A Merry Music City Christmas consisted of two main venues?the outdoor fun experience and the indoor Christmas concert. For this worship portion of the special Christmas edition of Sunday| Magazine, we?ll focus on the indoor Christmas concert.
Conceptually, they wanted to provide concert attendees with a taste of Cross Point Church and the hope of Christ. They were trying to keep each night and each show a surprise, because they knew some people might decide to come back twice. But at the same time, they knew that doing six completely different 45-minute shows in only four days would be too much to handle. So they chose to make about 30 minutes of the program the same. They made modular elements that they could re-arrange however they wanted in order to accommodate the 15 minutes of difference each show.[quote]They wanted to provide concert attendees with a taste of Cross Point Church and the hope of Christ.[/quote]
What was that 15 minutes, you ask? Each night, they asked different artists to join them for a special performance.
First Performance on Wednesday Night:
Jo Dee Messina ? Country music artist
Lord, I Need You
Mary, Did You Know
O Holy Night
Denver and the Mile High Orchestra ? Horn-driven band
Little Drummer Boy
Second Performance on Thursday Night:
Matt Wertz ? Singer-songwriter
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Denver and the Mile High Orchestra ? accompanying Matt Wertz
Third Performance on Friday Afternoon
Natalie Grant ? CCM singer-songwriter
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Joy to the World
Fourth Performance on Friday Night:
Natalie Grant ? Performing the same list as Friday afternoon
Fifth Performance on Saturday Afternoon:
Brandon Heath ? Contemporary Christian musician
The Christmas Song
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Just a Girl
The Night Before Christmas
Sixth Performance on Saturday Night:
Plumb (Tiffany Lee) ??CCM singer-songwriter
Mary Sweet Mary
Here With Us
Danny Gokey ? Adult pop/contemporary Christian artist
Mary Did You Know
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
The house band from Cross Point Church joined these artists to provide the accompaniment. Then they mixed these special guest performances with their own set of songs?performed entirely by the Cross Point team.
Their set included:
- All I Want for Christmas
- Silver Bells
- Jingle Bells
- Mary Did You Know (Except when performed by guest.)
- Let it Be/O Holy Night
- An 8-song Medley of Christmas Standards
Working with Outside Talent
Their goal for the big ?wow? effect of the show was the guest artists. The point of the show was to be an easy invite for people?their congregation knew it would something amazing they could invite their friends, family, and neighbors to. But working with outside talent presented its own set of challenges.[quote]The point of the show was to be an easy invite for people.[/quote]
All but two of the artists didn?t even attended the church, and Cross Point didn?t have the budget to pay the usual honorariums for these acts. So it was a big ask to get them involved. Most of the artists were friends of friends who attend Cross Point. But the artists decided they would love to be part of this event that was giving a gift back to their home city of Nashville.
Of course that wasn?t the end of the challenge. Most of these artists? music managers had a tough time agreeing to all of the terms. They wanted to bring in the bands and musicians that usually accompanied the artists, but that just wasn?t in the budget. So the team had to continually assure the management companies that they had some great musicians ready to work with the artists when they came in. This was especially scary for the artists? representatives, because each artist was planning on showing up only an hour or two before the concert for their first run-through/rehearsal. Since most of the artists? time was volunteered, they didn?t feel right asking them to come in a day earlier to run through the music.
So the Cross Point team worked feverishly to arrange tracks and programming for each artist. They worked with management companies and music producers to get tracks sent over and figure out exactly what the artist would be looking to do when they arrived. They listened to record tracks to make sure they knew exactly what was expected of them. In one case, they even charted a whole song from a YouTube video of a fan?s cell phone recording of the artist?s concert. They wanted to make sure they had everything down perfectly, so they could easily adjust to any changes the artist had on the night of the concert. This meant they had their own music down already, so they could focus entirely on the outside talent?s music when they showed up to the venue. In all, they had to write and learn 30 charts for all six concerts.[quote]They even charted a whole song from a YouTube video of a fan?s cell phone recording.[/quote]
Then the Cross Point team did other things to ensure the experience was as positive as possible for the artists. For instance, one of the team found out that Brandon Heath absolutely loved Bananas Foster. So they made sure there was some in the green room when he arrived. They looked for any and every way to make the backstage and onstage experience excellent.
All this preparation worked, for Brandon at least. He had planned on doing all but one of his songs acoustically, with no accompaniment. But after he heard the one song with the full band included, he asked to do the rest of the songs accompanied as well.[quote]This was one of the most challenging and rewarding things they had done all year.[/quote]
Cross Point?s worship team is made up of many fantastic musicians who are used to touring with huge artists. And they said this was one of the most challenging and rewarding things they had done all year. It stretched the whole team, but they pulled off six amazing concerts that perfectly capped all the fun that happened outside with the snow sledding and ice skating.