Holiday video greeting for 2017 highlights talents of School of Music students


Editor’s note: WCU home page photo of a snowy campus courtesy of Keith Kunstmann

Western Carolina University’s Office of Communications and Public Relations teamed up with students and faculty in the School of Music to produce the university’s 2017 holiday greeting to campus, community, alumni and friends.

The video features the School of Music’s Catamount Singers and Electric Soul performing a rousing rendition of “What Christmas Means to Me,” with Chancellor David O. Belcher and wife Susan joining students to wish all members of the Catamount nation a happy holiday season.

The university holiday video has been an annual tradition since December 2011, the Belchers’ first holiday season at WCU.

“For this year’s video, we wanted to profile the incredible talents of our students in the School of Music,” said Bill Studenc, director of the Office of Communications and Public Relations. “We did hit a little bit of a roadblock in terms of obtaining the necessary rights to use the song, but our faculty colleagues in the School of Music were able to work things out with the licensing company just in the nick of time. It was like a little Christmas miracle.”

Members of the Catamount Singers taking part in the project were Claire Lemke, Rena Dawkins, Keely Smith, Justin Gray, Jacob Plaisted and Malik Rowland. They were directed by Bruce Frazier, WCU’s Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Commercial and Electronic Music,

“This project has been a wonderful and fun learning experience for our students and well represents the mission of our Commercial and Electronic Music Program,” Frazier said.

Members of Electric Soul are Spence Howell, trumpet; Tyler Townson, tenor sax; Sarah Rodgers, trombone; Matthew Brooks, guitar; Blake Jones, guitar; David Kellogg, synthesizer; Christopher Benavides, bass guitar; and Daniel Myers, percussion. Jon Henson, assistant director of athletic bands, is director of Electric Soul.

Frazier and Henson collaborated on the arrangement of “What Christmas Means to Me,” written by Allen Story, Anna Gordy Gaye and George Gordy. The song was made popular by Stevie Wonder in 1967.

Samuel Wallace, videographer in the Office of Communications and Public Relations, directed the video, which was produced and recorded in WCU’s Center for Applied Technology recording studio. The production crew consisted of student Keith Kuntsman, technical support analyst Eric Smith and Travis Stanley, assistant videographer.


Here’s a nostalgic look back at some of WCU’s previous holiday videos.

2016: See the video:

2015: See the video:

2014: See the video.

2013: See the video.

2012: See the video.

2011: See the video.