When you walk into the Cloverdale Baptist Church on Dec. 1, music will be everywhere.
From the sounds of a piano in the foyer, to a gospel trio on stage, it will be hard to miss the sounds of Christmas. And that’s exactly what “Sounds of Christmas” concert organizer Jim Thirsk is hoping for.
“There’s music all the time,” the 90-year-old Langley musician said. “As soon as you walk in those doors there’s music, right up to 9 o’clock.”
The concert is not the first performance Thirsk has organized at the Cloverdale Baptist Church. His first was a gospel concert back in 2016, followed by the first Christmas concert, which saw about 800 people attend.
After a year’s hiatus, Thirsk is back organizing another Cloverdale Christmas event.
“I like the other concerts that we do, which are more of a gospel concert,” Thirsk said. “The Christmas [concert] is kind of special, worldwide when you think about it.”
This year, the concert will feature performances by the Pilkey Sisters, a White Rock-based trio well-versed in southern gospel who were nominated as last year’s New Artist of the Year for the Gospel Music Association Covenant Awards; Keith Bennett, a North Vancouver artist who is best known for his mastery of the harmonica; Mark Donnelly, Vancouver’s “Mr. O’ Canada” who has been opening NHL games with Canada’s national anthem for nearly 20 years; and the Class Brass Gospel Band, an eight-part band that brings the sounds of Dixie, Louisiana jazz and Tijuana brass together.
Also performing this year is Lillie Knauls, an African-American gospel singer.
“She’ll put you relaxed right off the bat. That’s her,” Thirsk said about the 80-year-old singer.
Known as the “hat lady,” because she rarely performs without some kind of headgear, Knauls has been performing since the 1960s. She was inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame as part of the Edwin Hawkins Singers in 2000. Although she has performed in one of Thirsk’s local gospel concerts before, a broken ankle prevented her from taking part in the Christmas concert.
This time though, Thirsk is determined to have her perform.
“Everyone loves her,” he said. “She’s just so sweet, so loving. She just projects.”
Although each of the five performers will be putting a focus on Christmas music during the concert, there will also be traditional gospel songs. That mirrors the emphasis of the concert, Cloverdale Baptist Church pastor Les Harder said.
“Obviously for us, Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ,” Harder said. “We want people to hear that story, to recognize it, to be able to come and celebrate it.
“The music [at the concert] is not about Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman,” he added. “I mean, Christmas trees and stuff is part of what our culture absorbs, but we really want it to be a focus on the birth of Christ and the reason we celebrate Christmas.”
The “Sounds of Christmas” will be held at the Cloverdale Baptist Church (18685 64 Ave) on Saturday, Dec. 1. The doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the concert starts at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets $20 in advance, and are available at Tom Lee Music in Langley (19638 Fraser Hwy), Pilgrim Book and Bible in Vancouver (2714 Kingsway) and House of James in Abbotsford (2743 Emerson St), as well as online at eventbrite.ca/e/sounds-of-christmas-tickets-50565171790.
A select number of tickets will also be available for Cloverdale Baptist Church members before and after the church services leading up to the concert.
Remaining tickets will be available at the door on Dec. 1 for $25.