Here’s an early Christmas present for music fans: The team behind Gospelfest, the devotional music extravaganza held at the Prudential Center right around Mother’s Day every year, will be mounting a holiday concert this year.
A Brick City Christmas won’t be as long as Gospelfest, which begins with regional choirs in the early afternoon and concludes around midnight with legends of church music, but organizer A. Curtis Farrow is promising to fill Prudential with choirs, preachers, dancers and soloists. Farrow has already booked two Gospelfest favorites to appear — Cissy Houston is scheduled to sing Christmas carols with a massive choir, and T.D. Jakes will open the show with an inspirational address.
A Brick City Christmas comes to the Newark arena on Dec. 13, and tickets for the event are currently on sale.
We asked Farrow about the upcoming show.
Q: How is A Brick City Christmas going to differ from Gospelfest?
A: Gospelfest is really all about the music. It’s music, music and more music. Brick City Christmas will have music and dancing, but it’s also going to be about leaders, speaking to people about love and joy. It’s not for any specific religion. It’s about having a consistent message of love. In both Gospelfest and A Brick City Christmas, we bring in a piece of our culture that has spread around the world — the culture of telling a story. At Gospelfest, all of that story is told through music. Here, leaders are telling the story, too — not just Bishop Jakes, but also (Baltimore pastor) Dr. Jamal Bryant, and (Highway Church Bishop) Liston Page, Jr.
Q: You’ll be adding more musical acts, too?
A: Yes we will, and we’re working on that now. We’ll also be bringing in choirs from all over the region. We’ve already got Cissy Houston, and she’ll be singing “O Holy Night” in front of a 300-voice choir. Which ought to be phenomenal!
Q: Do you see this as something that could be an annual tradition like Gospelfest?
A: Absolutely. That’s the goal. Prudential Center has been wonderful, very enthusiastic. We wanted to do something for the community at large — something that can happen every year. And we didn’t do $120 tickets. The most expensive ticket is $60, and there are many more inexpensive seats. It’s a very affordable event.
My real dream is for this to get bigger and bigger. With each year, we will keep cultivating it.
Q: This is something you’ve wanted to do for awhile. What motivated you to make it happen for Christmas 2014?
A: I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time. And I have to tell you — my big reason for wanting to do this is because I really feel like we get to the holiday and people are shopping and doing so many things and not understanding what it’s all about. It’s about love. There are so many people right now who are hurting, and who need love and hope and encouragement. So I wanted to bring the greatest inspirational leaders and the greatest gospel music in the country to Newark. Gospelfest has such great energy — energy you can’t pay for — and I want that energy for this, too. I want people hugging and clapping! People are going to leave on such a high.
We’re hoping to make this a toy drive as well. The thing that I’m most proud of is that we’re doing this in Newark, which is my heart. It’s all about this entire area coming together.