Sunday, September 16, 2012

DA CAPO -- Stairwell Caroller History -- CFMO FM, Gord Atkinson and a vinyl record in aid of Ronald McDonald House

Record album cover Christmas with the Stairwell Carollers
Dawn, Pete, Mike, Simon, Donald, Liz,
Holly, Diane, Denyse and Marjorie
pose in front of the fireplace at Ottawa's Ronald McDonald House
        On the eve of our 7th CD, Cantate Domino, I want to go back and take a fond look at our very first recording on vinyl. In 1986 we made an album for CFMO FM, "Christmas with the Stairwell Carollers", which made over $53,000 for Ronald MacDonald House and inspired our charitable mandate.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

One Christmas, in the late 70's, our tiny group of 10, as yet unnamed, carollers took a bus to the Bayshore shopping center to do some strolling and caroling.  In those days, there was no need to inform malls or ask permission, and we did not collect money, so we were usually just encouraged and welcomed by everyone who happened to be there.  
Stairwell Carollers singing in Rideau Center overpass
Singing in the overpass at Rideau center when there was still a good echo to be had,
Gord Atkinson - one of the most famous radio celebrities for the FM Oldies radio show on CFMO - was also there, heading up the Xmas Exchange Broadcast - a charitable event that raised funds to help needy families at Christmas.
Gord's wife, Elaine, who was shopping at the time, heard us and told Gord that there was a carolling group there in the mall perfect for the broadcast.  He called us over during a break and asked us what we called our little group.

How embarrassing -- we HAD no name.

After an awkward moment or two, one of our altos and my long-time friend, Dawn, piped up -- "The Stairwell Carollers" and that was it -- our name forever cast in radio history, as Gord introduced us for the first time ever over the airwaves. I can't remember what carols we sang, but Gord claimed us as his own discovery (right up there with Rich Little) and it was a bit of a whirlwind from there.
Stairwell Carollers sing for the 1989 Xmas exchange broadcast
Gord Atkinson introduces us on live radio on the 1989 Xmas Exchange Broadcast
With Gord Atkinson as our DJ mentor, we were on the radio quite a bit over the years, and became acquainted with other other radio personalities. Of course, we sang for  every Christmas exchange broadcast for many years to come.

CFMO had already produced a vinyl recording of carols to benefit local charity, and Gord suggested they produce a recording of the Stairwell Carollers to benefit Ronald McDonald House at CHEO, Ottawa.

 It's amusing to see where the album still turns up on the 'Net. Amazon, Ebay and other venders usually have a couple available. Here is the Google search if you want to try to get one. I personally still have two copies, but one is warped. I believe they only did one large pressing.

For those who are not aware, The House provides a comfortable home-type environment  that can house entire families for a nominal fee per night (free if they cannot afford it) who want to stay near their critically ill children while they receive treatment at Cheo.  
McDonald's funded the original construction of the Ronald McDonald Houses, but aside from the occasional fund-raising campaign, do not pay for any of the upkeep.
You can pre-order CANTATE DOMINO HERE

Cantate Domino is dedicated to the memory of Paul Churchill, Tenor, whose voice and heart will be forever remembered.

Cantate Domino will be pressed in October -- if you live in the Ottawa area, you can purchase our CDs directly from choir members. 

You can also buy them at Ottawa area stores, online, or at our live concerts.


  1. That is an amazing amount of money to make-well done! I just pinned this!

    Thanks for sharing this at Say G'day Saturday. It was great to to see you there!

    Best wishes and hope you have have a wonderful weekend!
    Natasha in Oz

    1. Thanks Natasha
      It was an amazing kickstart to our choir and very motivating. The funniest time was when eight of us crammed into a radio announcers booth to sing live on his show.
      So nice to see someone here who appreciates good news versus the sensational :)

  2. Wow what a great way to celebrate Christmas. How inspirational. Thank you for sharing with Motivational Monday

    1. Thanks for dropping by! We've had a great time over the years with the group, but the good we can do just makes it that much more worth it.


You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Holly :)

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