Andy Kim shares the magic behind his annual Christmas special
Returning to Massey Hall on December 6, the event is poised to be a heartwarming evening of music and joy
The Andy Kim Christmas has become a cherished and true hallmark of the holiday season. Returning to Toronto’s iconic Massey Hall this December 6, the highly anticipated event brings together a lineup of beloved Canadian artists for an evening of intimate performances, all in the spirit of the holidays.
“I’m so thankful for Toronto’s community of talented artists, each year they come together and volunteer their time for such a worthy cause,” says Kim. “The heart of this great city continues to inspire as we unite for an evening of music and love.”
Kim’s musical journey, which began at the age of 16, has been adorned with accolades, including two JUNO Awards, an induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, plus a forthcoming appointment to the Order of Canada in 2024. His enduring musical legacy is celebrated by fans who continue to find joy in his chart-topping hits, such as “Rock Me Gently” and the iconic “Sugar, Sugar.” In conversation with Toronto Life, Kim shared what guests can look forward to from this year’s program, his favourite memories from years past, and the sentiment behind this annual celebration.
Congrats on 19 years of The Andy Kim Christmas! How does it feel to reach such a milestone?
It’s all a wonder, and in so many ways feels just like it did when we began. There are a lot of emotions and a lot of decisions to make. But most of all, it’s about giving, sharing, discovery and a community in search of its moment of clarity. It all ties back to the reason we started the Andy Kim Christmas: to help your neighbours and strangers when they need it.
How did the idea for The Andy Kim Christmas come about, and what motivated you to create this annual celebration of music?
I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been surrounded by melancholy around Christmas time. I thought, ‘what better way to combat that feeling than to surround myself with artists and songs?’ The added bonus was to donate our heartbeats to a noble cause. Now, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
The event supports programming at CAMH. Could you elaborate on why you chose this particular cause and the impact it has had over the years?
I received a call from Donna Slaight, director of the CAMH Foundation Board, who asked if I’d come to CAMH and hear about a program she was working on called Gifts of Light. I loved the concept—a space where patients can find clothing of their choosing. She explained that patients come to CAMH at all hours – sometimes in the middle of the night – with just a sheet wrapped around them. A new pair of jeans, new sneakers, or even new socks can help with self-esteem in significant ways. I resonated with the program because I believe self-esteem is one way to open your heart to a better thought process. I’ll buy a sweater, come home, open the box, put it on, and look in the mirror. I feel great. This program is an opportunity to pay that feeling forward.
What can attendees expect from this year’s The Andy Kim Christmas, and are there any hints you can give about the lineup of musical guests?
The special is built on a community of artists whose purpose is to bring joy and help those who especially need it. This year Alex Lifeson, Men Without Hats, Maestro Fresh Wes, The Sadies, Beverley Mahood, The Good Brothers, Tom Wilson, The Damn Truth, Erica Ehm, and my dear friend Ron Sexsmith will all be a part of the special. Plus, Sean Cullen will join us as our host!
You’ve had an incredible array of artists perform over the years. How do you go about selecting the lineup?
It tends to be a different mix of artists each year, including friends of mine and up-and-coming artists I’ve just heard of and think would make a great addition to the lineup.
Can you share some memorable moments from past years that stand out to you?
A few years ago, Gordon Lightfoot became an audience member. When he came backstage at intermission, all of the artists froze, rushing to have their photos taken with him. Another really special moment was in 2021, when I was given a Key to the City. I cried like a baby and couldn’t hold my composure. It was totally embarrassing but a moment I’ll always cherish.