Jesus' Holiday Playlist

Quite contrary. Photo courtesy Cerritos Performing Arts Center

Choosing which holiday concert to experience this overly busy time of year is sometimes enough to make your head spin. But if you want to feel it, I mean really feel it inside, allow time Saturday evening for the soulful pairing of Mary Mary and Take 6 at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center.

One of the brightest acts in contemporary gospel music, Mary Mary—that is, Inglewood-raised siblings Erica and Tina Atkins—does justice to the word praiseworthy. The duo's soaring vocal harmonies and uplifting stage presence are a given; what should make this show particularly joyous will be its focus on the sisters' new A Mary Mary Christmas, a sparkling collection of reworked holiday classics and refreshing originals. Particularly wonderful are the thumping African drums and bleating horns heard in "O Come All Ye Faithful" and the emotionally drenched singing in the inspirational "Call Him Jesus."

While Mary Mary is known for its spiritual message of devotion, the duo has secular audience appeal, too, with added elements of R&B, soul, urban, and hip-hop into their far-reaching repertoire.

A cappella veterans Take 6, once described by Quincy Jones as "the baddest vocal cats on the planet," offer a warm, smooth blend of gospel, jazz, doo-wop, R&B, and pop. Committed to using their voices as a tool for ministry, the Alabama-bred sextet sings spirituals with both gentle grace and a dedicated fervor. Expect the gentlemen to draw freely from their many hits, a pair of holiday albums (1991's He is Christmas, 1999's We Wish You a Merry Christmas) and their latest release, this year's aptly titled Feels Good.

A Mary Mary Christmas with Take 6 at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center, 12700 Center Court Dr., Cerritos, (562) 467-8818; Sat., 8 p.m. $18.50-$40. All ages.

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