday favorites as "Feliz Navidad."
The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to the Great Depression era. First erected in 1933, the tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month-old RCA Building, now the GE Building. The Christmas tree gathering was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice-skating pond. NBC-TV televised the first tree lighting in 1951 on "The Kate Smith Show" and as part of the nationwide "Howdy Doody" television show from 1953-55.
Prior to the network special, WNBC NBC's New York flagship station, affiliates WVIT, WCMH, KNBC will broadcast an additional live hour of the special (7-8 p.m. ET). "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" is produced by NBC Universal Television Studio Bob Holmes is the executive producer.
Aguilera, one of the most accomplished performers of the last decade, has sold over 25 million albums worldwide and cultivated a fan base that crosses generational, racial and gender lines. She most recently released her latest Album "Back To Basics" (RCA Records). Earning her first of three Grammy Awards in 2000 for Best New Artist, her subsequent trophies came in 2001 for "Lady Marmalade" (Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals) and in 2003 for "Beautiful" (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance). Among countless other honors, she is also the recipient of a 2001 Latin Grammy Award for "Mi Reflejo" (Best Female Pop Vocal Album), a 2000 Billboard Music Award for Female Vocalist.
Sting has evolved into one of the world's most distinctive and highly respected performers, collecting as a solo artist, 11 Grammy's, 2 Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, three Oscar nominations, Billboard Magazine's Century Award, and MusiCares 2004 Person of the Year. In 2003, he published his memoirs, Broken Music, which went on to spend several months on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Sting's latest CD, "Songs From the Labyrinth" - a personal tribute to Elizabethan composer John Dowland - lands at the top of the classical charts both domestically and overseas. Called "vivid" and "romantic" by The Wall Street Journal, the disc was released by Deutsche Grammophon and debuted at No.1 on Billboard's Traditional Classical Chart and Classical Overall Chart, while also cracking the Top 200 Album Chart at No.37. Resonating with audiences and critics as an inspired and exceptional effort, the record also debuted at No.1 on the classical charts in England, France, Canada and Germany and boasts the masterful playing of renowned lutenist Edin Karamazov.
Midler one of the world's best-loved and most versatile entertainers has garnered accolades in all quarters of show business. She's earned four Grammy Awards including Song of the Year (1989: "Wind Beneath My Wings"; 1990: "From A Distance") and Record of the Year (1989: "Wind Beneath My Wings"); two Academy Award nominations, three Emmy Awards, one Tony Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and nine American Comedy Awards. Columbia Records released "Cool Yule" Bette Midler's first-ever collection of seasonal songs, Midler's first new album since 2005's Top 10-charting "Bette Midler Sings The Peggy Lee Songbook," draws its name and upbeat spirit from the 1950s hipster holiday song, penned by Steve Allen, revamped by Midler for her holiday collection.
Artist of the Year, Richie's latest release "Coming Home" yielded the No.1 hit "I Call It Love" and is the ultimate statement from a pop icon who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide in his career, and has the honor of owning an Oscar, Golden Globe Award (both for "Say You, Say Me," from "White Knights") and a total of five Grammy's (collectively for "Truly," "Can't Slow Down," and "We Are The World").
Richie had a string of 15 consecutive top 10 R&B hits between 1981 and 1992 (five of which hit No.1) - 13 of which were consecutive top 10 pop hits (also including five No. 1's) - stands as one of the most enviable achievements in chart history. His countless awards, also including American Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, People's Choice Awards, ASCAP Awards, the World Music Lifetime Achievement Award, and more, were capped when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2003. Lionel Richie is an artist for the ages.
McLachlan, an eight-time Juno Award winner (Canada) and a three-time Grammy Award winner; with over 26 million records worldwide since her recording career began in 1988 with her debut album "Touch." Has created a true holiday classic with "Wintersong," the first ever holiday album of her multi-platinum career on sale now.
Enya, with more than 70 million album sale to date, is one of the top-selling female vocalists of all time. Enya is set to release a holiday special edition of her best-selling album, Amarantine mid November. She is an Oscar and Golden Globe nominee, as well as a three-time Grammy award winner.
Legend is a premier singer-songwriter-pianist-performer whose 2004 debut album, "Get Lifted," earned an astounding eight Grammy nominations. He won Best New Artist, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance ("Ordinary People") and Best R&B album. The album sold more than three million copies worldwide. His follow-up album, "Once Again," was released this fall.
McBride, the multi-Platinum country star has solo produced an album dedicated to some of the most prolific country classics tune's of our time. She has won the CMA's Female Vocalist of the Year award four times.
Hicks, the 30-year-old Birmingham, Ala. native captured the hearts and minds of more than 63.4 million people who voted him this year's American Idol, is recording his debut album for Arista Records. His first single, "Do I Make You Proud" debuted at No.1 on Billboard's Hot 100, the Single Sales chart and the Pop 100, with more than 0,000 sold its first week of release. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of every CD, digital download, ringtone and ringback benefits the American Red Cross.