A HOLIDAY CONCERT RETURNS TO WARM HEARTS AND LIFT SPIRITS
Musical Direction by Dr. Yvonne Cobbs
Stage Direction by Margo Hall
December 14 - 17, 2023
Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
NEW! WATCH THIS PREVIEW
Gather the family for the return of Soulful Christmas! While conjuring a winter wonderland filled with upbeat music, joyful lyrics, and high-energy performances, some of your favorite Bay Area powerhouse singers will blow the roof off the house. Led by the incomparable Dr. Yvonne Cobbs, singers Mary Williams, Rhonda Jones, Robin Hodge Williams, Kathi Mills, Vanessa Murphy, Dion Williams, JaCoree Prothro and Michael Nelson invite you to this one-of-a-kind concert which promises to uplift your holiday spirit.
Photos Courtesy of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre
"Soulful Christmas gives audiences a renewed sense of community and connection. The music and performances are uplifting, energizing and inspiring. At its core, "Soulful Christmas" celebrates the holiday spirit and all the joy and love it brings.”
- Dr. Yvonne C. Cobbs
Musical Director: Dr. Yvonne Cobbs
Stage Director: Margo Hall
Band Director: Andrew Barnes Jamieson
Singers: Mary Williams, Rhonda Jones, Robin Hodge Williams, Kathi Mills, Vanessa Murphy, Dion Williams, JaCoree Prothro and Michael Nelson
Band: Tina Bryant; Joseph “Jojo” Johnson
DR. YVONNE C. COBBS
YVONNE C. COBBS is an incredibly talented artist who has made a name for herself in the music industry. She has had the opportunity to share the stage with some of the biggest names in the business, including the Grateful Dead. Not only has Yvonne worked with renowned musicians such as Pattie Labelle and Kirk Franklin, but she has also been a top 20 contestant on BET Sunday Best, showcasing her talent to a national audience.
Yvonne's love for music doesn't stop there. She has also taken on the role of portraying Ella Fitzgerald and performing jazz music from the American Song Books. Yvonne's talents have been showcased in several live stage plays and musicals at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, including Black Nativity, Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, and The Amen Corner. Her work in these productions has been impressive, and she has served as the music director and featured artist for "Soulful Christmas: A Gospel Holiday Concert." In 2023/2024, Yvonne will return to the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre as music director, and audiences eagerly anticipate her next performance.
In addition to her impressive accomplishments, Yvonne is an active member of the Harmony Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland, CA. She is also involved in the Northern California Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, represented by Steven Roberts. Yvonne's dedication to her community and craft is truly inspiring, and her contributions to the music industry have left a lasting impact.
MARGO HALL award-winning actor/director/playwright/educator and the Artistic Director of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. Recently awarded the 2021 Kenneth Rainin Fellowship in Theater and listed as one of the YBCA 100 honorees.
She most recently directed In The Evening By The Moonlight, a world premiere that she co-created with writer Traci Tolmaire for Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. Other directing credits include Hieroglyph (filmed live on stage and streamed virtually) a co-production with LHT and SF Playhouse., How I Learned What I Learned, Thurgood and Rejoice! for LHT. Barbecue, Red Velvet, and The Story, for SF Playhouse. Sonny's Blues, a story by James Baldwin, for Word for Word, which toured France. She co-directed Bulrusher with Ellen Chang, and Once on This Island, Hamlet, Blood in the Brain, SPUNK, The Trojan Women, It Falls, Ragtime, and A Streetcar Named Desire for Chabot College. Polaroid Stories and In the Red and Brown Water for UC Berkeley.
Acting credits include Black Odyssey*, Fences, Twelfth Night, A Raisin in the Sun, A Winter's Tale, American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose and SPUNK for the California Shakespeare Theater, JAZZ, Skeleton Crew, Gem of the Ocean, Fences and Seven Guitars for Marin Theater Company. Ah! Wilderness, Once in a Lifetime, and Marcus or the Secret of Sweet* at The American Conservatory Theater. Exit Strategy, and Trouble in Mind*, at the Aurora Theater, Marcus Gardley's A World in a Woman's Hands for Shotgun Players. Barbecue* (also directed), and MF with a Hat at SF Playhouse.
Some of her acting credits for Campo Santo** include Josephine’s Feast, Nobody Move, Mirrors in Every Corner, Fe in the Desert, Stairway to Heaven, Hamlet: Blood in the Brain, 17 Reasons (Why) and Polaroid Stories, floating weeds, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, Bethlehem and Hurricane. She has toured France with Word for Word as Missie May in The Gilded Six-Bits by Zora Neale Hurston and Oceola in The Blues I'm Playing by Langston Hughes.
Margo's recent film credits include Leslie White in All Day and a Night, Nancy in Blindspotting, and the voice of Melba in Pixar's SOUL. TV credits include Nancy in Blindspotting on STARZ, Helen in Chances, Marsha Watkins, and Blind Witness on Nash Bridges.
Margo completed her first writing project in April 2005 with the World Premiere of The People's Temple at Berkeley Repertory Theater, which won the Glickman Award for best new play in the Bay Area for 2005. She was part of a collaborative team of four writers who used interviews of survivors and archival material to form a play exploring the People's Temple movement and the tragic ending at Jonestown. The play went on from Berkeley Rep. to The Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Margo is also part of the acting ensemble. In 2013 she premiered her semi-biographical piece, Be Bop Baby, a Musical Memoir, at Z Space, featuring the 15-piece Marcus Shelby Orchestra, which chronicled her life growing up in Detroit with her jazz musician stepfather, who was with Motown. Lyrics and book by Margo Hall, with original music composed by Marcus Shelby.
**She is a founding member of Campo Santo, a theater company in San Francisco *Theater Bay Area best actress recipient
ANDREW BARNES JAMIESON
Andrew Barnes Jamieson is a pianist, composer, and arranger, based in Oakland, California. While earning his Bachelor’s of Music in composition at Northwestern University’s School of Music, his most formative experience came during his time off campus as a pianist and organist with Black congregations in the Chicago area, where he developed a close relationship with African American worship and sacred music traditions. Since graduating from Mills College with an MA in composition, he has been active in faith communities and experimental music ensembles in the Bay Area, aiming to deconstruct and challenge white supremacy and injustice in musical and faith systems, and celebrate, and remain accountable to, the Black gospel music tradition, and the communities and musicians it represents, especially as a white person confronting the ways he benefits from systems that misappropriate, marginalize, or exploit the tradition. Andrew wrote and produced Heaven Down Here, his 2014 chamber opera about Jonestown and Peoples Temple, and Jim Jones’s abuse of a majority Black community as a white man. Andrew also founded the avant-gospel Trouble Ensemble, performed over 800 of #1000improvisations (1000 planned daily improvisational keyboard livestreams since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic), and collaborates on duo performances with baritone, activist, and visionary Darnell Ishmel. He serves as music director for community worship at Pacific School of Religion, and as a keyboardist, in collaboration with Charlene Moore and Rusty Watson, at Bishop Yvette Flunder’s City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland.
HodgeWilliams has performed in several plays Mama I want to Sing, Graffiti Blues , Somebody ought to Tell God Thank you , Black Nativity, Soulful Christmas, Sing out Sweet Gospel to name a few. HodgeWilliams has performed with Daryl Coley, Tramaine Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins . Recorded with Lawrence Matthews and also recorded 5 projects www.Robin HodgeWilliams.com
Rhonda Jones, raised in the San Francisco Bay area, was born and reared in a Christian home. Rhonda has been singing since the age of three years old. Rhonda is the Director of music at the Peniel Baptist Church, and is a member of the Olivet, Baptist Church of Oakland, where she is on the praise team, and a member of the choir. A devoted mother, Rhonda is a known Psalmist, and choir Director in the bay area who loves to sing, and laugh.
Taylor first fell in love with theater her junior year of high school while attending Holy Names High School (Oakland, CA). She then moved on to complete her 4 years of study and obtained her BFA in Theater with a focus on Stage Management. After graduating, she spent some time working in the Behavior and Mental Health field until 2022 when she made the choice to become a full time independent artist. Since then she has held the titles, Director of Production and Facilities, Stage Manager , and Technical Director. Taylor is overjoyed to continue her artistic journey with L.H. Theaters.
Vanessa Murphy from Oakland California began singing at the age of 4. She accepted the Lord as her Savior at the age of five, and has been actively in the church singing since that time period. She began singing and leading songs with her mother at the Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church where her father was pastor. Rev LH Murphy.
LADY KATHI RACHEA MILLS
Lady Kathi Rachea Mills, born and raised in Gary, IN, a preacher’s kid, current California resident. A graduate and Castleleer of Castlemont High School, and led I Need To Pray
Kathi has her own business, Lady Kathi’s Creations include: Two R&B singles Love Dove Kind of Love & Tailor Made, Two Gospel Albums, How Great Thou Art & I’ve Gotta Rejoice and has traveled to Africa, Denmark, Canada and Hawaii to sing. Additional experience includes singing for Terrance Kelly, Pastor Kim Burrell, Karen Clark-Sheards, Shirley Ceasar, Juanita Bynum & many more.
Michael is a gospel recording artist who released his freshman CD in 2011 entitled Nikao. The 1st single was played on radio stations nationwide. Michael’s second release Bout to Turn Up was featured on gospel stations around the country as well. Michael is the 2013 & 2014 recipient of The Bay Area Black Music Award for Best Male Gospel Artist and is currently a praise and worship leader at Revival Center Ministries in Vallejo, Ca. Michael also sings lead in a 5 man vocal group called The Best Intentions which has received worldwide attention.
JaCoree Prothro born in Oakland, California to a musical family, developed his skills singing in the church choir. A submission to the Bobby Jones Show landed him a spot singing behind gospel greats such as Vickie Winans, Byron Cage and Dorinda Clark-Cole, to name a few. Currently worship leader for Genesis Church of Antioch. Affectionately called The Vocal Crooner, we are excited for this next chapter, and release of his EP set to release in 2024.
DION W WILLIAMS
Dion W Williams (Tenor) an Oakland, California native began his musical journey under the leadership of his grandfather, Rev. Otha Johnson at the Rock Of Ages Misionary Baptist Church. There at the age of 5 he began singing in the choir and later becoming the head choir director. His works has been influential throughout the Bay Area singing local community choirs like Robin Williams & Peace Gospel Choir, Eugene Cole & Persuaded, and Northern California Gospel Music Workshop of America. One of Dion's greatest gifts is that God gave him the voice to sing. Currently Dion is a proud member of Life Restoration Ministries (LRM) where his pastor is the Rev. Dr. Botiwa Jackson. There at LRM he serve as a worship leader and sings in the choir.
Mary Williams is a native of Oakland, born to the late Mr Albert and Helen Williams, and is the mother of one son. Williams was born into a musical family, singing at the young age of 3. Over the years Williams has directed choirs, done features, background vocals and stage plays. Currently attends Word Assembly and is a worship leader at churches across the Bay Area. Stay tuned for music coming soon.
Tina Bryant attended Azusa Pacific University on a 4-year music scholarship. Tina is a professional pianist, organist, director, writer, singer and producer. She has been playing the piano since the age of eight years old. Her musical styles include gospel., jazz, and classical. She has won numerous awards for her piano playing. She was nominated as best Bay Area keyboardist of the Gospel Academy awards of Northern California. She has played for President Clinton during his tour in the Bay Area. She has accompanied several gospel recording artists such as Saundra Crouch, Pat Boone, La Shun Pace-Rhodes, Dorinda and Karen Clark of the Clark Sisters. She has also played on programs with Kirk Franklin, John P. Kee, Daryl Coley, Hezekiah Walker, Ed Kelly, the Oakland Symphony, London Symphony under the Direction of Dr Gary Bonner of Azusa Pacific University, Bobby Jones, Jazz in Pink under the direction of Gale Jhonson from Norman Brown and many more. She has done recordings with several choirs and groups in the Bay Area. Tina has also served as Minister of Music in several churches ranging from Southern to Northern California. Tina is currently lead musician for the Grand Advent 7th Day Adventist Church in Oakland California. She has her own production company, “JLB Music Productions”, where she writes and produces her own music.
Joseph is a 40yr multifaceted individual, balancing my roles as a dedicated church drummer, successful business man, and devoted father. With my rhythmic beats and unwavering commitment, I bring a vibrant energy to the worship experience, uplifting the congregation with his drumming skills. Beyond his musical talents,I thrive in the business world, where i combine my strategic mindset and entrepreneurial spirit to excel. Yet, amidst my professional endeavors, My true joy lies in being a loving father. I cherishes every moment with my children, pouring my heart and soul into nurturing their growth and happiness. My dynamic nature and unwavering dedication makes me a remarkable presence in all areas of my life.