HFC music ensembles, Karen Newman bring ‘Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue’ to Dearborn Dec. 8

Karen Newman

Karen Newman

DEARBORN — Karen Newman is bringing her “Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue” holiday concert – a regional hit – to Dearborn for the first time. And the Henry Ford College Big Band and Blue Fusion vocal jazz group will be part of the performance.

“Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue” – which shares its name with Newman’s regional holiday song, a highlight of the concert – will come to the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., at 8 p.m. Dec. 8.

Tickets cost $15, $25, and $35. They can be purchased at the Ford Center box office or online at www.dearborntheater.com. For special group rates of six or more, contact Rick Goward, HFC Big Band founder and director, by Nov. 22 at rgoward@hfcc.edu.

For further information, call 313-943-2354 or visit the box office from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“We’re excited and honored to be a part of this,” Goward said. “This song has become a staple in Detroit during the holidays. Around these parts, it’s as well known as ‘Jingle Bells.’

“The Big Band and Blue Fusion plan on spreading the Christmas cheer with Karen. It’s been a great experience playing with a vocalist of her caliber.”

A Detroit native and Oakland University alumna, Newman is best known for singing the national anthem before Detroit Red Wings home games – first at Joe Louis Arena and now at the newly-opened Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit – for the last 29 years.

The song “Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue,” which is about celebrating Christmas in Detroit, debuted in 1999. Written by brothers Bob and Gordie Stewart, the song is featured on two of Newman’s holiday CDs: “What Christmas Means to Me” and “Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue.” It’s played throughout the holidays on Detroit airwaves and included in the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade.

“I’ve been working with Bob on original music for years,” Newman said. “We were working on Christmas cover songs and Bob told me about this song. It just fit so perfectly for my voice. It brought back so many wonderful memories of celebrating Christmas in Detroit as a kid. It was just right for me.”

The song’s popularity inspired Newman’s holiday concert. She’s been performing this holiday concert for 17 years.

Newman is looking forward to performing her holiday concert with HFC’s musicians. This is not Newman’s first collaboration with HFC; the groups have performed together at five concerts in the last two years. She has high praise for HFC, and Goward in particular.

“Each time we work together, it’s like ‘We’ve got to do more of this,’” Newman said. “They’re amazing. Rick’s a riot to work with; he keeps things fun. It’s so encouraging to me to be in the presence of a band director who knows what’s going on musically.

“These musicians are so talented. I love how Rick gives them tons of opportunity to perform in a real world music setting – you just can’t get this kind of experience in the classroom.

“I’m excited that HFC’s musicians will be part of the show; they’ll make it extra special. Doing concerts with such talented folks demonstrates why Christmas is definitely my favorite time of the year.”

HFC is home to one of the largest performing music programs, sponsoring the most music ensembles among two-year colleges in Michigan. The musicians from HFC represent a cross-section of HFC’s student body. Music groups from HFC have regularly toured and performed at special events across the country and in Europe.

The Big Band and Midnight Blue Vocal Jazz ensembles performed at the inaugurations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. HFC musicians have performed at the National Museum of American History for approximately 4,000 attendees.