While outdoor temperatures in Santa Clara were bitter cold, inside the Santa Clara Convention Center it was red hot with the gospel, jazz, latin and soul sounds of Soul Christmas Holiday concert. The Dec. 17 event was the first South Bay concert produced by Cloud of Joy Entertainment (cloudofjoyentertainment.com) founder Joe Cloud of San Francisco.
Cloud of Joy, which is about a year old, unites Cloud’s spiritual calling – he’s an ordained Elder in the Church of God in Christ and says he “grew up under the pew” – his love of music, and his desire to give back to the local community through music scholarships as well as providing performing and hands-on music production opportunities for young people.
Cloud’s enthusiasm for his work recalls the hymn “Tell It Wherever I Go,” by Thomas Dorsey (1899-1993) – widely acknowledged as the father of contemporary gospel music and composer of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”
Originally from San Diego, Cloud has faced what felt like insurmountable in his own life, especially as a student struggling to work his way through college and graduate school in San Francisco. He says that the support of others was critical for his own success. Clouds of Joy aims “to encourage all those who can use some inspiration and [need] to be guided to some tangible resource that can possibly enhance their lives for the better,” he says.
The evening featured the talents of the Richmond, Calif. Church of Christ choir; a stellar and versatile jazz ensemble; and conductor Epheann English – founder of Acapella Jam and Talent Showcase and a well-known local performer known for her fiery vocal style.
Also on the program was Houston-based tenor and songwriter Jeff Murrah, (jeffmurrah.webs.com) who sang his irresistible “I Ain’t Coming Back No More” and “Run Tell That.”
“It’s not just about the singing,” he said. “It’s about being of service to people.” And truly, Murrah brought a lot of joy to an appreciative audience that night.
Murrah got his start in the 1980s when he was tapped for Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday tour promoting a national holiday honoring the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. He’s also a past recipient of the National Christian Acapella Music Association’s contemporary artist and song of the year awards.
The support of the staff at Santa Clara Convention Center was key to putting this first of what producer Cloud hopes will be many similar events. “They’ve been great to us, and we’re very grateful to them,” Cloud said.
“It’s the season to be thankful, grateful and to appreciate the gift of life,” he said, “to express the true essence of God’s undying love through the act of freely giving to family, friends, people we know and people we don’t know. I am here to tell it the way I know, in every place I go.”