HOUSTON -- The Houston Council of the Arts hosted it is third fundraiser since its founding in April on Saturday, December 6th with producers and attendees both considering it a big success.

The event, which was a concert at the Mark and Sarah Juckes’ Old Ford Place on North Jackson, raised over $5,000 for renovations that are ongoing at the old movie theater downtown with just over $2,500 being raised through ticket sales and donations, coupled with a match grant from City Tourism.

“We are thrilled that people have been so receptive to our events,” says Janet Coker, the council’s director. “And we are so grateful to Nathan Carlisle for sharing his talents with us in this important endeavor.”

Carlisle, who wowed audiences at his first outdoor concert in Houston in September is Nathan is the grandson of James and Nancy Carlisle and the nephew of Mike and Carolyn Carlisle of Houston and a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Due to the COVID pandemic, he has been in Houston since the spring, to the benefit of local music lovers.

The show itself was an ensemble show, with many locals taking the stage along with Carlisle and Stephen and Debra White, vocalists from Memphis, Tennessee. Lisa Johnson played the piano and Steve Coker played the piano and guitar, Cameron Allen played the trumpet while Lee Ann Simmons and Carl Smetko added their voices on stage. In addition, the audience was treated to some caroling thanks to Crystel Ellison, Melissa Moore, Cameron Allen and Eric Malone .

Due to COVID concerns, tickets to the show were limited. Guests were required to wear masks and social distance, and hand sanitizing stations were placed throughout the 7,000 sq. ft. venue. Additionally, the reserved seating was sectioned out in to pods, with families and couple close to each other but spread out from other units. The concert was streamed live on Facebook for those who could not attend in person.

The show began with an invocation by Greg Ducker of the first United Methodist Church and some announcements, including awarding Lanny Wilson the CDF’s “Volunteer of the Year Award”. And then the concert, featuring well known Christmas songs from the years began and ended with a rousing sing-along and a standing ovation.

“This was an event of remarkable quality,” says Sean Johnson who helped with the concert, “It was an excellent branding event for the City of Houston…it’s these sorts of quality events that we want to continue to produce to bring prestige and positive notoriety to towns, and, judging from all the positive comments on Facebook from all over, we were successful in that. And we are looking forward to producing our next event, which we hope will take place in February.”

For those wanting the view the concert, it is available on the Houston Council of the Arts Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HoustonMSArts.

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