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Holiday concert goes virtual

For the first time in a long time, the Christmas season in Pike County will not be ushered in by Shelia & Friends as in the past.

The Troy Arts Councils’ annual Christmas offering to the community is “normally” the “Shelia Jackson and Friends Holiday Concert at the Claudia Crosby Theater on the campus of Troy University. The concert features a showcase of amazingly talented singers, musicians, dancers and kids from Pike and surrounding counties.

However, the year 2020 is different. Because of COVID-19 nothing is as it used to be and many holiday traditions will be canceled or altered as the times dictate.

For Shelia Jackson and the many for whom Shelia Jackson and Friends is a holiday tradition, the season wouldn’t be the same without the traditional holiday concert.

“The more I thought about not having the holiday concert, the more I realized that we had to have it,” Jackson said. “COVID-19 has taken way so many of the events, even traditions, that are so meaningful, so important and I just couldn’t imagine not ushering in the Christmas season without our many ‘friends’ and without the community.”

Jackson’s idea for a virtual concert was readily and enthusiastically accepted by the Troy Arts Council, which is the annual host/sponsor of the concert.

Bill Hopper, TAC president, said like Jackson, the TAC wanted to find a way to welcome the Christmas season in the traditional Pike County way, “with Shelia Jackson and Friends.”

Hopper said he, the TAC, and Jackson and friends are excited to have the opportunity to present the annual Christmas concert, virtually on locally TV stations, WSFA, WAKA and others across the River and Wiregrass regions and on social media during the Christmas season.

“The concert was taped Saturday at the Crosby Theater on the Troy University campus to be run in December on the days leading up to and on Christmas Day,” Hopper said. “And it was taped without a hitch. It was vintage Shelia Jackson and the entire show was as good as always.”

Hopper said the show brings the extended Troy community together with a joyous spirit of love and excitement during this special season. 

“The late Dr. Johnny Long of Troy University explained to me that there are no problems, only opportunities to excel,” Hopper said. “The problems and challenges we have endured in 2020 gave us the opportunity to think outside the box and give birth to a new way to usher in the Christmas season.”

Hopper said, for many years, the citizens of Troy have been blessed to enjoy Shelia’s Christmas show in person and now, because of COVID-19, others will have the opportunity to enjoy the show remotely. “During this troubled time in our country, we envision this show as a bridge to bring people together with a spirit of love that is so desperately needed,” Hopper said.