Soulful Noel is a Charlotte holiday music showcase and tradition

 By Cameron Lee

December 12, 2019

For most that know Charlotte’s Quentin Talley, you know he’s a vital conduit in the city’s arts and cultural landscape. From music to poetry to performance arts, Talley is a versatile and unconventional talent and even has his own production company, OnQ. In its seventh year, the company’s annual Christmas concert Soulful Noel is not your traditional holiday event.

“It all started with a conversation between musician and music director, Tim Scott Jr.,” Talley said. “I had mentioned to him that I wasn’t a fan of the usual Christmas shows and wanted to host a show that anti-Christmas people would also like.” 

The Hamiltones performing at Soulful Noel in 2018. Photo: Gena J.

In the beginning, the production was 60 percent narrative and 40 percent music, but as audiences started to clamor for more music, the show turned into a Christmas holiday musical revue in year three. The event has showcased many of the Carolinas’ talented musicians and vocalists including The Hamiltones, Adrian Crutchfield, Blanche J, Bluz, Shago Elizondo, and many more. The sounds and vibrations created from Soulful Noel even inspired a full album that was released in 2015.

“With so many talented songwriters, producers, musicians, and vocalists in the city, we wanted to highlight Charlotte’s creativity and pay tribute to the Christmas song reflecting the black experience,” said Talley. 

That experience, Soulful Noel, available on all streaming platforms today, caught the ears of The New York Times, resulting in an invite to perform live at The New York Times offices in December of 2016. 

“They sent an email asking if we could come to New York and perform live from The New York Times offices and, of course, we said yes! We were actually the second musical guest to be featured after Erykah Badu.” 

The production has hit a certain level of refinement with chemistry and repetition over the years. Offering a soulful interpretation of holiday classics like “Ave Maria,” “Little Drummer Boy,” and “What Do the Lonely Do” through a collection of some of the city’s top musical talent, Soulful Noel has become a holiday institution in the city. “Every year, we present some of the best talent Charlotte has to offer. It’s always a mesh of R&B, soul, jazz and gospel music and it’s guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit,” Talley said. 

Photo: Gena J.

Under the music direction of Tim Scott Jr., this year’s production will feature performances by Kenya Templeton, Mercury Carter, Jason Jet, Curt Keyz, Gena Chambers, Jessica Macks, Quentin Talley and many more talented Charlotte area musicians and singers.

Soulful Noel opens in Charlotte on Friday, December 20 at McGlohon Theater and tickets start at $25. Listen to the album Soulful Noel featuring several Charlotte area musicians and vocalists presented by OnQ Productions. 

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