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Joy in the City kicks off the holiday season

'I want people to come and feel the joy,' said Verese Vassell-Bowen about Joy In The City IV, A Gospel Christmas Celebration
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Verese Vassell-Bowen rehearses for the 2018 Joy In The City Christmas show at the Guelph Little Theatre. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday file photo

It's a night of music that artists hope to bring residents joy ahead of the holidays.

Joy In The City IV, A Gospel Christmas Celebration is happening in Downtown Guelph. Event producer and choir director, Verese Vassell-Bowen, said her heart is overwhelmed by the support from residents for the fourth annual event.

"It made an impact to a point where people are excited for it to be coming back, it gives my heart joy," said Vassell-Bowen.

"I want this place to sell-out, that is my intention. We need to have a sold-out experience because it's that good, it's a really profound production."

Guests joining this year's event with Joy In The City choir include local musicians, Tracy Cain and Michael Austin Harris, as well as Juno award-winning artists, Sharon Riley and Carlos Morgan.

This year, Vassell-Bowen adds there will also be some new musical guests, including Guelph musician Siles Chinsen and Kerroy Williams from the Juno award-winning group, the Toronto Mass Choir.

"My heart was filled with joy when some of the Juno artists said they wanted to come back, and I was like, 'What? This is so awesome!'" said Vassell-Bowen, who is currently holding rehearsals for the show at Royal Music Studios.

Now over two years into the pandemic, Vassell-Bowen wants people to feel the joy gospel music brings her and enjoy the art form. She adds gospel music brings a lot to the table. 

"It's the coming together of the arts sharing just an evening of incredible music and artwork. Music has a way of bringing us together, tugging at the heartstrings, especially during Christmas," said Vassell-Bowen.

"Based on the energy that it brings, it sounds cliche, but the joy that it brings, it's just an experience that stays with you."

Joy In The City IV will take place at Royal City Mission on Dec. 10 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are under $17. Purchase tickets at

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Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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