One of the greatest jazz influences ever, Louis Armstrong, said in the song “Christmas Night in Harlem” that “Harlem was one of the greatest communities in the world”. Pastor Paula B. Smith and the music ministry of Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church is on a mission to create that vibe as it is preparing to host A Big Band Christmas.

“Interpretations” will be held on Friday, December 16, 2022 at 7 pm in the church sanctuary located at 2334 Herman Street. This is the church’s first major public event since the beginning of Covid, which started in March of 2020.

The concert will feature The Fellas Brass Band, an entity comprised of members and alumni of Tennessee State’s Aristocrat of Bands. The members of the band are trumpetist Curtis Olawuni, saxophonist Jamal Cole, keyboardist Darrell Black, percussionist Richard Freeman, trombonist Keeshaun Brown, bassist and percussionist Joshua Knox and Marshun McGee who plays bass and trombone. Derrick Bridges, the minister of music and event organizer, said that he remembers making a statement that” there needed to be a merge of gospel music and HBCU bands in order for the world to experience this type of music on a different level. Three years later, AOB is Grammy nominated.”

The concert will feature a variety of tunes and styles. The vocalists will be Dr. Cynthia Wilson, the founder and director of The Junius B Dotson Institute for Music and Worship in the Black Church and Beyond; Dr. Marqo Patton, professor of music business at Belmont University; LeKeisha Cotten, founder and CEO of the Gulf Coast Gospel Music Awards; Darius Santiago, graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi; and members of Gordon Memorial Paula Chavis of The Hurd Agency and Arthur Henderson. The hosts of this wonderful event will be Carlos Hale, radio personality and CEO of Urban Soul Café, and the hardest working man in gospel radio, Damon King, program director of 760 AM The Gospel.

Langston Hughes, one of the era’s greatest writers said that “Perhaps the mission of an artist is to interpret beauty to people-the beauty within themselves.”
Bridges had this quote to share about the event, “Music has got a community vibe to it that pulls people together, and those communities are different in different places.” This quote is from artist Matt Berninger.

The attire for the event is the roaring 20’s and the Great Gatsby. It is encouraged, but not mandatory. Masks are mandatory. Tickets for the event may be purchased on Eventbrite or by calling the church office (615—329-2779) between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.