The Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, presents “A Very Merry Come As You Are Christmas Concert” with Grammy-winning R&B artist Anthony Hamilton.
The concert will be held at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia, this Sunday at 7 p.m.
Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley told WTOP that it was a huge honor to bring in Hamilton, whom he called “one of the greatest voices of our generation,” to sing “the soulful songs that touch our hearts and remind us of Christmas.”
He added, “Imagine singing in the church choir and finding out that you now get to back up Anthony Hamilton. Man, it don’t get no better!”
Hamilton says he was honored to be asked.
“They’re gonna hear some classic soul songs and some Christmas songs that are new and old classics,” Hamilton told WTOP. “I guess they saw that I was fitting for the occasion and I had the spirit and the music that the people of the church wanted to hear. They asked me and I was like, ‘It makes sense, I’m a Baptist boy from Charlotte, getting back to my roots.”
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1971, Hamilton grew up singing in church.
“The church was one of the first places I ever allowed me to hear myself,” Hamilton said.
In 1992, he moved to New York City to release his debut album, “XTC” (1996), but he became a household name with his second album, “Comin’ From Where I’m From” (2003), featuring the hit title track and the follow-up single “Charlene.”
“I had a bad breakup in between that and I’d go down to New York on 34th Street to work with a producer, Mark Madsen, who produced ‘Charlene’ and ‘Comin’ From Where I’m From,'” Hamilton said. “These are the songs that came out through a broken heart and feeling like I was at my lowest point career-wise. This is what came out and what people needed.”
Other hits followed, including “Pass Me Over” (2005), “The Point of It All” (2009) and his acclaimed collaboration with Al Green on “You’ve Got the Love I Need” (2008).
“Anthony has a very unique voice that we needed in that time,” Wesley said. “It wasn’t hip-hoppy, it was a balladeer going back to the Luther Vandrosses, who would just stand up and sing. Anthony’s got that deep soulful voice, but then the songs connect. I love ‘Charlene,’ but my top is ‘The Point of It All.’ … That’s in my top five love songs ever.”
Hamilton also contributed to the posthumous 2Pac remixes of “Thugz Mansion” and “Dear Mama” (2002) and sang the chorus of the Nappy Roots hit single “Po’ Folks” (2003).
“It was like a family reunion, man — some cousins that I had never met,” he said. “That was a magical time in my life that actually set the whole scene for everybody to put the voice and the name together.”
He also sang the chorus of the Jadakiss hit single “Why” (2004).
“Jadakiss is one of the best to ever touch the mic, man — one of the most prolific lyricists, writers, rappers, poets,” Hamilton said. “He’s classic. He’ll go down as one of the best to have ever done it. That song was historic and it touched on a lot of things. Being a part of that was sealing my deal in history in the hip-hop community.”
The pastor himself loves him some Jadakiss.
“Top five lyricists all time,” Pastor Wesley said. “I gotta put Eric B. on there; I gotta put Jay-Z; I gotta put Big on my list; I gotta put Pac; I wanna put Jada — and believe it or not, I love Eminem. I think Eminem as a lyricist is up there.”
On the silver screen, Hamilton worked with Diane Warren to record “Do You Feel Me” on the soundtrack of Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” (2009) starring Denzel Washington. He also joined indie soul singer Elayna Boynton to record the song “Freedom” on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino’s “Django: Unchained” (2012) starring Jamie Foxx.
This weekend’s Christmas concert will be hosted by Sirius XM Radio’s Isaac Carree, who is also an American gospel singer, songwriter, producer, actor and author himself.
It’s part of the church’s “Come As You Are” series, providing unique worship that focuses on the issues and struggles that millennials encounter on a daily basis.