Christmas concert to benefit injured firefighters

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Fourteen years ago, in 1993, the Malibu Vineyard Church decided to put on a holiday Christmas concert at the Smothers Theater at Pepperdine University to help infuse the community with holiday spirit. Members of the church spent long months preparing for the concert-and then the fires broke out. As a result of that tragedy, they donated a portion of proceeds from that concert to fire victims, said recording artist Tommy Funderburk, then a member of the Vineyard.

“At the end of the show everyone gathered together for tea and egg nog,” Funderburk said, where some neighbors met for the first time.

Malibu Vineyard has since left Malibu, but the organization Malibu Christian Fellowship formed, with many of the same members from the former church.

Again, members decided it would be nice to put on another holiday concert this year. And again, they prepared for months, with a lineup including the local school Webster Elementary Holiday Chorus and legendary musical names such as Andraé Crouch, multi-Grammy winning gospel musician, Greg Mathieson, Grammy winning jazz-rock keyboard artist and musical arranger, and gospel singer Tâta Vega, who worked with Crouch and many other notable performers (she was also the voice of Shug Avery in the film “The Color Purple”), and many others, including songwriter/singer Funderburk, who was the lead vocalist for the group Airplay.

And then, fire burned Malibu once more, destroying and damaging more than 80 homes and injuring seven firefighters, one with first- and second-degree burns to his face, Scott Hertzog.

So, the Christian Fellowship decided to turn the concert into a fundraiser once more, for the firefighters who were injured. All proceeds, after expenses, which the Los Angeles County Firefighters Chaplain’s Benevolent Fund will manage, will go to the firefighters injured.

“We felt like Malibu could use a great concert where everyone could kick off the season, and in turn give back to the firefighters who have helped Malibu so much,” Funderburk said.

The holiday concert entitled, “Come Together, and Celebrate the Gift of Christmas,” will take place Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Malibu Performing Arts Center, 23825 Stuart Ranch Road. More information and tickets can be obtained by calling 866.468.3399 or online ticketweb.com