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Christmas and Kwanzaa 2021 on WRKF

From Christmas to Kwanzaa to the New Year, WRKF helps make our holiday season complete with a selection of traditional music, storytelling, and theatrical programs.

For information on our Thanksgiving and Hanukkah programming, click here.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Friday, December 24 at 9am and 10pm

Share in a live, world-wide Christmas Eve broadcast of a service of Biblical readings, carols, and related seasonal anthems. Hear the music a cappella and with organ accompaniment, presented by one of the world's foremost choirs of men and boys and performed in an acoustically and architecturally renowned venue.

Selected Shorts: Holiday Hurdles
Friday, December 24 at 11am
Saturday, December 25 at 2pm

Selected Shorts’ late host and founder Isaiah Sheffer is featured as the reader of Tobias Wolff’s “Powder,” in which a pre-Christmas snowstorm provides an adventure for a father and son.

In Allegra Goodman’s gentle borrowing from an O’Henry classic, a long-established couple discover they can surprise one another; Dana Ivey and Michael Cerveris read her “Gifts of the Jewish Magi.”

And David Sedaris says English writer Jeanette Winterson captures the city to a T in “Christmas in New York,” a modern fairy tale with just a hint of magic, performed by Richard Masur.

Playing on Air: The Man in Red
Friday, December 24 at noon
Saturday, December 25 at 3pm

In this musical, holiday dazzler written, directed and produced by Arian Moayed, Santa (Brian Cox) keeps a closer eye on the naughty and nice lists than we think, especially during "unprecedented times." But maybe Mrs. Claus, the hardworking team at the North Pole, and one melancholy little girl might keep the man in the red suit from singing the blues. Music and lyrics by Butch Phelps.

Object of Sound: Christmas At Home w/ Hanif Abdurraqib
Friday, December 24 at 1pm

Hanif Abdurraqib takes a deep dive into the world of Christmas music. Whether you’re flooded with excitement and warm nostalgia at the first beat of "Jingle Bells," or desperately counting down the days until January, Christmas music is everywhere. From the tackiest tracks to the most moving melodies, join us to explore the soundtrack of the season. We’ll hear from special guests: musical duo She & Him, plus Song Exploder’s Hrishikesh Hirway. We'll also hear from listeners across the country who’ve called in to share their non-traditional Christmas traditions.

Living on Earth: Holiday Season Stories of Warmth and Light
Friday, December 24 at 2pm
(also heard Sunday, November 28 at 5pm)

Native American myths and tales help us endure or even enjoy the short days and long nights of winter. This annual celebration of stories helps connect people with the natural world and includes an Iroquois explanation of why the constellation Pleiades twinkles overhead and an Abenaki custom that asks forgiveness for any wrongs of the previous year.

Ford's Theatre Presents: A Christmas Carol
Friday, December 24 at 7pm
Saturday, December 25 at 6am

Ford's Theatre and WAMU in Washington, D.C. present a contemporary radio play of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, featuring acclaimed Washington actor Craig Wallace as Ebenezer Scrooge and public radio broadcaster Murray Horwitz as the narrator.

This adaptation of the popular Ford's Theatre holiday tradition captures the magic of Dickens' Yuletide classic. Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption.

This performance of A Christmas Carol is adapted and directed by Michael Wilson, with sound design, original music and audio production by John Gromada.

Gaudete! Early Music for the Christmas Season
Friday, December 24 at 8pm
Saturday, December 25 at 10am

We'll hear joyful and contemplative sounds of the season, including Byzantine chant by Kassiani, selections from Missa Puer natus est nobis by Thomas Tallis, plus hymns and motets from Spain, Germany, and France. Our performers include The Cardinall’s Musick, Theatre of Voices, Cappella Romana, and Oltremontano.

Christmastime in New York: The Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine
Friday, December 24 at 9pm

The Choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine performs at the Medieval Sculpture Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a program that spans hundreds of years and describes the story of the nativity.

The program includes settings of the "O Magnum Mysterium" text by T. L. da Victoria, Morton Lauridsen, and Francis Poulenc; works by Byrd, Biebl, and Hassler; as well as music by Eric Whitacre, Francis Poulenc, William Byrd and Morten Lauridsen.

All is Bright
Saturday, December 25 at 9am

An hour of gorgeous, contemplative music related to the Christmas season and its symbolism. This program uses sacred choral music grouped in a way to tell the traditional Christmas story by way of songs about angels, the star, and the manger scene. Featured artists include Cambridge Singers, Cantus, and Chanticleer.

Christmas Revels
Saturday, December 25 at 11am

A musical celebration of the Winter holidays... Christmas, the Solstice, Chanukah, New Year’s, Jonkonnu, Twelfth Night/Epiphany ...featuring traditional carols, chants, wassails, hymns, children’s game-songs, and folk dance-tunes excerpted from live Christmas Revels stage productions presented around the country.

Tapestry: The Importance of Ritual
Saturday, December 25 at 1pm
(also Sunday, December 5 at 6pm)

A one hour special about the meaning of rituals and the power they hold.

Sasha Sagan, whose mother is writer Ann Druyan and father is the late astronomer Carl Sagan, grew up in a secular household. But that didn't mean rituals weren't important. She explores the idea in her book “For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World.”

All Songs Considered: Holiday Extravaganza
Saturday, December 25 at 5pm

Bob Boilen is like a child this time of year, his eyes and ears full of wonder, as he traipses through the NPR Music offices, vigorously jingling his collection of sleigh bells. He believes, in his heart, that he's truly getting everyone in the spirit of the holiday season. But it's always a steady source of irritation for Robin so he tries to escape but ends up on a steam engine headed to the North Pole.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings perform a holiday Tiny Desk Concert in 2015.
Jun Tsuboike
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings perform a holiday Tiny Desk Concert in 2015.

The Big Tiny Desk Holiday Special
Saturday, December 25 at 6pm

Celebrate the season as Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson bring us amazing holiday performances from The Tiny Desk Concert series including Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Steve Martin, Hanson, The Polyphonic Spree and more.

Thistle & Shamrock: A Child's Christmas In Wales
Saturday, December 25 at 9pm

Cerys Matthews is Welsh musician and patron of the Dylan Thomas Society. In this program, she narrates excerpts from the Dylan Thomas holiday classic, set to music that she created and recorded with her collaborator Mason Neely.

An Afro Blue Christmas
Saturday, December 25 at 10pm

Join us for a very special holiday concert with Howard University's premiere vocal ensemble, Afro Blue, and special guest pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Hear the a-cappela group perform a variety of holiday songs including African-American spirituals, jazz and pop tunes, and classical repertoire. The joyous celebration includes one of a kind arrangements on traditional holiday songs plus new compositions.

A Soulful Christmas
Saturday, December 25 at 11pm

An uplifting, relevant display of Black music in the classical, gospel, spiritual, and jazz-inspired style. This special celebrates the non-idiomatic Black classical music, while exploring non-idiomatic choral traditions.

Guests will include:

  • D’Walla Simmons-Burke, director of Choral Activities at Winston-Salem State University
  • Jason Max Ferdinand, conductor, ‘The Aeolians’
  • Dr. David Morrow, director of Choral Activities at Morehouse College
  • Dr. Tony McNeil, director of Choral Activities at Clinton College
  • Dr. Brittany Boykin, assistant professor of music at Georgia Tech

A Season's Griot
Sunday, December 26 at 5pm

Celebrating Kwanzaa, join Madafo Lloyd Wilson as we capture the tales and traditions of African American and African peoples.

The show’s poet laureate, Beverly Fields Burnette, and other members of the Season’s Griot family return with familiar and favorite elements of Griot.

The Time Team: The Three Wisemans
Sunday, December 26 at 8pm

WRKF's Radio Drama Club presents a holiday special.

Adam is responsible for coordinating WRKF's programming and making sure everything you hear on the radio runs smoothly. He is Newscast Editor for the WRKF/WWNO Newsroom. Adam is also the Baton Rouge-based host for Louisiana Considered, our daily regional news program, and is frequently the local voice afternoons on All Things Considered.