Tradition and history play a big part in the "Christmas in Washington" concert that the president and first lady have attended since 1982, said director-producer Michael Stevens.

"This is the 24th year," Stevens said. "We like to have songs that people know, the real classics."

Generally, the concerts have been reflective of the musical tastes of the president at the time.

Ronald Reagan, who attended the first "Christmas in Washington" concert, was a huge fan of Dinah Shore and Andy Williams, Stevens said. Shore and Williams have been among the scores of notables who have performed over the years.

This year's hour-long program is hosted for a second year by "Dr. Phil" McGraw and wife Robin McGraw (center). It features performances from (clockwise from top) Ciara, Carrie Underwood, CeCe Winans, Jane Monheit and Rascal Flatts, along with the Click Five.

The program will be taped this weekend at the National Building Museum before an invitation-only crowd of up to 850 dignitaries.

The concert is live-to-tape, Stevens said, which means "putting on a show with no stops," then making simple edits such as shortening times between acts.

Anecdotes about Christmas in the capital are interwoven with the music. The program was written by Stevens's father, George Stevens Jr., who also is executive producer.

The show, which benefits the Children's National Medical Center in the District, also will include performances by the American Family Choir, the University Chorale, the U.S. Army Band Herald Trumpets, and Ian Fraser and the Christmas in Washington Orchestra.

-- Judith S. Gillies

Christmas in Washington


8 p.m. on TNT