The fourth edition of Christmas Soul

Finally we leave. With tomorrow’s concert of the lineup Goodwind & The Spiritual Gang the fourth edition of Christmas Soul begins, the gospel music festival that enriches the Christmas festivities in Ravenna. Four concerts dedicated to the most spiritual black music, which from 28 December to 1 January between Piazza del Popolo and Teatro Alighieri will see groups arriving from Italy, France and the United States as protagonists to explore the deepest aspects of the Christian musical tradition of African American people. Always with shows capable of involving all kinds of audiences in a transversal way, but avoiding the easy stereotypes that often accompany gospel events in Italy. For the afternoon concerts in Piazza del Popolo, an approach to the genre with a European sensibility was thus privileged, while for the end and beginning of the year concerts we relied on two US choirs characterized by stylistic freshness and a wide mix of various musical influences.

The review is organized by Municipality of Ravenna, Soul Beaches and Ravenna Foundation Events and only proposes free concertshosted in Piazza del Popolo at 6 and 11 pm, in the case of the concert on 31 December to welcome the new year in music, to which is added the New Year’s event at the Teatro Alighieri, at 11.30, which is free but limited number.

Opening Christmas Soul, Wednesday 28 December at 18 in Piazza del Popolo, is the Italian formation Goodwind & The Spiritual Gangwhich offers a musical exploration of spiritual songs, traditional gospel and the best known Christmas songs, followed on Thursday 29, again at 6pm, by the French Gospel Soul Celebration, a quintet led by Joel Rhinö that ranges between tradition and modernity with a multifaceted vocal style that allows a journey into the heart of gospel, with influences that also come from Africa and the Caribbean. Salute to 2022 on the night of 31 December (starting at 11pm) is instead entrusted to Brent Jones & T. P. Mobb, a group that arrives on tour in Italy for the first time after having climbed the charts thanks to the successes composed by master Brent Jones, producer, musician and choir master who boasts numerous Grammy and Stellar Awards nominations. The first concert of 2023 at the Alighieri Theater (at 11.30) is instead entrusted to Nate Martin & SIGN (meaning Singing In God’s Name), founded in 2016 in the cradle of gospel music, the city of Chicago, and for the first time on tour in Europe. A young formation, less devoted to the canons of romantic gospel and more inclined to a modern spirituality that manifests itself with groove-rich rhythms and ballads.

Full program

Wednesday 28 December, Piazza del Popolo at 18:00

A profound musical journey between Spiritual, Gospel & Christmas song. The explosive quintet captivates the audience with their great interpretation and intense vocal blend. It is led by Chiara Luppi, Stevie Biondi and Luca Bright (three of the best known voices in the Italian pop-soul panorama) and orchestrated by the arrangements of Maestro Michele Bonivento on Hammond organ and by Carmine Bloisi on drums. Clare Luppi is a “Cant-a-ttrice” of Italian-Armenian origin. The voice is sweet and powerful, he studied singing, piano, theater performing with artists such as Larry Ray (The Temptations), Ronny Jones, James Thompson, Vincent Williams, Mario Biondi, Alberto Fortis, Alan Sorrenti, Umberto Tozzi, Alexia, Dr. Feelx (Chiambretti Night). She is the voice of television theme songs and many national commercials. Stevie Biondi he grew up in a family of musicians: his grandmother sang in the theater and for EIAR (the future RAI), his father Giuseppe, aka Stefano Biondi, was a well-known songwriter in Sicily and his brother Mario Biondi is a singer, author, arranger and internationally renowned producer with whom he collaborates on a regular basis. Luke Bright, born in Recife (Brazil) is a vocalist with a vocal timbre rich in nuances that bring to mind the great soul tradition. Supported by a deep technical knowledge and an explosive temperament, Bright is making himself appreciated in the European music scene. Michael Boniventoproducer and keyboardist, has over 70 albums to his credit and twenty years of live experience with prestigious artists such as Dana Gillespie, Jan Harrington, Cheryl Porter, Joyce Yuille, Ronnie Jones, Vincent Williams, Carl Verheyen, Ian Siegal, Louisiana Red, Tino Gonzales . Carmine Bloisi he is among the most solid Italian drummers, he has played with the great masters of the Blues such as Robben Ford, John Mayall, Peter Green, Brian Auger, Rudy Rotta and many others.

Thursday 29 December, Piazza del Popolo at 18:00

A journey into the heart of the gospel along the banks of the Mississippi, through the Caribbean and Africa. Driven by Joel Rhino, great lover of vocal polyphony, this gospel quintet with four singers and a pianist is the alliance of experience and youth, tradition and modernity served in a dazzling vocal cocktail. The group is led by Joel Rhinö, an artist renowned both as a conductor and as a singer and producer of vocal and musical arrangements. The repertoire includes great songs in traditional styles and contemporary compositions, along with gospel classics in original arrangements. The training is impeccable: the contralto voice of Magdala Desruisseaux, with a clear and powerful timbre that dazzles the audience, the skilled soloist Jessica Ressot, a young soprano with great experience in Parisian gospel choirs, and Marie Nicole Leborgne, an expert contralto who seduces the audience with his charisma and vocal uniqueness.

Saturday 31 December, Piazza del Popolo at 11.00pm

Producer, musician and choirmaster who boasts numerous Grammy® and Stellar Awards nominations, singer and songwriter of extraordinary talent. With his urban group Brent Jones & TP Mobb he laid the foundations for Kirk Franklin and contemporary gospel. JDI artist Brent Jones’ new album “Nothing Else Matters” is the highly anticipated follow-up to “Open Your Mouth and Say Something,” which topped the Billboard charts for over 54 weeks, garnering widespread critical acclaim and numerous award nominations, including the 2019 Dove Award and the 2019 Stellar Award. A California native, Jones has had the opportunity to produce several projects, conduct many talented choirs, and assist hundreds of audiences, while carving his own space in the music industry. gospel music USA with his group, the TP (Total Praise) Mobb. Known for their hip-hop influences and electrifying beats, TP Mobb have been able to inspire not only young people looking for a unique Christian expression, but also people of all ages who love good music with an exciting and uplifting message. For years, Jones and the TP Mobb toured the world and recorded popular hits like “Midnight,” featuring Coko Clemons of R&B singing trio SWV, and “Goodtime,” the head-spinning groove featured on WOW Gospel 2000. With appearances on major programs network TV such as The Tonight Show and having toured extensively both in the US and internationally, including various European and African countries, Jones has developed a multicultural following worldwide. His experiences led him to become Music Director at the multicultural Valencia Christian Center, in Valencia, California, and later became the Artistic Director of the KJLH Radio Free Choir in the fall of 2014. In 2020 Brent Jones received the certification Gold & Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America® (RIAA) – certifying over one million album sales of “Awaken My Love,” his acclaimed collaboration with superstar Childish Gambino. Also in 2020 he is featured in the DreamWorks blockbuster film “Trolls World Tour” (with Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick and Mary J. Blige). For the first time on tour in Italy with his TP Mobb, he presents himself in a 10-piece formation with a rhythm section.

Sunday 1 January, Alighieri Theater at 11:30

Robust tones, reinvigorated sound, more markedly Gospel Soul rhythms made in the USA are the elements that make up the entire personality of Nate Martin & SIGN (Singing In God’s Name) founded in 2016 in the cradle of gospel music, Chicago. Nate Martin & SIGN quickly made themselves loved in the city of Chicago for their youth, energy and passion for God. Martin has few equals in excursions and vocal timbres, and this is his new sonic guise, less devoted to canons of romantic gospel and more inclined to modern spirituality, which manifests itself with groove-rich rhythms and ballads, raising the emotional level with emphasis and with the intention of transporting the audience in each song. Tradition and modernity go hand in hand as in the best episodes and in this dimension, between the rhythmic and vocal group contributions, one of the most full-bodied gospel live sets that can be witnessed takes place. In 2020 Nate Martin & SIGN received an Eddy Award for “Album of the Year” and in 2021 a Gospel Music Choice Award for “Band of the Year”. The group traveled throughout the United States spreading the gospel through song. For the first time in Europe, this line-up presents a set of religious music between traditional black spirituals and modern sonorities.

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