It was almost fifty years ago that Jeff Kellam went on the air in Richmond, Virginia with an experimental Presbyterian-produced radio program for youth. That month-long trial run became a syndicated rock music show called “Celebration Rock,” and it ran for over 20 years on stations from Florida to Oregon, and from Texas to Binghamton’s “The Whale” (WAAL).
Jeff will mark the occasion with us on the 50th anniversary of that program’s premier, Sunday, February 11, at a luncheon following worship that morning. Using music from his sizable collection of vinyl records (just ask Joan how many he’s kept all these years), Jeff will present “Fifty Years of American Pop Music,” choosing songs from the 1940s into the 1990s. He said, “I want to start with music our older church members might have grown up with, the big band era, and move forward to the songs I played as my ‘radio days’ came to an end. So, we’ll move from Glenn Miller to U-2, playing excerpts of ‘hit songs.’”
The hour-long program will center on the “messages” in the music, from the influence of the Second World War on music teens danced to at Johnson City’s George F. Pavilion to the protest songs of late 1960s AM radio, and on to the musical story-tellers of the 1990s as the CD age arrived.
When Jeff retired from pastoral ministry ten years ago, he started a blog about the beginnings of “Celebration Rock,” and you can find it at www.celebrationrock.wordpress.com. Look at the archives on the right side of the page, and go back to the entries in February 2008 to begin the story.