Washington • Noted Utah pianist Paul Cardall will join 11 other performers at the unveiling Wednesday of the National Christmas Tree near the White House.
Cardall, who has just released his new album “Christmas,” will play a composition of “Silent Night” with the Army Blues, the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Army Band.
“It’s a great tribute to Utah,” Cardall said Tuesday as he prepared for a practice on the Ellipse just south of the White House. “We have so much talent in Utah and so many of us are able to be on a national stage, and it’s really a good representation of all the talent that exists out there.”
Cardall, whose music ranges ranges from religious to New Age to classical, will perform in front of a large audience at the event where President Donald Trump is expected to speak. A recording of the lighting ceremony will air Sunday at 8 p.m. MST on Ovation TV and the Reelz Channel.
The Utah musician will be joined by the band LOCASH, Spensha Baker, Gabby Barrett and Matthew West, among others.
This year’s ceremony is the 96th event where presidents have gathered to throw on the lights to start the Christmas season. The main tree, which is permanently planted just outside the White House gates, is surrounded by 56 other smaller trees representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
Cardall says one the special parts of the event is that it’s sponsored by the National Park Service and is nonprofit, meaning it highlights the nation’s most idyllic vistas.
“I love the outdoors," Cardall said, “so I think this is a huge honor to bring awareness to the beautiful country that we live in.”
Trump’s White House events have largely consisted of fewer A-list celebrities than President Barack Obama hosted during his tenure. At the 2016 tree lighting — Obama’s last — James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Marc Anthony performed, for example.
The show, though, is still shrouded in history and enjoys a big following during the holiday season.
“Next to the Rockefeller Center [in New York], in effect, I think this is the biggest," Cardall said, “and I do think this is America’s night because this is for the national parks.”