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Church concerts celebrate Christmas

Posted: December 24, 2010 4:58 p.m.
Updated: December 25, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Mandie Pinto sings at A Soulful Christmas concert Dec. 18. The free concert was one of four held at Real Life Church in Valencia.

For many churches in the Santa Clarita Valley, Christmas isn’t all about gifts and toys.

It’s a chance to give back to the community and help those in need through song and music.

Real Life Church in Valencia and Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Canyon Country did just that by hosting Christmas concerts for the community.

A lifesaving message
Paul Dowler, the creative arts director for Real Life Church, and Mandie Pinto came up with the idea to offer a series of concerts in lieu of a traditional Christmas program. The church offered the concerts free to the public and only asked for voluntary donations to support the service project A Million Meals, which was launched on Labor Day.

The project aims to raise $1 million within the next three months to fund the packing and shipping of a million meals to send to Haiti, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Malawi and the Dominican Republic.

“We wanted to do something bigger and launch it at Christmas time,” Dowler said.

The concerts took place Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18 showcased the musical talents of Monique Donnelly, Andrea Hammond, Mandie Pinto and the band Dan and Leland.

“We wanted to make every concert accessible to anyone and everyone regardless of the genre,” Dowler said. “We also wanted the concerts to be engaging, entertaining and thought provoking.”

Each night featured a different genre of music, from rock ‘n’ roll to gospel, with dancers, backup vocalists and even a drum corp. The concerts also featured original lighting design and fog.

Nearly 2,000 attended at least one of the four concerts.

“We feel people should be entertained,” Dowler said. “Entertained people are engaged and paying attention; we have a lifesaving message to give them.”

‘Little drummer boy’
Robby Robinson, a 33-year veteran of the music business and Frankie Valli’s music director, created the idea for Jam for Jesus more than 19 years ago.

Jam for Jesus, which has been held at Bethlehem Lutheran Church for the past 12 years, is a Christmas concert featuring the musical talents of more than 20 musicians and vocalists.

“The concept is like ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’” Robinson said. “We all have gifts and talents that the Lord gives to us and we hope to give back to him. Hopefully, in the process, we help other people toward the Lord.”

The concert, which is always free to the public, features an eclectic mix of all genres of music from classical to pop, with many A-list musicians.

Robinson believes the concert helps convey the true meaning of Christmas by featuring Christ-centered and Christmas-oriented songs.

“We hope the audience is spiritually uplifted and inspired by the performances,” Robinson said.

More than 500 people attended the Dec. 16 concert, which lasted about three hours.

“The focus was to praise the Lord,” Robinson said. “When you get that much talent together, there is an energy that comes off the stage.

“We entertained the audience with the talent, and hopefully inspired and spiritually uplifted them.”


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