Fans of the popular BET series Sunday Best, a gospel music competition much like American Idol, will surely recognize the name Le'Andria Johnson, who won Sunday Best's season three. Even if you don't recognize the name, you won't want to miss her when she heads the holiday concert at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Universal Truth Center for Better Living, 21310 NW 37th Ave in Miami Gardens.
Since winning Sunday Best, Johnson went on to win a Grammy and is now one of the hottest names in gospel and contemporary gospel music. Her debut CD, The Awakening of Le'Andria Johnson, entered at No. 1 on multiple music charts, including the Billboard Top Gospel Albums and the Top Christian/Gospel Album charts. At the concert, Johnson will showcase the music from her new holiday album, The Experience.
Appearing with Johnson at the concert, an annual holiday celebration at Universal Truth Center, will be local performers Claudette Cannon; 11-year-old singer/songwriter Elizabeth Kathryn; classically trained vocalist Victor Clairmont; and performing groups from the center to include the Voices of Truth, Children of Truth and the UTC Ensemble.
Produced by KVP Productions and Music World Gospel, the concert is directed by Christine Everett Ellis, director of the UTC Creative Expressions Ministry.
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and may be purchased at UTC's bookstore or on the website, www.utruthcenter.org. For more information call 305-624-4991.
Orchestra Miami will present the timeless holiday classic, Amahl and the Night Visitors, an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, in three performances. The first will be at 8 p.m. Saturday at Miami Shores Presbyterian Church, 609 NE 96th St. There will be two performances at Teatro Trail, 3715 SW Eighth St. in Coral Gables — at
2 p.m. on Jan. 6 (in English with Spanish subtitles), and at 4 p.m. (in Spanish with English subtitles).
The opera tells a simple touching story, which focuses on a young crippled boy, Amahl, and his mother, who welcome some very unexpected visitors into their home — the Three Kings — who are on their way to bring gifts to the Christ Child.
The production stars:
• Alexander Segarra, 13, as Amahl, a seventh grader at Ada Merrit K-8 Center, who has studied voice and piano at the Miami Conservatory since he was 9; Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste, a fast emerging leading voice in the opera world who recently completed a two-year contract as a Principal Resident Artist with Opera San Jose, and Puerto Rican soprano Marinel Cruz who has won many prizes and awards, including the Metropolitan Opera Encouragement Award. She and Jean-Baptiste will play the role of the mother.
• Justin John Moniz, tenor, who has been lauded by the South Florida Classical Review as a "superb high tenor"; tenors Kunya Rowley, who has performed oratorio and opera through the South Florida area and Miguel Llerena, a member of the Florida Grand Opera Chorus for the past 10 years. The three will play the role of Kasper.
• Baritone Graham Fandrei who was educated at the New England Conservatory as well as the Julliard School, has performed in venues throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He and Cuba-born Nelson Martinez, who began his operatic carer at age 19, will play the role of Melchior;
• Bass-baritone Kevin Short, who has thrilled audiences around the world and has a wide range of repertoire, having performed in literally every important opera theater, music festival and symphony orchestra in the world, and Miami resident Gibson Dorcé, who has performed with the Lyric Opera of Miami, Coral Gables Symphony and Opera, will play the role of Balthazar.
• Ardean Landhuis as the page.
The performances are conducted by Orchestra Miami's founder and Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi, who is making her mark among the ranks of rising young American conductors and directed by award-winning director Michael Yawney. The production is choreographed by Octavio Campos and Angela Esposito designed the costumes.
Tickets for the Dec. 22, performance range from $20-$30 each, with half-priced tickets for children under 18. For more information and tickets for this performance call 800-838-3006.
For the Jan. 6, performance, tickets range from $25-$40 each and are available at www.teatrotrail.com or by calling 305-443-1009.
You are invited to the Christmas Eve candlelight worship services at Grace Lutheran Church at 7 and 11 p.m. Holy Communion will be at both services. The church is at 254 Curtiss Pkwy. in Miami Springs.
The Archdiocese of Miami will host a multi-lingual Christmas Concert, "Lessons and Carols," at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve at St. Mary Cathedral, 7525 NW Second Ave. The order of service will feature the St. Mary Choirs and the concert will be followed by Christmas Eve Mass at 10 p.m.
It's free and open to the public.
Wayside Baptist Church will have a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 24, and you are invited. The service will feature great music, including traditional Christmas carols to be sung by candlelight, and the message of the Christmas story from the Bible.
The church is at 7701 SW 98th St.
Christ the King
Christ the King Lutheran Church at 11295 SW 57th Ave. in Pinecrest, will present its third annual "Wonder of Christmas Light Display and Events," from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Friday through Sunday on the church's campus along Snapper Creek Canal.
There will be e free, special event each night, including a community carol sing at 7 p.m. Friday, followed by a musical performance on the patio. The "Peaceable Kingdom Petting Zoo" will be open from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and at 7 p.m. Sunday, there will be a Las Posadas procession and fiesta, with a mariachi band and piñatas for the children.
The display of lights will be lit for Christmas Eve services at the 7 p.m. family service, and at 9 and 11 p.m. For more information view the website at www.ctkmiami.org or call Pastor Kathryn Carroll in the church office at 305-665-5063.
Meanwhile, the actors, singers and dancers from Christ the King will entertain families at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Rd.
Called "The Joy Factor", the event is a talent competition and will feature the Grinch and his crew against Lady Gabriela and her band of angels.
Featured artists will include stage, scree and opera star Eddie Valdes; local crooner Al Lopez; songwriters Patricia Chavino and John Molin, and dancers Yazmin and Yaness Quiles performing "The Illumination."
After the show, the Grinch will interact with the children. General admission to the gardens is $5 and includes the wonder of the holiday lights shining throughout the park and The Joy Factor show in the Banyan Bowl at 7 p.m.
Because to some people in the community "Merry Christmas'' is a painful greeting, the Miami Lakes Episcopal Church will offer a "Blue Christmas" worship at 7 p.m. on Dec. 21.
The service is open to those who are grieving, or anticipating the loss of a loved one; suffering from serious illness or addiction or dealing with any family crisis, and may find the inescapable Christmas carols, bright decorations and expectation of rejoicing a cruel contrast to their feelings of sadness and isolation.
The Miami Lakes Episcopal Church has joined with St. Margaret's and San Francisco de Asis, 15650 Miami Lakeway North, and is inviting members of the community to a service of quiet hymns for Advent and Christmas and the lighting of candles with prayers for the losses and anxieties that some worshipers are bearing. The service will also include a celebration of the Mass, with intention for healing and comfort for all present and their families.
"The Blue Christmas Service is a gift to the community," said the Rev. Tim Rogers, Miami Lakes Episcopal's priest-in-charge. "It is intended to reassure those who are grieving that the birth of Jesus means god is present with us in all our human pain and shares our suffering."
For more information about the service, call the church office at 305-558-3961 or go to www.episcopalmiamilakes.com.
Gables Congregational UCC
For your worship convenience, there will be three Christmas Eve services at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, 3010 De Soto Blvd.
At 5:30 p.m. there will be a child-friendly service exploring the joy of Christmas through the eyes and voices of children, when the Cherub and Agape Choirs present "Christmas Joy." Pam Andrew will tell of the joy that came to earth when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The story will come to life following the service when the courtyard is transformed into a live nativity.
Traditional candlelight services will be at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. and will feature the choirs of the church, accompanied by organ, brass and words of the season. Following the 10:30 p.m. service, a trumpet fanfare will herald the midnight hour. All Christmas Eve services will include a welcome and Christmas cookies for everyone.
Call the church at 305-448-7421 for more information or go to www.CoralGablesCongregational.org.
Church of God Tabernacle
Bishop Walter H. Richardson and the Bible class teachers at The Church of God Tabernacle, 1351 NW 67th St. in Liberty City, invites the community to celebrate Christmas with them at special services to be at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m..Sunday at the church.
At 10 a.m., the Bible classes will present their annual pageant, at which time, the children will act out the story of the birth of Jesus in words and songs. Then, at 7 p.m., The Church of God Mass Choir, will present a concert and drama, also depicting the birth of Christ and the meaning of Christmas.
It's free and everyone is invited.