Ladies of the Cape Fear Christmas

A holiday television special seventeen years in the making.

Written and Photographed By: Mike Raab

Seventeen years ago, on Thursday, April 29, 1999, local record producer, Brad Smith, gathered the finest female talent in the Cape Fear region  for an iconic concert at  Thalian Hall in historic downtown Wilmington. The concert was to celebrate the completion of the Ladies of the Cape Fear CD that he had worked several months on. It was a red carpet evening full of prestigious presenters with each act taking center stage. To make it even more important, it was a benefit concert for the Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, and it was a big success.

7-laura-mclean2Fast-forward to Saturday, October 29, 2016, at the UNCW television studio on campus in Wilmington. David A. Pernell, Department of Communication Studies, and Bill Bolduc, Associate Professor of Communications Studies, gathered a crew of enthusiastic students to video a “Ladies of the Cape Fear Christmas” special. Monty’s Home, probably one of the best-known non-profit companion pet education and resource organizations in the Cape Fear region, saw this as a marvelous holiday opportunity to re-unite many of the original ladies in a television show that would not only entertain, but bring awareness to what Monty’s Home is all about.

The first questions were: How many of the original Ladies of the Cape Fear were still around?How many of them were still making music? The pleasantly surprising answer was almost all of them. The next question was: How many of these talented individuals would like to do this show? Again the answer was almost all of them. The theme of the special was traditional Christmas and holiday music.The length of the show was 30 minutes, so 7 acts would be ideal for the timing. A song list was established so  there would be no duplicates.

6-al-lavigne_ginger-ussery_buddy-brown2All of the ladies involved are well-known names in the Cape Fear music community. You may recognize at least one or more of them. Participants included: Adelaide Brooks, Barbara Gallagher, Ginger Ussery, Laura McLean, Nel Moore Nichols, The Jewell Girls, Trevlyn Ford, and Rebecca Best. Guest musicians included: Lan Nichols, Al Lavigne, and Buddy Brown. This impressive gathering brought every flavor of style to the taping —folk, classical, country, instrumental, soul, and acapella. The bonus to the group was vocalist  Ginger Ussery, who not only performed, but also decorated the studio set in holiday finery.

Monty’s Home president, Barbara Raab, spoke briefly between some of the acts about what Monty’s Home is, what it does, and why you shouldn’t adopt a pet until after the holidays. To close out the show she introduced some volunteers and their adopted Monty’s Home graduates. To learn more about this fine organization and all that it does in our community, go to

9-lan-nichols_nel-moore-nichols2Watching the playback of each act on the studio monitors made one realize just how special the “Ladies of the Cape Fear Christmas” show really is and what great performances each act put on. The only thing one can wish for now is that it will not be another seventeen years before the ladies  gather  again to make great music.


“Ladies of the Cape Fear Christmas” is available on Time Warner Cable Local on Demand, Channel 1020, from now through January 1. This can be seen in Wilmington, Morehead City, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte in North Carolina and Columbia, Florence, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head in South Carolina. For those of you who are not on a Time Warner Cable system, “Ladies of the Cape Fear Christmas” will be made available on YouTube.

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