Louis "Chip" Davis signs his business correspondence as composer/president. And, he notes, "there's not a lot of company presidents that sign as composer, too."
But Davis -- an Ohio native who studied music at the University of Michigan -- is a prototype for making art and commerce work.
Musically he leads the collective Mannheim Steamroller, which he started in 1974 and has sold more than 28 million albums in the U.S. He also helped his friend Bill Fries create the country music character C.W. McCall and produced the 1975 hit "Convoy." And Davis also founded and directs American Gramophone, a successful music and lifestyle company based in Nebraska.
If Davis and Mannheim Steamroller are best known for anything, however, it's Christmas music -- 11 holiday albums including this year's Davis-composed "Christmas Symphony," which was recorded in Prague with members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. It debuted at No. 42 on the Billboard 200 and further cemented Mannheim Steamroller's stature as a leading Yuletide act, which Davis, despite other musical ambitions, doesn't mind a bit.
"We've been doing a Christmas show since 1984," notes Davis, 64, who also published a children's pop-up book, "My Little Christmas Tree." "The bottom line is it's a time for families and tradition and kids and the wonder and all that. There's a need for that grounding in today's society. A lot of time we don't have the quality time we should have.
"I'm just so lucky to have an opportunity to share what it is that I do and have people like it this much. I hope we're giving families an excuse to spend some time together in a little different way."
Mannheim Steamroller performs at 4:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $30-$85. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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