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VOL. 121 | NO. 182 | Thursday, September 14, 2006

Get Ready For Calvary & the Arts

Concert series to run from Oct. 4 to Dec. 6

By Andy Meek

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IT'S SHOWTIME: Memphians Debbie Kines (left) and Teresa Pate performed during last year's Calvary & the Arts series, which starts Oct. 4 this year at Calvary Episcopal Church. -- File Photo By Andy Meek

Part-time singer and entertainer Teresa Pate is over the rainbow for Judy Garland. And she intends to put that adulation on display at an intimate concert in November, part of a series that's long been a Downtown Memphis tradition.

Pate, who works by day at Trust One Bank, will be performing a set of Judy Garland's most memorable standards, most likely including such tunes as "Somewhere over the Rainbow." And she'll be backed by a big band orchestra whose music will blend with her voice in filling the rafters at a historic Downtown church.

The venue is Calvary Episcopal Church, where a more than 20-year-old concert series draws everyone from suburban visitors to Downtown office workers on their lunch breaks. Pate is one of nine acts this year who will be part of the Calvary & the Arts concerts, consisting of free 40-minute shows each Wednesday that start October 4 and run through December 6. Lunch will be served after each show for $6.

Show tunes on tap

The yearly concert series is sponsored by The Daily News Publishing Co., The Tudor Group and Calvary Episcopal Church.

"I have loved her since I was a little girl, seeing 'The Wizard of Oz,'" Pate said of Garland. "Every song she sang she was telling you a story. She's an entertainer, and I'm an entertainer. So we're doing a tribute to Judy Garland - not an impersonation, just trying to hit the top songs."

Pate said she feels a zing on the strings of her heart - to borrow the title of one of Garland's most well-known songs - when talking about her coming set and her personal Garland favorites like "But Not for Me," written by composers George and Ira Gershwin.

And the words of praise flow just as easily for the concert series as a whole.

"It's a wonderful showcase for local performers, where you're able to reach more and different crowds," said Pate, whose husband Sherwood is the concert manager and producer for the series.

"Some people may not want to go to a restaurant or club where it may be smoky, late at night, so this way they get to come in the daytime. This is just a wonderful, wonderful venue."

Concert Series Events
Free 30-minute concerts will be held at 12:05 p.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church, 102 N. Second St., every Wednesday starting Oct. 4. Call 525-6602 for more information or visit www.calvaryjc.org.

Oct. 4
Sonny Turner of The Platters
Oct. 11
Kate Campbell, CD release tour
Oct. 18
DiAnne Price, boogie & blues
Oct. 25
Joyce Cobb, cool jazz
Nov. 1
Kallen Esperian, opera
Nov. 8
Gary Beard, patriotic show
Nov. 15
Teresa Pate, Judy Garland, big band
Nov. 22
Thanksgiving - no performance
Nov. 29
Rhodes Singers, Christmas chorus
Dec. 6
Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Christmas extravaganza

This year marks the fourth go-round for Sherwood, who has been dutifully assembling the roster of acts each year and making sure the whole thing goes off without a hitch. And this year he's mixing things up a bit by expanding each performance by 10 minutes and bringing in a broader slate of acts.

Time-tested tradition

One thing that's not changing is the special regard many Downtown stakeholders have for the event.

"Downtown is blessed with a strong spiritual community, and certainly Calvary is one of the oldest churches in Downtown," said Jeff Sanford, president of the Center City Commission. "And over the years the church has been a contributor not only in the religious but in the cultural sense as well.

"Their current series adds a great deal to the enjoyment of living and working in the Downtown area."

The roster of top local and national talent that will provide that enjoyment includes Sonny Turner, lead vocalist for The Platters; singer-songwriter Kate Campbell; singers DiAnne Price and Joyce Cobb; international opera sensation Kallen Esperian; a patriotic chorale led by Gary Beard and two Christmas-themed shows with orchestras and a choir. That's all in addition to Pate's performance.

And the list mixes a bit of the old with the new.

"What we wanted to do this year was kind of a 'best-of' concert, inviting back those people that we've just gotten the greatest response from in the past," Sherwood said. "So it's kind of a 'best-of' concert, but we've expanded it, too."

A time to sing

The shows are growing from 30 to 40 minutes because of the changing nature of the production. Pate has taken some good-natured ribbing from past guests who complained the shows were just getting started by the time the 30 minutes were up.

The audience also is changing. In the early days, the Calvary & the Arts series was geared toward offering a middle-of-the-day break for the Downtown crowd.

Now, for many people, the event is as much a destination as it is a lunch break.

The October 4 concert features Sonny Turner, The Platters' former lead vocalist and member of an early rock 'n' roll-era singing group whose hits included "The Great Pretender" and "Only You."

"Sonny has sold 53 million records with The Platters, and he's been a vocalist for 40 years," Pate said. "And he also has a Memphis connection, in that his wife is from Memphis."

October 11 will showcase Nashville singer-songwriter Kate Campbell, who will be kicking off the release of her tenth album around that time. One week later it's DiAnne Price, whom Rolling Stone Magazine has referred to as the "queen of boogie woogie."

On October 25, Joyce Cobb, a local performing legend with her own star on Beale Street, will be featured. The November 1 concert star is Kallen Esperian, who will have just returned from performing on the opera stage in Germany.

November 8 will have a patriotic bent, via the Gary Beard Chorale. Teresa Pate will bring back the golden age of the big band era with her Judy Garland show on Nov. 15, and following a break during the next week for Thanksgiving, the concert series will wrap up with a pair of holiday shows.

November 29 brings the Rhodes Singers to perform some holiday favorites, which will be followed up Dec. 6 with a holiday performance by members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, though the concert is not an MS0-sponsored event, per se.

All in all, Pate expects another show-stopper of a series.

"I think it's going to be a great season, and everybody seems excited about it," he said.

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