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The Perfect Jazz Soundtrack for Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Is On WRTI 90.1

Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa!

WRTI jazz has all of the seasonal classics on hand, and plenty of new holiday tunes to bring you cheer when you deck the halls and welcome the new year.

Check out our "Jingle All The Way" Spotify Playlist here!

On Christmas Eve, Ms. Blue will bring you some wonderful, festive music starting at 6 PM. Heartwarming favorites like Nat “King” Cole’s “The Christmas Song” and Ella’s “Good Morning Blues” will accompany your holiday feast, as well as new holiday music from Warren Wolf’s release, Holiday Vibes, and Lauren Henderson’s fresh interpretation of yuletide staples.

Ms. Blue is at it again on Christmas Day starting at 6 PM, featuring music from our recent Jazz Albums of the Week, Adrian Cunningham with LaLucha’s New Holiday Classics, and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s (JALCO) Big Band Holidays II. She will also bring the nostalgia with Christmas songs from Tony Bennett and the Stan Kenton Orchestra.

Starting on December 26th, join WRTI Jazz as, each evening, we recognize one of the principles of Kwanzaa. African in origin, Kwanzaa is an annual seven-day celebration practiced by many Black Americans to reaffirm their African heritage. It takes place from December 26th through January 1st.

Kwanzaa was conceived in 1966 by Pan African scholar Dr. Mulana Kurenga during the Black freedom movement's height. With origins in ancient and modern first-harvest festivals occurring across the African continent, the celebration's name derives from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," meaning first fruits. Kwanzaa incorporates and reimagines many of these communal traditions as a contemporary celebration and reaffirmation of African American culture.

Today, millions of African Americans and descendants of the African Diaspora around the globe gather with friends and family, lighting the traditional red, green, and black candles each evening to focus on the seven principles of Nguzo Saba: Unity (Umoja), Self-determination (Kujichagulia), Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima), Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa), Purpose (Nia), Creativity (Kuumba), Faith (Imani).

Kwanzaa serves as a unifying holiday that shines festive highlights on Black culture's diverse and rich heritage while honoring the past, rejoicing in the present, and embracing the future.

On the first night of Kwanzaa, Bobbi Booker will bring you Will Calhoun’s version of “Umoja” at 7:15 PM. Throughout the rest of the week, our hosts will announce the day’s principle  at 7:15 PM and 9:15 PM, and play a piece of music that reflects the values of the observance.

Bobbi Booker will kick off New Year’s Eve at 6 PM with some champagne on ice. Join her to help begin to usher out the infamous year 2020 and with plenty of songs about bubbly and cocktails. Bobbi will be spinning tunes  like The Hot Sardine’s “French Fries and Champagne” and Gene Harris’ “Scotch and Soda” up until 8 PM. Consider her your own private party DJ as you pregame for the big Toast. However you decide to celebrate, be sure to crack open something cold and spend the evening with WRTI.

From 8 PM to midnight, we'll join this year’s unique presentation ofToast of the Nation. Usually live sets from jazz clubs are featured in this NPR Music special so obviously this year’s program will sound a bit different...but, fear not, this is going to be an amazing show!

The featured groups are the Afrobeat group KOKOROKO, The Catherine Russell Trio, The Jazz All-Stars at the Kennedy Center, and the genre-blending group Pink Martini. Just because we can’t go out doesn’t mean we can’t jam out, right into 2021! Check out the complete lineup here and listen!