So we’re headed for the airport, and LaJuan, our driver, who was still excited about last night at Houston’s Arena Theatre, was going on and on about the white guy on stage with me who sounded so black and R&B and sang like Michael McDonald and Joe Cocker. And he was right. Joe Turano was all over and into Lost and Found. We share that song as a duet, originally recorded with Joe Cocker on the All I Got album. Last night, it had a special place amongst old favorites and Christmas music.

The Arena Theatre. In the Round with a revolving stage. Every seat is within 80 feet, with the 360° front row just 4 feet away. We’ve been here many times, and it’s still exciting and new and fun.

It’s Christmas time, so we featured some songs from the Christmas album. But we opened with a couple of hard-hitting rhythmic library classics: Never Givin’ Up and then Black and Blues, then Larry Williams’ new arrangement of Winter Wonderland, and by now everyone knows we’re gonna weave these two themes all night long. And we go back to the library for some hand-clapping jazz-funk with Cold Duck and then they sing like the church choir on After All to touch my heart.

Carol of the Bells is challenging and complex to the ears, and especially the vocal chords. Every time we do it, you can hear a pin drop. The Joe Turano arrangement brilliantly allows this nonstop piece to breath by interjecting space between the sections so that you can absorb and even reflect on the quick paced previous section. They cheer when it’s finished—Oh God I’m thrilled!

Earlier this morning, we visited radio in person: Kandi at Majic 102 and Terry at KHJZ. The warmth of their reception turned me upside down. What a thrilling surprise to be appreciated at contemporary radio with such genuine spirit. A great unexpected gift to me. Thank you, and thank you, Chris Walker! You made the calls and opened the doors for me and that radio audience to renew connections.

And then you walked onstage to sing a duet with me on your arrangement of O Come, All Ye Faithful. I’ll never forget the audible gasp from the audience when you opened your mouth and poured out your big magnificent voice, so flexible in new gospel phrasings. I was so proud! If they didn’t know you before, they do now, and somewhere out there, Dr. Robert Morgan was choking back tears of pride, and so was Mark Simmons on stage, on drums, another student of Doc Morgan. What a kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions on display for everyone to see and celebrate with us.

I’ve begun to wonder if I could tolerate the sweltering summer heat here and bask in your really cool climate of “Hello Houston- This is mission control.” Do you read me loud and clear, Houston? I love it here and I love you.


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