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Preview of Soulful Christmas, The Kimmel Center Tradition

Posted by:  Kimmel Center on November 18, 2016

A Soulful Christmas is a treasured Kimmel Center tradition, and it’s less than a month away. We talked to the man behind the evening of gospel song and regional choristers, Dr. Donald Dumpson, about what to expect this year and the impact on the Philadelphia community.

This is your 4th year conducting the Kimmel Center’s A Soulful Christmas. What do you look forward to most year after year?                             

I am honored to say that I am the founding artistic and music director of A Soulful Christmas. I commend the Kimmel Center for having the foresight to invest itself in this event. It serves as a beacon of joy to all through INSPIRED Spoken Word and African American Sacred Music.

Our president, Anne Ewers, has shared that her Kimmel Center “ah-ha” moment took place during A Soulful Christmas. What is your Kimmel Center “ah-ha” moment?

My “ah-ha” moment: The realization that the corporate world and care for the spirit of diverse communities can co-exist powerfully through the Arts and Business.


This year, there is an open call for middle and high school singers to join the celebration [under Director Dr. Rollo Dilworth from the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale Youth Division]. Tell us about this new addition to the program and how Soulful brings the community together.

Dr. Rollo Dilworth is an acclaimed scholar specializing in choral music and education. He is the chair of the music education and music therapy departments at the Temple University Boyer College of Music.   

This year we want to create a new connection for the participating youth, affording them the opportunity to work with Dr. Dilworth. One of the very important aspects of this collaboration is that the youth will have two rehearsals at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church (Rev. Dr. Alyn Waller, pastor) and two rehearsals on the Temple Campus. The former is something to which the youth are very accustomed. The latter is significant because we want to plant the seeds of aspiration to excellence early by bringing the young people to the Temple University Campus to work with a tenured professor such as Dr. Dilworth.

The entire Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts Choir, under the direction of Mrs. Sharon Gore, will also participate in the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale Choir - Youth Division presentation.

What would you say to the person who has never experienced A Soulful Christmas?

The participants in A Soulful Christmas (this year over 400 singers) invite you to join us. We have planned a joyous evening of spoken word, song, [and] dance along with a spectacular closing to the evening with a visually mesmerizing “Finale of Lights!”

We aim to lift your spirit, encourage you, and inspire you to love yourself enough to care for your neighbor. Our aim is to spread love, joy, and excitement.


Check out other recent blog posts, including a back-in-time look at a football game played inside the Academy of Music and our brand new Education video!

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