Payne, of course, is still with Thompson.
"He's the only person besides me who's been at every 'Joy to the World' show," Thompson said.
Thompson said they've tried to keep it interesting. Each year, he arranges new music, beginning around Thanksgiving. Each year, they bring in a different vocalist.
"During those first shows, we had Julie Adams on the show, Ethel Caffie-Austin and Jan Banks," Thompson said. "We showcased our local talent."
Eventually, as the show grew and became a larger radio presence, it added nationally known artists, including Susan Werner, Kendra and Fontella Bass, best known for the R&B classic "Rescue Me."
One of Thompson's favorite shows was with Toni Lynn Washington and the Appalachian Children's Chorus.
"I just loved the sound of her bluesy, soulful voice blending with the voices of the children's chorus. It was just a lot of fun."
Occasionally, Thompson invites back a particular vocalist. This year, Catherine Russell returns to the show.
"We just couldn't think of anyone we'd rather have back for this special show," he said. "She's just the perfect person for what we're doing this year."
Among the music selections this year, the band will perform a song or two made famous by pop singer Andy Williams. Williams is often referred to as "Mr. Christmas" because of his regular Christmas releases, holiday specials and the seasonal classic, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."
"We lost Andy Williams this year," Thompson said. "I think probably the first Christmas special I ever watched was an Andy Williams Christmas special, so this will be our little tribute to him."
Thompson didn't say what the plans might be for next year's "Joy to the World," only that there would be plans.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.