The Living Christmas Card (LCC) was founded in 1987 by Sheri and Craig Marshall of Lewisville, Texas with one a cappella quartet of carolers. As the ensemble's popularity increased, the Marshalls found themselves unable to respond to the volume of requests, particularly at peak times and days, i.e, Saturday nights in December. To meet market demands, the couple trained and costumed a second quartet, and, as the number of requests continued to increase the number of singers to meet the demand.

Today, LCC is a network of more than 100 singers performing in quartets in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Houston and Detroit. In addition, a compact disc of LCC holiday repertoire and a video have been recorded by the original, premiere performing quartet, located in the Metroplex.

All calls in each city for LCC appearances ring at an 800-number in Lewisville; the Marshalls then contact individual singers in each city and assign performance dates, times and locations. LCC has been marketed primarily through entertainment and party services in each area, but many calls come in as a result of word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied buyers and requests for return engagements.

The Marshalls maintain a wardrobe of Victorian costumes for singers in all cities. Each costume is carefully researched and designed to replicate closely the elegant, late-1800s attire and is custom-tailored based on each singer's measurements. Sheri Marshall designs and constructs all bonnets worn by female singers; men's top hats are purchased. Women's costumes are made of fabrics in jewel tones e.g., royal purples, emerald greens, ruby reds, topaz golds and sapphire blues. Gentlemen singers are attired in dapper tailcoats and waistcoats of shades of black and smoky grays.

Selection and training of the singers has changed as the business has grown; today, LCC singers do not rehearse or perform in specific quartets. Instead, the Marshalls hold auditions early each fall in each city. Qualified singers receive LCC training materials that have been designed by the Marshalls so any trained singer can sing with any other three singers and produce a perfect product, complete with identical phrasings, breathing, dynamics and enunciations.

LCC singers learn their parts from sheet music and from CDs recorded by the premiere performing group. Three parts are recorded on one track, the fourth on a separate track, so a new singer can learn his or her part by controlling volume levels of each track. A new alto, for example, can sing with her part only, then add the other three parts, then diminish the alto track volume so she sings with only the other three parts, just as she will in performance. Provided sheet music is marked specifically as to dynamics, phrasings, breathing, etc., to match precisely the tapes. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, many of the singers are music graduates of the University of North Texas (UNT). Principal LCC arrangers are Craig Marshall and Jett Cheek, Marshall's former classmate at UNT.

Detroit was chosen for expansion because Craig Marshall is a Detroit-area native and has maintained strong contacts in the the Motor City music community. Other cities are locations of former LCC singers who wish to continue involvement with LCC on a professional level. The Marshalls anticipate the day soon will come when they restructure the business into a franchise operation, turning over the audition process and specific singer assignments to former members, while they continue to handle all bookings.

Marshall credits the remarkable success of LCC to three elements: (1) consistent, high quality performance by and overall professionalism of LCC singers, (2) carefully selected repertoire and custom arrangements written for maximum listener interest and (3) the outstanding, authentic visual image created by custom-tailored Victorian costumes.