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This Year

Watch for fabulous floats, giant helium balloons, and celebrity performances by one of the Top Five female groups of all time, The Pointer Sisters, and American rhythm and blues vocal favorites, The Spinners. American singer-songwriter Debbie Gibson will perform songs from her eleventh studio album, Winterlicious, and C&C Music Factory will make “Everybody Dance Now!”

Four new marching bands including the Gulf Coast Shark Band (Naples, FL), Greendale High School Marching Band (Greendale, WI), Vandalia-Butler Marching Aviators And Kickline (Vandalia, OH), and the Archbold High School Bluestreak Marching Band (Archbold, OH) will march their way down The Avenue. Floating high above the crowds will be Twinkles the Snowman, beautiful gift packages, and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital balloon.

Performers appearing during the television broadcast will include the Broadway In Chicago cast from The Lion King, performing now at the Cadillac Palace, the cast of Wicked, and Lookkingglass Theater’s Tin Soldier. After performing on the parade route, The Spinners will offer a medley of their top hits for the television production’s finale.

Santa Claus will soar down the route with lots of snow and cheer on the grand finale float presented by Wintrust to officially signal the start of the holiday season. The event culminates with the Wintrust Fireworks Spectacular over the Chicago River starting at 7:00 p.m.

Read more about our featured talent below, including live musical performances and special appearances!

2022 Musical Talent and Special Appearances

  • The Pointer Sisters

    The Pointer Sisters began their formal vocal training in their father's church, The Church of Godin West Oakland, California. They went on to achieve worldwide fame and have secured a place in pop music history as a dynamic female group! Their first performance in Los Angeles at the Troubadour club was hailed by critics for its versatility and range and called The Pointer Sisters "the most exciting thing to hit show business in years." Their 1973 debut album gave us the singles, "Yes We Can, Can," which reached #11 on Billboard magazine's pop singles chart.

    In recent years, the group has performed with some of the greatest symphony orchestras in the world, including San Francisco, Jacksonville, Atlanta's symphony orchestra and the renowned Boston Pops. The Pointer Sisters were a smash hit at Night of the Proms, which spanned over 50 sold-out performances throughout Germany, Holland and Belgium, and has secured the group many more successful tours in Europe. In 2004,the group recorded a live CD/DVD, which captured the energetic Pointers performing the hits that fans of all ages continue to enjoy!

  • Debbie Gibson

    Debbie Gibson burst onto the music scene at 16 and instantly became the youngest artist in history to write, produce and perform a number one hit, "Foolish Beat." She is still the youngest female and has held the world record for more than three decades. Gibson has sold more than 16 million albums and has starred in17 musicals in 17 years, from Broadway's Les Misérables to the West End's Grease.

    In 2019, Gibson joined NKOTB on The Mixtape Arena Tour. Later that year, she also served as a celebrity judge on Nickelodeon’s “America’s Most Musical Family.” In 2020, her single “Girls Night Out” soared to No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard and U.K. Music Week charts.

    2021 was a busy year for Gibson. Her guest starring role in the musical episode of “Lucifer” debuted May28 on Netflix. She completed her “Debbie Gibson & Joey McIntyre: Live from Las Vegas” mini residency at The Venetian® Resort Las Vegas. Gibson released a new duet of “Lost in Your Eyes,” featuring Joey McIntyre, as well as the DJ Tracy Young co-penned “One Step Closer,” with an exclusive remix debuting on the Debbie Gibson Peloton Ride. Her first pop album of original material in 20 years, The Body Remembers, came out on her own label Stargirl Records to rave reviews. The new album promptly shot up to No.2 on the Apple Pop Sales Charts and achieved one million streams in its first month.

    Gibson shows no signs of slowing down. Earlier this year, Stargirl Records released “One Step Closer Remixes” reaching No. 3 on the Swiss dance charts and landed at No.8 on the Commercial Pop Music Week chart in the UK. Gibson is the new brand ambassador for Dr. Kellyanne’s Bone Broth and appeared on CBS Secret Celebrity Renovation. In June, Gibson embarked on a 15-city U.S. solo tour of The Body Remembers and, in August, celebrated the 35th anniversary of her debut album Out of the Blue with three sold out shows in NYC. Her first full length holiday album Winterlicious will be released October 21 and her holiday tour of the same name will kick off November25. The 14-track album contains a blend of classics, a duet of "White Christmas" with her Daddy Joe and originals, including a duet called “Heartbreak Holiday” with her other favorite Joe, Joey McIntyre, co-written by the pop soulmates themselves. In addition, the holiday album will include a 30th anniversary edition of “Sleigh Ride Remastered,” that will continue to benefit the Special Olympics.

    From No. 1 hits and platinum albums to starring roles on stage and screen, Debbie Gibson is a true entertainer with timeless talent and charisma. Follow @DebbieGibson on all social media and more info with tour dates at DebbieGibsonOfficial.com.

     

  • C&C Music Factory

    EVERYBODYDANCE NOW!!... With over 8 million units sold, it was and still is today, the song heard round the world! As the front man and co-founder of the international multi-platinum selling group C and C Music Factory, Freedom Williams has traveled and performed around the world extensively, and has yet to meet a crowd that he couldn’t captivate. His performing abilities are just one of the things that keep the crowds mesmerized. Freedom was born in Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Queens, New York which is where it all began. Queens, New York has been the home to some of the greatest rappers and entertainers to ever grace a stage.
    Freedom went to Junior High School in Hollis, Queens, home to RUN-DMC, Jam Master Jay, and L.L. Cool J. Freedom wasn’t just a watcher of Hip-Hop culture; he was one of the innovators and early hands-on creators. He would rock basement parties as MC Tiny Tim, a name he took from the 70’s and 80’s funk group The Fat Back Band and their song entitled “King Tim the 3rd,” which predated Sugar Hill’s “Rappers Delight” as the first commercially successful Rap record.
    Freedom’s first commercially successful single was put out on the independent label Nu-Groove Records owned by Frank and Judy Russell he was featured as a guest vocalist. Def Jam records executive Kelly Monaghan, introduced Freedom to them. Interestingly enough, the song was called “Rise to Freedom,” which was produced by the 7 member, house music super group, Total Science out of East New York. The single featured Underground Network founder Barbara Tucker.
    Freedom’s second single entitled “Get-Dumb,” which was distributed by Vendetta/A&M Records and co-produced by Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez of the now famous Masters at Work tandem (which also includes Little Louis Vega), was on the B-side of the hit song “You’re my One And Only (True Love)” by Seduction, which was put together by mega-hit producers Clivilles and Cole. Shortly thereafter, Freedom, Cole and Clivilles would form C and C Music Factory featuring Freedom Williams. As soon as Rob and Dave (Clivilles and Cole) heard Freedom rap, it was a wrap. With five #1 Dance/Club Play hits, including “Gonna Make You Sweat” (Everybody Dance Now), “Rock N Roll”, Things That Make You Go Hmmm”, “Just a Touch of Love” and “Do You Wanna Get Funky” in the early to mid 1990s, it is hard to argue that fact.
    Freedom is currently working on film projects, community activism and new music. His recent singles “Mind bounce” with newcomers, Speakerbox, peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Dance chart with “Party Time” also making noise on the overseas charts. He is also featured on the hit single “Underlying Feeling” with the Dance Diva, Sylvia Tosun. For 2013 Freedom has collaborated with DJ Unk (“Walk it Out”, “2 Step”) protégé
    “Stranger Candy” and the internationally acclaimed DJ/Production team “Audio Junkies” to bring you the New Millennium “Everybody Dance!” and a new album of hot new material to solidify his legendary status in the EDM and Hip Hop worlds.
    Freedom is still captivating crowds around the world and is arguably the most recognizable voice in dance music history but he is also a Hip-Hop force to be reckoned with.
  • The Spinners

    Timeless in a way that few other acts are, The Spinners are one of the most iconic and enduring groups in R&B history. With a towering legacy spanning over six decades, The Spinners have never lost their universal appeal. In 2021, they returned with their first all-new original album, the aptly-titled, “Round the Block and Back Again.”

    The group created and came to define the smooth sound of Philadelphia Soul, channeling the highs and lows of romance and heartbreak into a catalog of classic hits, beloved across generations. Throughout the years the Spinners remained perched atop the Pop, R&B, and Adult Contemporary Charts, with smash singles like, “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” “Then Came You,” “The Rubberband Man'' and many more – earning six Grammy nominations, 18 Platinum and Gold Albums, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and selling millions of records worldwide in the process. Their legendary repertoire has earned a permanent place in the American songbook.

    Though The Spinners popularized, and came to epitomize, the lush sound of Philly Soul in the 1970s, they got their start in Detroit at Motown in 1961. The Spinners signed with Atlantic Records in 1972, teaming up with producer Thom Bell in Philadelphia where the group blossomed under his production aegis.

    The Spinners had another classic hit single, “Working My Way Back To You,” topping the Pop and R&B charts, earning the group its twelfth gold record. The “The Love Trippin" album (1980) also included “Cupid,” one of the fastest-selling records in The Spinners’ illustrious career. The follow-up LP, “Labor of Love,” featured such stand-out tunes as “Yesterday Once More,” and “Long Live Soul Music.”

    Four decades later The Spinners have not skipped a single beat as “Round the Block and Back Again” makes wonderfully clear. Melding intricate harmonies with breathtaking vocal acrobatics, the album, released in August 2021, showcases The Spinners at their soulful, multi-octave best.

    A perennial fan favorite, the Spinners continue to perform to sold out crowds at home and abroad while maintaining a loyal coterie of die-hard aficionados. The Spinners have left an indelible impact in the annals of music history, and perhaps most importantly, on the hearts of millions of fans throughout the world.

  • Fritz Hagar

    Fritz Hager grew up in Tyler, Texas and found his love of music through theatre programs from elementary to high school. Fritz spent years practicing guitar and learning the craft of songwriting. After realizing college wasn’t the right direction for him, Fritz decided to audition for the 20th season of American Idol where he quickly became a judge and fan favorite. While on the Idol, music from his debut EP made their way onto the iTunes Charts quickly followed by the single he released during the show,“Hearts Align” which reached #5 on the Alternative Charts. Hager made it into the Top 5, wrapping his Idol journey with a live performance of “Hearts Align” on Live with Kelly and Ryan. Since his time on the show, Fritz Hager has toured with Maddie Poppe, opened for Leah Marlene in front of 5,000 hometown fans and has been hard at work in the studio writing and teasing up coming music.

  • Kurt Elling

    Renowned for his singular combination of robust swing and poetic insight, two-time GRAMMY winner Kurt Elling has secured his place among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. The New York Times proclaimed Elling, “the standout male vocalist of our time”. Over a twenty-five year career of touring and recording, Elling has won three Prix du Jazz Vocal (France), two German
    Echo Awards, two Dutch Edison Awards, and has been nominated for a GRAMMY award fifteen times. He has had a 14-year run atop the DownBeat Critics and Readers polls, and has won
    twelve Jazz Journalists Awards for “Male Vocalist of the Year”.

    Kurt Elling’s voice is instantly recognizable, embracing listeners with his warm, rich baritone and navigating the full span of his four-octave range as a virtuoso improvisor and a compelling
    storyteller. The Guardian (UK) has named Kurt Elling, “a kind of Sinatra with superpowers,” and, “one of jazz’s all-time great vocalists.”

    Elling has recorded and toured with Branford Marsalis, Danilo Perez, Stefon Harris, Fred Hersch, James Morrison, and Charlie Hunter. He has performed extensively with larger
    ensembles like The Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra, The National Youth Orchestra (led by Sean Jones), The Bob Mintzer Big Band, The BBC Concert Symphony (led by Guy Barker) The
    Metropole Orchestra (Holland), The Irish Radio and Television Orchestra (led by Brian Byrne), The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and The WDR Orchestra and Big Band (Germany).

    The Wall Street Journal said, “Elling combines authenticity with stunning originality.” The Washington Post declared that, “since the mid-1990s, no singer in jazz has been as daring,
    dynamic or interesting as Kurt Elling.”

    Elling’s dynamism is enhanced exponentially by the fact that he consistently generates new vocal material by writing and recording signature and definitive lyrics to the compositions of foundational jazz composers like of John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul. Additionally, Kurt Elling has co-created multi-disciplinary performances for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater and The City of Chicago. Jazz At Lincoln Center saw the world premier of The Big Blind, an entirely new jazz musical-in-progress Elling is co-writing with collaborator Phil Galdston (“Save The Best For Last”). National Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky declared that, “In Kurt Elling’s art, the voice of jazz gives new spiritual presence to the ancient, sweet and powerful bond between poetry and music.”

    Elling has toured the world in a variety of contexts, including UNESCO-sponsored “International Jazz Day” performances in Havana, Cuba, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in Melbourne, Australia and in Washington DC. He has twice performed at the White House, including a performance in collaboration with the late Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony Orchestra for President Obama’s first State Dinner. He has served as Artist-In-Residence at the Monterey and Singapore Jazz Festivals. As a music industry leader, Elling spent six years serving as a Trustee and two years as Vice Chairman of The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

    Kurt Elling will release “SuperBlue”, a new recording in collaboration with Charlie Hunter and members of the future groove band Butcher Brown in the spring of 2021 on editionrecords.com.

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