A quarter-century after he wrote a song about Christmas in Maine, songwriter Con Fullam is hosting a TV special that celebrates the legacy of the “Maine Christmas Song.”
The show, which airs at 8 p.m. Saturday on WCSH-TV and repeats throughout the month on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, features a cast of who’s-who musical personalities from Maine, including Grammy Award-winner Paul Sullivan, Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary, songwriter Jonathan Edwards, opera singer John McVeigh and the DaPonte String Quartet, among many others. MPBN classical music host Suzanne Nance hosts the special along with humorist Tim Sample.
They filmed the musical variety show in November at Gracie Theatre at Husson University in Bangor. Proceeds from sales of DVDs and CDs from the show will benefit hunger relief, a cause that Fullam has championed for many years.
“In a society as rich as ours, that any child goes to bed without enough food is abhorrent,” said Fullam. “Children, as we all know, are our future. You can’t let kids not have enough food. It just doesn’t work. It’s the foundation of life, and I think it’s reprehensible that anybody goes hungry in our country.”
Fullam wrote the “Maine Christmas Song” at the request of WCSH 25 years ago. The station was looking for a song on short notice that was simple and poignant. Fullam, who has made a living as a songwriter, produced the song in a matter of hours. It celebrates the simplicity of Christmas in Maine, and speaks to community values.
“It’s the spirit of sharing, giving and caring, hanging wreaths upon the neighbor’s door,” he wrote. “That’s the spirit of Maine at Christmastime, from her mountains to her great Atlantic shore.”
In the 25 years since, the song has sold more than 100,000 copies and raised enough money for the Maine Credit Union League’s End Maine Hunger campaign to serve 200,000 meals, Fullam said.
The TV special celebrates the legacy of the song and highlights Maine’s abundant musical talent, while raising money for hunger relief.
“There is an immense array of talent in Maine, from classical to country to pop to classics,” said Fullam. “People who watch the show will hear singers that will astound them and hear and see players who are at the top of their game.”
Sullivan, a pianist, said he had a blast during the filming.
“There’s a real sense of community among Maine musicians. That is not always so in, say, New York City,” he said. “There is this family of Maine musicians. There is competition among us, but no negativity. We all want to see each other succeed, and we all support each other. It was great to celebrate Christmas with them. Old friends and new friends, there is this sense of respect and appreciation for each other.”
That same sense of support and respect is what led Fullam to write “Maine Christmas Song” in the first place.
He grew up in the central Maine town of Sidney “where people really do care about each other. My father died at age 45. My mom was left with three kids with nothing. Within a week of his departure, the bank had forgiven his mortgage and all the stores forgave the charge accounts,” he said.
“That was the sense of community I was striving for when I wrote the song, and I think maybe that’s why it has stuck around and been passed on from generation to generation. It states a lot about who we are as Mainers.”
After Saturday’s debut on WCSH, MPBN will air the special at 7 and 11 p.m. Sunday, noon Dec. 23 and 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 25.
Other performers include Rick Charette, Laura Darrell, Melanie Dorice Saucier, Joan Kennedy with Dan Merrill, Lew Colby, Fullam and the Camden Hills Regional High School Chamber Singers, Gorge Lopez and Maggie Coffin.
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: