A family Christmas: David Phelps brings hope of the season to State Theatre concert
Multi-Dove and Grammy Award winner David Phelps performs classic Christmas songs at the State Theatre Center for the Arts, 7 p.m. Dec. 22. The former member of the renowned Gaither Vocal Band for 20 years will lend his powerful tenor to the sounds of the season.
“This is our nineteenth annual Christmas tour. I can’t believe I’ve been doing anything that long. Every year in November we pull out the Christmas music and dust it off and we come up with some new arrangements to add to it.
“Whatever tour we were on ... this year we were on the hymnal tour, ‘A Journey of Faith’ ... we set that aside and go into ‘Classic Christmas’ until the end of the year. There’s always this bit of excitement in coming back to these songs and having the chance to sing them once again,” Phelps says in a phone interview.
The State Theatre concert is expected to run about 2 hours and 15 minutes, including intermission.
Phelps was raised in Tomball, Texas, and graduated from Baylor University, majoring in music and vocal performance. He directed the Baylor Religious Hour Choir. He sang tenor in the Gaither Vocal Band 1997 - 2005 and 2009 - 2017.
Phelps credits Bill and Gloria Gaither for guiding his musical journey.
“I used to be in the Vocal Band, I left in March of this year. I had a long tenure there with the Vocal Band and it was wonderful. I always dreamed of working with Bill and Gloria Gaither and they are life long mentors to me. Just to watch how they run their organization and how they present their music, I’ve definitely been a student all those years.” says Phelps.
“I traveled solo all during the time I was with the Vocal Band, so it’s like one thing is just taking over the other. It’s not like I have just started brand-new, so that really has helped.
“Solo work is always different than the Vocal Band. The Vocal Band is more like: you step in, you do the part that’s given to you. As a soloist, you step out and you are directing the ship, so to speak. It’s a lot more work and a lot more pressure, but it can be a lot of reward as well.”
Phelps’ solo albums include “One Wintry Night,” “Christmas with David Phelps,” and “Hymnal.”
“I love our arrangement of ‘Joy To The World.’ There are great brass parts on it. ‘O Holy Night’ is one of my longtime favorites. It just seems like it never gets old. To think that generations have sung that before me and that it’s still a viable song and so elegantly captures the mystery of the season. It really does speak to the magnificence of the song.”
Phelps’ plans include resuming the “Journey of Faith” tour in the spring, a video of a concert performance and a studio project.
The Christmas tour is a family affair.
“I started out with a really good momma. That kept me grounded. And I have a wonderful family. We love being around each other and my wife has just been an incredible support system for me throughout all of my career growth. We’ve made all of the decisions together. So when things get too crazy I know I have a safe place to come home to,” Phelps says.
Phelps and his wife, Lori, have four children: Callie, Maggie Beth, David Grant and Coby. The family is featured in the video, “The Best of David Phelps.”
“We have always made this a family thing. My sister plays trumpet in the band, has for years. My daughters travel and sing with me. My music director now for 19 years is my wife’s cousin. The other people in the band have been there 10, 12 years, so they might as well be family. Our hope is that every night that kind of bleeds over into the music that we present and it’s just a time when we can all gather together and share the same message.“
Phelps wants his audience to be uplifted by the Christmas tunes and leave the concert with hope.
“I do want them also to experience world-class music. We do work so hard with our band, we have a seven-, eight-piece band that we travel with. We work so hard to create a great musical experience for the family. Music, for me, is less about the studio and more about the stage. It’s more about standing in front of people and delivering a message that can move them emotionally,” says Phelps.
“We’ll be honing that until the last night of the tour. It’s just something that we keep at. We are singing about Christmas and songs about new birth and new hope and the joy in the world. We have the chance to maybe lighten someone’s load a little bit.”
Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton; statetheatre.org; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132