The halls were decked Thursday night when Nashville in Harmony (NiH) took over the Historic Ryman Auditorium for a star studded, magical holiday debut (photo gallery above). This year's concert, Sugar Plums, led by director Don Schlosser, was a near two-hour celebration featuring nearly 20 songs and marked NiH's first time on the Ryman stage.
Mayor Karl Dean reflected NiH's mission to use music to build community and create social change when during introductory remarks the newly voted O&AN Gay Faves Politician said that a city needs three things: technology, talent and tolerance.
Celebrating their tenth anniversary, aptly named TENsational, Nashville in Harmony celebrated with classics such as "Deck the Halls" and "Bugler's Holiday" mingled with new favorites such as "Believe" from The Polar Express.
Nashville in Harmony continued to gift audiences members with string of sensational performances including “Let It Snow,” and “Little Drummer Boy” with husband and wife cellist/guitar duo, Julie Adams and Richard Smith, as well as naughty and nice performances from ABC Nashville's J. Karen Thomas. Thomas effortlessly delivered a heavenly medley of Karen Carpenter's Christmas songs but also delivered a steamy "Santa Baby."
Thomas was not the only Nashville star in attendance. Chris Carmack, better known as closeted gay cowboy Will Lexington, spoke to the audience about his character's struggles and how hard it must be to live life in the closet.
Overall, the night was a triumph for Nashville in Harmony. Their near two-hour Ryman debut was a celebration of this city's diversity. Merging some of the greatest LGBT and allied voices in the Nashville community with the stars of Nashville on the small screen was a perfectly stuffed stocking.
Thankfully on a brisk night, the feelings of warmth and community created by NiH and Sugar Plums continued past the doors of The Ryman to the doors of my car as I found a message scribbled on spiral bound paper: "Enjoy Hell." I'll assume you didn't like my “Say I Do to Equal Marriage Rights” bumper sticker, but just know that Jesus loves me and you. I wasn’t hurt. I was just reminded of why I work as hard as I do for equality. I will continue that work to show everyone that we serve a God big enough to love us unconditionally.
To whomever left the note: I am working on a story for the January issue I hope you'll read about a major church that just passed a statement welcoming everyone, including sexual orientation and gender identity. I doubt you will, but I hope you'll read it. Go in peace.
Nashville in Harmony will take the Ryman stage again to perform their spring concert Choral Blast! on March 4, 2014. Ticket information will be available soon here.