Grammy award winning artist Chris Tomlin has always delivered beautiful Christmas concert celebrations, but with the significant changes to current live music structure, the songwriter teamed up with K-LOVE radio and worked with Awakening Events and Stabal to bring a new, virtual, holiday experience to listeners. “K-LOVE Christmas and Chris Tomlin Present Christmas Songs of Worship,” will feature guest artists including We The Kingdom and Pat Barrett, and is the first collaboration between the multiple organizations.
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Stabal, quickly growing within the space of digital music content by providing a platform to bring on-demand music performances, was the natural fit to work with K-LOVE and Awakening Events in this specific circumstance to bring viewers the comforting atmosphere of Tomlin’s Christmas concerts. Dan Fife, president and founder of Awakening Events and Steve Odart, Stabal CEO and founder, told American Songwriter how the collaboration started and what fans can expect from the show.
How did this unique partnership between Stabal and Awakening Events come together?
“Team Awakening Events was finishing a run of 150 drive-in shows, all COVID-19 safe, socially distanced, from summer to early fall,” said Fife. “I had been talking to three different companies starting to get into virtual concerts. Lott Shudde, who I had worked with during the Third Day touring years, called me to tell me about Stabal and how Steve Odart had started the digital live performance platform in 2018 after selling another successful tech company. Steve was way ahead of the curve already as being proactive and not reactive to COVID-19. Several zoom calls and here we go.”
“We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the top organizations in the industry, from record labels to publishers and beyond, and it felt like a natural fit to work with Dan and the Awakening Events team as soon as we started discussing the great, quality content we could create together,” said Odart. “Awakening Events has a tremendous legacy with the amazing lineup of concert events they have delivered over the years, and we’re beyond excited to collaborate with them as we bring their shows to Stabal, where live music lives as we connect artists and fans through intimate, high-definition online concerts.”
What are the primary goals behind this partnership, and specifically with this Christmas event?
“The partnership between Awakening Events and Stabal will enhance our live concert brick and mortar business post-COVID-19. I’m going to leave it at that for now,” Fife noted. “This is “K-LOVE Christmas & Chris Tomlin present Christmas Songs of Worship.” K-LOVE has such an enormous positive presence in America coast-to-coast and streaming around the globe. Having Chris Tomlin and K-LOVE together with Awakening Events is so special.
No one does Christmas music like Chris Tomlin. I, along with Team AE, have worked with Chris Tomlin for over 15 years. We started in about 1,200-1500 seat rooms. Fast forward to selling out Madison Square Garden twice inside of 12 months, and now selling out two nights at Red Rocks every other year—it’s been an amazing decade and a half.
Ten years ago, Chris Tomlin did some Christmas dates and loved them. Chris says it best, “no other season of the year or holiday has its own genre of music.” The last several years AE exclusively produced his Christmas tours, working with his longtime agent from day one, Bryan Myers of Platform Artists in Franklin, Tennessee and Anthony Piedmonte, founder Piedmonte Co in Nashville. Anthony is an amazing vision caster and has pushed us all in such great ways. We all dream together and then, just do it.
Lobbies smell like sugar cookies with diffusers we bought together, brass bands play Christmas music, fans get free sugar cookies from Santa’s grandmother’s helpers in the lobby – it’s a Chris Tomlin Christmas experience. But the music is solid and lyrically straight forward, offering hope and love to all. I get excited. We want this virtual experience to hopefully capture it all and put it in everyone’s homes. It’s needed right now, and with the bonus content Chris really opened his heart, soul and mind with some good friends around an outdoor fire. You just have to experience it for yourself.”
“We couldn’t agree more with Dan that this is the type of show we all need right now,” Odart added. “Our mission with Stabal is to continuously bring fans opportunities to discover inspiring music and stories while supporting their favorite artists or being introduced to new ones. K-LOVE and Chris have been spreading hope and love with their Christmas shows for years now and it means so much to us that we can bring them together for this show to virtually unite a worldwide audience and broadcast the true spirit of Christmas.”
The guest list of artists to participate in the show is powerful. What is so important about bringing artists together for an event such as this?
“We want this K-LOVE and Chris Tomlin event to really bring people together in collaboration and unity, which our country needs. The music and the artists sing of a hope in the Christmas season, the reason for the season as we say,” Fife said.
How will the event work practically and what will be performed?
“From a functional standpoint, we pride ourselves on bringing viewers a world class experience with unparalleled production quality that still feels intimate and brings them closer to their favorite artists,” Odart explained. “Chris Tomlin fans will feel like they’re right there in the Franklin Theatre with him, getting a front row seat for the performance while still enjoying state-of-the-art visuals, audio and lighting.
We also want fans to experience the show in the way they prefer and are offering two access options for the event: either a one-time pass to the live show on December 12, or a deluxe 30 day pass that will let them watch the show on December 12 and re-watch as many times as they want throughout the holiday season and access additional content. This bonus content includes the up close and personal interview content with Chris that Dan had mentioned, as well as an exclusive acoustic performance and more.”
Is this type of concert a one-off approach to a holiday show, or will this method stick on a more permanent level?
“This is certainly not our first rodeo, having started this journey back in 2018, and connecting artists with their fans through a digital experience since that time,” Odart explained. “However, this is the first Christmas online concert we’ve done of this scale, and we are delighted that it is with these legends, K-LOVE Christmas and Chris Tomlin. It is a shame that it has taken a global pandemic to accelerate the idea of connecting a global audience at the same time, being inspired and moved by an artist’s performance. However, now that we are here and everyone is getting to experience the enhanced experience that a digital event can bring, I am sure you will be seeing these digital events enhancing and amplifying live, physical concerts long into the future. We look forward to continuing to innovate in this space, finding interesting ways to make this unique global connection even more satisfying for everyone involved.”