The Spirit of Christmas Concert will take place at the Emmaus Center, 288, Berry St., at 8 p.m. For ticket information, visit futuresineducation.org/events/concert2021/
By Currents News Staff and Paula Katinas
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Music can help bring people together, even in a sharply divided nation, according to Matt Maher, a top-selling contemporary Christian singer-songwriter, who will be one of the featured performers at the Spirit of Christmas Concert on Dec. 13 at the Emmaus Center of Brooklyn.
“We live in such a divisive time,” said Maher, a Canadian-born Catholic who has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards over the years. “Yet, art has an ability to cut through even our own biases or wounds. It has the ability to hopefully create empathy.”
Maher, who lives with his family in Nashville, Tennessee, firmly believes that God is at the center of art and that through art, He can create unity.
“Making music is a gift that I was given,” Maher continued in an interview last week. “And I believe that I was given it by God. Art can be like a lifeline for people. I think God’s in the middle of that. Absolutely. I think He wants people to know how much He loves them.”
Looking ahead to his Brooklyn performance, Maher expressed excitement about the inaugural concert for the new arts center in Williamsburg.
“As an artist, anytime I get to play music and also be part of something that impacts a community, it definitely increases the meaningful nature of what music and art can do in a community. So, in particular, it’s a beautiful thing to be part of the impact that center will have for the Diocese of Brooklyn, for the city, and for the community,” he said.
Maher will treat the Emmaus Center audience to several songs from “The Advent of Christmas,” his 2018 release which won Christmas Album of the Year honors at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.
The Spirit of Christmas concert, featuring guitarist Maher and tenor Danny Rodriguez at the venue’s inaugural event, is a joint venture of the Emmaus Center and Futures in Education, a notable foundation supporting schools and students in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The 600-seat Emmaus performance space is housed in the renovated Williamsburg Opera House.
Craig Tubiolo, executive director of the center, said the site of the historic opera house “is once again ready to be a premiere destination for great shows in Brooklyn.”
Maher, who has been releasing albums since 2001, is one of today’s most successful Christian musicians. Several of his singles have gone gold, selling 500,000 units. His song “Lord, I Need You,” from his 2013 album, “All The People Said Amen,” went platinum, selling 1 million units.
His work has been lauded by the music industry. Among the accolades: He was named Songwriter of the Year at the 2015 Dove Awards, the premier platform honoring the best in various forms of Christian music.
One of the highlights of his career came when he had the honor of performing “Lord, I Need You” at the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. He sang and played guitar as Pope Francis led 3 million worshippers in Eucharistic adoration.
He also performed for Pope Francis in 2015 at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Back in 2008, he had performed for Pope Benedict XVI at the Rally for Youth and Seminarians in Yonkers, N.Y.
After more than 20 years of making music professionally, writing a good song is still a thrill for Maher. He said creating work that speaks to his emotions and to the emotions of others is his ultimate aim.
“Absolutely, I want to be moved by the reality of God’s love in my life. And I want that to be reflected in my art because, if it doesn’t move me as a songwriter, it’s not going to move anyone else,” he said.
“So, as I’m writing songs these days, I’m always asking the question, ‘Does this feel honest?’ ”