Kenny Rogers' husky voice, his sense of humor and the disarming honesty he brings to simple ballads have made him a hit not only with country music fans but fans of pop music across the board. Songs like "The Gambler," "Ruby" and "Islands in the Stream" -- the magnificently overblown duet with Dolly Parton -- have made him a superstar worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Now 73, Rogers is on the road with his Christmas show. Begun by accident 30 years ago -- a fan at a December show yelled out "Why don't you sing a Christmas song?" -- the concert has become close to the singer's heart. He is in a mellow mood. Earlier this year, he released his first gospel album, available exclusively at Cracker Barrel stores, called "The Love of God." The Christmas show is right up his alley. "They tell you you can't say 'Merry Christmas,' " he told The Buffalo News. "Well, I can. So, Merry Christmas."
Kenny Rogers' Christmas show -- the first half his pop hits, the second half Christmas -- takes place at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle). Tickets are $45-$80. For info, call 885-5000.
-- Mary Kunz Goldman