PEMBROKE — The Givens Performing Arts Center brings “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to life with five-time Grammy-nominated pianist David Benoit on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m.
Benoit, accompanied by his quartet, will perform “A Tribute to Charlie Brown” in honor of the 50-year anniversary of the “Peanuts” television special. The show incorporates the community within the performance to make it a special show for everyone.
As a part of this great concert, Benoit has enlisted the assistance of a local youth choir made up of 20 third- to sixth-grade students from Pembroke and surrounding areas. The Robeson County Children’s Choir is Ariel Bethea, Dahlia Locklear, Faith Floyd, Journey Godwin, Kamryn Lowery, Anna Huesa, Hayley Hunt, Kelsey Hunter, Kennedy Jones, Kevin Locklear, Louae Feliciano, Piper Miller, Raven Cummings, Rayla Craft, Richard Simmons, Ben Peterson, Alena Thomas, Ashtyn Thomas, and Ayianna Dial. Dan Amendola, music director at Pembroke Elementary School, is choir conductor.
“A Tribute to Charlie Brown” features the classic music of Vince Guaraldi along with originals from David Benoit, who took over the helm as music composer for the new Charlie Brown Christmas TV Specials more than a decade ago.
In 1965, the first-ever “Peanuts” animated special took place. It was a landmark event and the start of a tradition that would continue year after year. “Charlie Brown Christmas” is enjoyed around the world by fans of all ages. David Benoit was bitten by the jazz bug after watching the Charlie Brown special and listening to the music of Vince Guaraldi.
“I was already a fan of the comic strip,” he says, “but when I heard that jazz piano trio, that was the defining moment when I decided that I wanted to play like Vince Guaraldi.”
Benoit released over 25 solo albums including Freedom at Midnight (1987), Waiting for Spring (1989) and Shadows (1991), which topped Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Charts at No. 5, No. 1, and No. 2, respectively. His other noteworthy recordings include Letter to Evan (1992), his tribute to another piano influence, Bill Evans, and Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: Fifty Great Years (2000).
Benoit received three GRAMMY® nominations in the categories of Best Contemporary Jazz Performance for “Every Step of the Way” (1989), Best Large Ensemble Performance for GRP All-Star Big Band (1996), and Best Instrumental Composition for “Dad’s Room,” the latter from the album Professional Dreamer (2000).
Benoit’s film scores include The Stars Fell on Henrietta (1995), produced by Clint Eastwood, and The Christmas Tree, produced by Sally Field, which was voted Best Score of 1996 by Film Score Monthly.
In 2010, Benoit received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Smooth Jazz Awards, and he’s worked with an impressive potpourri of musicians including the Rippingtons, Emily Remler, CeCe Winans, Alphonse Mouzon, Dave Koz, Faith Hill, David Sanborn, and Brian McKnight.
For tickets and more information, visit www.uncp.edu/gpac or call 910-521-6361. Tickets can be purchased online at www.uncp.edu/gpactickets.