Monday, May 8, 2006

Concert celebrates cultural diversity and unity

From Daily Republic
By Audrey Wong

SUISUN CITY - Linda Hamel didn't feel well Sunday so she sought sun at the Suisun City waterfront to shake off her gloom.

Hamel did more than shake - she boogied - when she found her cure by the Suisun City Harbor on Main Street. The Fairfield resident stumbled upon the first Cultural Unity Day concert organized by Mount Calvary Baptist Church's Christian Education Ministry. The inspirational music floating through the waterfront got Hamel dancing.

"This makes me feel so high, so good inside," Hamel said as she shimmied to the Mount Calvary Mass Choir. "Since I came here I feel better, so much better."

Church members put on the free event as a way of giving back to the community, said Kathryn Williams, Mount Calvary's evangelical outreach director. The Christian education ministry assembled the various acts to bring different people to gather and recognize cultural diversity in the area.

"This is to celebrate cultural unity in our community," Williams said. "We also need to celebrate our sameness . . . We all belong to the human race."

Williams estimated hundreds - nearly 1,000 - participated.

Among the performers were the Formasan United Methodist Choir which sang in Chinese, poetic rap by Divercity, youngsters singing in Mount Calvary Voice of Promises and Jettie Taylor and the MC Praise Dancers. Comedian Dennis Gaxiola hosted the show and evoked laughter between sets.

"He's very smart, very funny," Phan Simmanotham said of the MC, as he watched the entertainment from under the shade.

Suisun City Councilman Mike Segala noted the wind ceased and the weather increased by 20 degrees the day of the show. The audience got refuge from the bright sun by lounging under the shade of palm trees.

Saxophonist Andrew Beal blew sultry notes of gospel jazz. For his last song Beal jammed with the Mount Calvary Band and danced.

The Mount Calvary Mass Choir belted out songs of praise, prompting many audience members to clap, sway, hop and groove to the music.

Nicole Barnett said she hopes Mount Calvary has the concert next year.

"In the past years we've seen the cultural event in Vacaville," Barnett said. "It would be nice to see something like that in the Fairfield-Suisun City area."

Williams said others have asked if the event will be annual. She said that they will if divine intervention wills it.

"If the Lord says so," Williams said.

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or

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