Bringing Albany a 'Very Merry Christmas'

ALBANY -- Southwest Georgia fans of contemporary Christian music can rejoice as NewSong's "Very Merry Christmas Tour" tour makes its way to the Good Life City Friday night.

Set for 7 p.m. at Life Christian Center on Stuart Avenue, the concert features the Grammy nominated group best known for their holiday hit "Christmas Shoes," as well as Big Daddy Weave and Francesca Battisetlli.

Tickets are $25 for gold circle, which includes VIP seating and a pre-show artist meet-and-greet, $18 for general admission in advance or $20 for general admission at the door. Discounts for groups of 20 or more are also available. Tickets can be purchased at Life Christian Center International, Family Christian Bookstore and LifeWay Bookstore.

"It's going to be a fun night of Christmas music," said NewSong co-founding member Billy Goodwin during a recent telephone interview.

The focus on the evening will be to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the Christian focus of Christmas.

"We'll share the Gospel," Goodwin said.

Helping NewSong, which got its start in Valdosta, will be fellow contemporary Christian artists Big Daddy Weave and Battistelli.

"All of them have Christmas songs out," Goodwin said.

Friday's concert will also include the return of NewSong vocalist Russ Lee, who left the group in 2000.

"Russ joined us back in February," Goodwin said. "We're really excited to have him back."

Lee's return came in time to take part in NewSong's latest album, "Give Yourself Away," which came out in November, a CD that took a while to work on.

"That project probably took about a year to complete," Goodwin said, explaining that he and his fellow band members worked on it in between touring.

But Friday's concert is only intended to laud the Christmas season.

"Mainly, it's essentially Christmas music," Goodwin said. "The whole) night is dedicated to Christmas."

Part of the reason for that fun is that Friday's performance is a return trip to the Good Life City for the Southwest Georgia native band.

"That's sort of like home," Goodwin said. "We have a lot of friends who live in Albany."

Plus, a member of the crew has a personal tie here.

"Our road pastor, Bobby Joiner, is from Albany," Goodwin said.

The Albany stop is an annual visit for NewSong, which began a Christmas tour about eight years ago.

"It started after the 'Christmas Shoes' came out in 2001," Goodwin said.

While focusing on the holidays, NewSong's Christmas tour is a more intimate tour than other times of year.

"Concerts are Christmas size, with 1,000-2,000 people," Goodwin said. "I really enjoy them. You feel like you're more in touch with folks."

For more information, call (229) 439-4845 or visit www.lcci.us or www.newsongonline.com.