Darke County Center for the Arts will present a 2020 holiday special tonight, but as in all things 2020, it will be different from past presentations. However, one inviting factor remains—”I’ll Be Home For Christmas” will lift spirits with true holiday cheer provided by gifted artists enjoying the opportunity to do what they were born to do before an appreciative audience. Although they won’t be in the same space as their audience, Shaun Johnson and his Emmy Award-winning vocal group Tonic Sol-Fa plus his swinging octet, the Big Band Experience will share their virtual concert tour with DCCA supporters in a “pay what you will” event that you can watch (and sing along with) from your living room couch.
Tonic Sol-Fa is a ground-breaking a cappella ensemble that began in the a cappella capital of the world, Minnesota, over twenty years ago, and has gone on to release over 15 best-selling albums and earn multiple Grammy awards; additionally Tonic Sol-Fa has produced three PBS specials which have aired over 1800 times throughout the U.S. and Canada. They were honored to be inducted into the Midwest Music Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame alongside another acclaimed Minnesotan, Prince. In addition to lead singer Shaun Johnson, the group includes tenor and vocal percussionist Greg Bannwarth, baritone and vocal percussionist Theo Brown, and bass Jared Dove. The group has always included philanthropy as part of its mission, and will share a portion of proceeds from “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with charitable partner, the Children’s Music Fund, which provides musical therapy programs for children with life-altering illness.
Shaun Johnson and the Big Band Experience were originally scheduled to perform at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall during DCCA’s planned 2020 “Vision” season; that show was, of course, canceled due to the pandemic. The ensemble did, however, contribute to DCCA’s Arts In Education presentations, providing a dynamic virtual performance for junior high students in all local schools; if you are among those who were highly entertained by that tuneful and informative session, you already know that you don’t want to miss tonight’s show. The band seamlessly blends styles from many eras to create a timeless yet contemporary sound appealing to fans of Sinatra, Rihanna, and Stray Cats; the versatile musicians who have played with artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and New Kids on the Block are centered on innovation to ensure that while each performance is an experience, no two experiences will be exactly the same.
To get your tickets before the show streams at 7:30 tonight, go to DCCA’s Website www.DarkeCountyArts.org, click on TICKETS, and follow the instructions (which, I can attest, are not difficult to follow); tickets are also available at www.TonicSolFa.com. The show will be available on-demand for 48 hours following that initial airing. In spite of performance venues being dark, you’ll be supporting hard-working artists who are doing all they can to continue sharing their sparkling gifts, as well as helping bring cheer to sick kids, and contributing to your local arts presenter during this very different year; and you will undoubtedly bring the holiday spirit into your home and soul.