The members of Boyz II Men are all grown up now, but still singing their R&B harmonies. They’re the latest addition to NBC’s live broadcast from Rockefeller Center in New York City for the lighting of the giant Christmas tree.
The star-studded holiday special on Tuesday, November 30 (8-9 pm ET/PT) will also feature performances by Susan Boyle, Mariah Carey, Charice, Sheryl Crow, Jackie Evancho, Josh Groban, Katherine Jenkins, Annie Lennox, Kylie Minogue, Jessica Simpson and The Radio City Rockettes with a mix of current hits and holiday classics. The 78th annual holiday extravaganza will feature a tree that is 74 feet high, 40 feet in diameter and weighs a whopping 12 tons.
The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to the Great Depression. First erected in 1933, the inaugural 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 tree lighting for the first time in 1951 on “The Kate Smith Show” and as part of the nationwide “Howdy Doody” television show from 1953-55.
Prior to this year’s primetime telecast, WNBC, the network’s New York flagship station, and other nationwide affiliates will broadcast an additional live hour of the special (7-8 pm ET). “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” is produced by Brad Lachman Productions with Lachman serving as executive producer. Bill Bracken is producer.
Here’s a rundown of the performers:
Boyz II Men, the best-selling R&B group of all time and four-time Grammy winners followed up the worldwide success of their 2009 Grammy-nominated R&B Album of the Year “Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA,” the group has no plans of stopping as they approach their 20th anniversary in entertainment. The trio will also be hitting the road in early 2011 to play shows throughout the US and Canada. On February 11, 2011 they will also set sail on “The Love Cruise,” a four-day fan cruise to the Bahamas that will include meet-and-greets, a poker tournament, a welcome party, and the chance to have their wedding vows renewed while being serenaded by the Boyz themselves.
First discovered on “Britain’s Got Talent,” Susan Boyle became an instant internet sensation with over 500 million views on YouTube. Her debut album, “I Dreamed A Dream,” went from the most pre-ordered album in Amazon’s global history to the fastest selling female debut album of all time in a matter of weeks. Boyle released her second album, “The Gift,” on November 9th, with highlights including delightful renditions of the traditional hymn “Away In A Manger” and a cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” It is currently #1 on the Billboard 200.
“Merry Christmas II You” is Mariah Carey’s 13th studio album, and follows up her worldwide multi-million-selling “Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel” (released September 2009), her multi-platinum “E=MC²” (2008), and worldwide 10 million selling “The Emancipation Of Mimi” (2005). “The Emancipation Of Mimi” generated three Grammy awards (including Best Contemporary R&B Album), two #1 singles, and countless more honors during its 18-month chart stay. Soundscan’s biggest-selling album of 2005, Mimi featured “We Belong Together” (Grammy winner for Best Female R&B Vocal and Best R&B Song) and “Don’t Forget About Us,” Mariah’s 16th and 17th #1 career singles respectively. They tied one of the most enduring chart records in Billboard Hot 100 history, Elvis Presley’s 17 #1’s. Three years later, Mariah surpassed Elvis when “Touch My Body” (from “E=MC²”) became her 18th #1 Hot 100 hit. Mariah is now positioned as the only active recording artist with the potential to surpass the Beatles’ all-time high of 20 #1 hits. The success of “E=MC²” brought total sales of Mariah’s albums, singles and videos to more than 200 million worldwide, distancing her even further from the pack as the most successful female recording artist in history.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Charice found her singing voice at a young age. By age 7, she was supporting her family through her earnings from singing competitions. In 2007, a web-savvy fan began posting a series of Charice’s performances on YouTube, including appearances on the Filipino talent show “Little Big Star” and the popular South Korean talent show “Star King.” She instantly became an internet sensation, earning herself appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Oprah.” She has since released her self-titled debut album, which recently reached #1 in Japan.
Nine-time Grammy Award-winning musician Sheryl Crow recently released her seventh album, “100 Miles From Memphis.” For the Missouri native, the album is a statement of purpose, featuring eleven songs that are characterized more by capturing a classic spirit than by imitating any specific style. Crow has sold 16 million albums in the United States and 35 million albums worldwide. She currently resides on a farm outside Nashville, Tennessee with her two sons.
Jackie Evancho, the 10-year old soprano prodigy whose performance on “America’s Got Talent” won the hearts of millions and brought her into the national spotlight, released her debut professional recording, “O Holy Night,” on November 16 and it skyrocketed to #2 on the Billboard 200 in its first week. Since appearing on “America’s Got Talent” Jackie’s accumulated more than 30 million combined YouTube views and was the #1 Hot Google Search this past summer. Jackie first began singing at the age of 7 after watching “The Phantom of the Opera” on DVD. She launched her own YouTube channel and started serious vocal lessons when she was 8 years old. A Pittsburgh native, Jackie performed at local talent shows, going on to perform at high profile events including singing the National Anthem at Pittsburgh Pirates games.
Josh Groban returns to the “Christmas in Rockefeller” stage for the second time in his extensive career. An international superstar, the Los Angeles native has sold more than 25 million albums and DVDs worldwide, and filled arenas from North America and Europe to Australia and the Philippines. He was the best-selling recording artist of 2007 thanks to sales of his double-platinum 2006 album “Awake” and his blockbuster 5-time platinum Christmas album, “Noel.” After teaming with super-producer Rick Rubin, Groban released his fifth studio album, “Illuminations” on November 15. This is a very personal album for Groban, who co-wrote 11 of the 13 songs on the collection including “Hidden Away,” which Groban co-wrote with Dan Wilson.
Katherine Jenkins, known as “the young woman from the little place with the huge voice,” hails from the tiny village of Neath in the Welsh Valley. With multi-platinum recordings along with critical acclaim and awards that span decades, Jenkins has become more than a household name in the United Kingdom. Not one to limit herself to opera or her classical/crossover, she loves to perform all types of music. Katherine’s US debut album “Believe” was produced by 15-time Grammy-winning star-maker and hit man David Foster for 143/Warner Bros. Records.
Annie Lennox is the most successful female British artist in pop music history. She has amassed sales of more than 78 million albums worldwide in her 26-year career, both as a member of the groundbreaking Eurythmics and as a solo artist. Her towering achievements also include 34 hit singles, four Grammy Awards, 11 Brit Awards and five Ivor Novello Awards. The superstar has also won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. In addition to her music, Lennox devotes her energy to The SING Campaign, a humanitarian organization Lennox founded to raise awareness and support for the AIDS/HIV pandemic in Africa.
Born in Australia, Kylie Minogue released her first single, a remake of the 1962 Little Eva hit “Locomotion,” in 1987. The song hit #1 in Australia and remained in the top spot for seven weeks, becoming the biggest Australian single of the 80’s. Two decades later, Kylie achieved the record for the most played female artist on UK radio over the last 20 years. Since then she has released eleven studio albums, two live CDs, eight live concert DVD’s, plus her “Greatest Hits” and the “Ultimate Kylie” double album and multiple video packages. Minogue’s latest album “Aphrodite” became Kylie’s fifth #1 album in the UK which made Kylie the first solo artist in the history of the UK charts to have a #1 album in four different decades. Around the globe “Aphrodite” debuted in the top 10 in thirteen different countries. The album has produced two consecutive U.S. Billboard Club hits with “All The Lovers” and “Get Outta My Way.” Kylie’s “Aphrodite – Les Folies 2011” world tour begins in Denmark on February 19th and is expected to hit the U.S. this spring.
Born and raised outside of Dallas, Texas, Jessica Simpson has taken the music, fashion and entertainment industries by storm and become an international media darling. She made her mark in the music industry with her RIAA-certified double platinum 1999 debut, “Sweet Kisses,” and has since released five additional full-length solo albums including the quadruple platinum “In This Skin” and her latest effort, “Do You Know.” She soon began appearing on television in “That 70’s Show,” her MTV reality show “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica,” and her recent VH1 docu-series, “Jessica Simpson’s: The Price of Beauty.” Simpson has found additional success as a designer with her Jessica Simpson Collection and her fragrance “Fancy.” An enthusiastic philanthropist, she also serves as the International Youth Ambassador for Operation Smile.