John and Samantha Gracie return for concert in aid of College of Piping

Nancy MacPhee
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‘Christmas Memories’ goes Saturday at Trinity United Church in Summerside

SUMMERSIDE — It’s a concert that has become a Christmas tradition of sorts for Nova Scotia signer/songwriter, John Gracie, and his daughter, Samantha.

John Gracie and daughter, Samantha, return to Summerside Saturday evening for what has become an annual holiday tradition. They will be holding a concert at Trinity United Church, with proceeds in aid of the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts.

Saturday, for the fourth year in a row, the duo takes the stage at Summerside’s Trinity United Church for “Christmas Memories,” a show in aid of the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts.

“I am not 100 per cent sure how it all started, but we were doing our show in Charlottetown for the last 10 years and the College of Piping heard about it,” said John in a recent telephone interview. “Apparently, it has been working because we are going back again this year. It’s worked out really well for all involved.

“It’s becoming another tradition.”

John and Samantha will sing Christmas favourites and tell stories of Christmases past, all backed by a band featuring Danny Sutherland on stand-up bass, Ross Billard on piano and Matt Myer on trumpet.

It’s a show the duo has taken across the country and into the United States, most often in aid of charities such as the Salvation Army’s kettle campaign.

The holiday concert provides a chance for John to spend time with 23-year-old Samantha, who is pursuing a singing and acting career.

“She’s been doing some television spots, some voice overs and commercials. She’s a little dynamo and sings like an angel,” said the proud father. “I just stand back and let her do her thing for a couple of songs. I am just absolutely blown away every year. She just gets more and more mature about it. I am just so proud of her.”

John’s Christmas music has sold more than 60,000 units and counting.

His duo with Samantha of a reworked father-daughter version of “Baby Its Cold Outside” is one of the show’s most popular songs, a touching rendition that, said John, often rings true with many parents in the audience.

“That’s an obligatory one that we have to do since it has gotten so much radio play,” added John. “We love doing it.”

Another fan favourite is a Christmas song penned by John — “Cape Breton Christmas Morning,” — which, said the multiple award-winning singer/songwriter, is one of his favourite holiday songs to perform along with “O, Holy Night.”

“It’s going to be a real eclectic potpourri of favourites that go back to people’s childhoods and even hundreds of years before that, the standard Christmas songs, right up to more of the modern,” he said. “People will leave feeling the Christmas spirit.”

Helping ensure young performers have a chance to do what they love is why, said John, he continues to do the concert in aid of the college.

“Every year that we’ve done this we’ve met some of the kids that are involved in the piping. We’ve also met some of the band members… and I remember when I was their age I was taking singing lessons and it changed my life, it really did,” he added. “The College of Piping does that for a lot of the kids and they would really miss it if they didn’t have something like that.”

To learn more about John, visit his website — Tickets, which cost $10 each, can be purchased at the College of Piping in advance or at the door the night of the show.



Organizations: College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts, Christmas Memories, Trinity United Church Salvation Army

Geographic location: Summerside, Charlottetown, United States

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