To begin, you’ll be bringing your holiday tour, “A Christmas Celebration,” to New York tonight for a benefit concert, with all proceeds going to World Vision to help in the relief efforts along the Northeast coast after the devastation Hurricane Sandy left in its wake. Unfortunately, we’re all too familiar here in Alabama with disastrous weather events and the benefits that sometimes come afterwards. How did this benefit concert come to be?
I truly believe that we just show up when we see a need before us. When Jason and I knew we had this concert already scheduled in NYC, it was a very easy and necessary decision to make it a benefit for the hurricane relief. Our friends at World Vision have been on the front lines since day one, with the big warehouse they have in the Bronx.
Jumping around a bit, your daughter Aly is studying opera, and I understand that you had college professors try and steer you towards that genre.
What’s it like to hear her sing? Ever get the urge to join her on stage?
I love watching all of my children perform. Aly has always been “that kid” that just couldn’t quit humming or singing in class. It’s fun to see her passion become a profession.
You said in a recent interview that you’re still a bit surprised that people pay to hear you sing. Some other rather successful entertainers have said similar things in the past. After nearly four decades singing professionally, five Grammys, 40 GMA Dove awards, four Billboard Music Awards and a Gospel Music Hall of Fame induction, where in you does that surprise come from?
I suppose that in spite of all the awards – and I’m truly honored by them – I’m still that little girl singing and dancing in my bedroom. I’ve always loved music, because for so many years it has been my “voice” (being a shy kid). So, that little girl is astounded when people want to see what she’s up to.
You acted in high school and college, and this year you got a chance to play Dolly Levi in a concert version of “Hello, Dolly!” with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. How was that experience, and can we expect to see you on Broadway again?
I’ve always wanted to do something on Broadway, but honestly, I’ve never wanted to take the time to base in New York for that long. So my friends at the ISO help me realize some of my “Broadway” dreams without ever having to travel there. With my kids grown now, I could be open to doing Broadway if it were the right role (ahem – Dolly Levi – just sayin’).
It wouldn’t be proper to end this Q&A without a little about Christmas. So, how and where will you celebrate the holiday? Any family traditions?
This year we will be partly in Oklahoma (where we live). My husband is on staff at our home church there – Crossings Community Church – and we will have several Christmas candlelight services. Then we hope to all be together in Indiana. With a family of eight kids, it becomes more and more challenging (and more and more of a blessing) to get us all together.
Every year since the children were little, my dad has had a “scavenger hunt-crossword puzzle-sudoku-anagram-riddle” game he does for the kids. It ends up taking hours and we have THE BEST TIME!
What: “Christmas Celebration” concert with Jason Crabb.
When: 7 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church of Oxford’s worship center, 95 E. Oak St., Oxford.
Tickets: $25, available at Quintard Mall guest services.