The atmosphere was electric at the annual Christmas Celebration hosted by Bubba McNeely, Mark Lowry and Deena Davidson at Lowry's spacious Garden Oaks home Tuesday night because it may be the last one. For the past dozen years, the trio have thrown the festive holiday party to showcase some of Houston's top singers, who belt out holiday favorites around a baby grand piano in Lowry's living room to get the season off to a great start.
Lowry, who jokes that the residuals he receives from the Christmas song he wrote, "Mary, Did You Know?", paid for the compound, is putting it up for sale, so it will likely be the last year the songfest is held. More than 140 top artists, including Cee Lo Green, Mary J. Blige, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flats, Clay Aiken, Kenny Rogers and Wyonna Judd have recorded the song, which has become a holiday favorite.
Lowry, who jokes that the residuals he receives from "Mary, Did You Know?" paid for the compound, is putting it up for sale, so it will likely be the last year the songfest is held.
Lowry earned a enthusiastic standing ovation when he sang his version of the hit before the crowd of more than 100. McNeely of the popular duo Bubba and Greg, who have a regular gig at Mr. Peeples and will bring in the New Year on Dec 31 at Hearsay on the Green, roamed around the room while singing "You've Got a Friend" to elicit audience participation and "White Christmas."
Other singers who thrilled the audience included Ken Gayle, who sang the Michael McDonald song, "Peace," American Idol contestant Vincent Powell, who crooned "O Come all Ye Faithful," Luis Hernandez, who did an a capella rendition of "Ave Maria," Mindy Ramey, who belted out "Oh Holy Night," Bodi Gilbert, who serenaded the crowd with "Away in a Manger," and Jana Bedair, who sang "Grown Up Christmas."
The set ended with a group sing-a-long to a variety of Christmas carols, with Jimmy Warner and Stan Whitmire taking turns on the keyboard.
Getting into the holiday spirit were Vivian Wise and Sergio Morales, Michael Kemper and Michael Grover, Rosemarie Johnson, Courtney Hopson, Neal Hamil, Tena Faust, Tama Lundquist, Debbie Festari, Mauney Mafrige, John Dascoulias, Jeff Shell, Fady Armanious, Nancy Marcus Golden, Angela Nichols, Jeff Gremillion and Jared Lang.