LINCOLN (SNR/KVSS) - When the idea first came about to have a benefit Christmas concert at the Rococo Theatre in downtown Lincoln in 2007, Catholic radio was not yet a reality in the Lincoln area, Catholic Social Services was just beginning to develop an idea for a home for abused women, and contemporary Catholic singer/songwriter Ellen Soukup had not yet performed on national television.
What a difference a few years makes.
Spirit 102.7 FM – Spirit Catholic Radio – is now being heard throughout eastern Nebraska and western Iowa (and 91.5 FM in central Nebraska); Catholic Social Services is building St. Gianna Women’s Homes for abused women; and Mrs. Soukup appeared on EWTN’s "Life on the Rock" last July. In each of these instances, the benefit concert played a role in making these things a reality.
The first two concerts contributed funds to get Catholic radio on the air; last year the concert helped get the St. Gianna’s project off the ground; and Doug Barry, the co-host of "Life on the Rock," first heard Mrs. Soukup sing at the Rococo Theatre.
"The Holy Spirit is not done yet," smiled Mrs. Soukup, who will perform at this year’s annual event called, "An Evening with Ellen and Friends – Celebrating the Season," presented by Spirit Catholic Radio Dec. 5 at the Rococo Theatre in Lincoln.
"There are too many women who are trying to escape from abusive situations," she said. "I pray this concert to benefit St. Gianna Women’s Homes will help with the significant funds needed for this project to continue."
After appearing on "Life on the Rock" earlier this year, Mrs. Soukup said it was a fun and rewarding experience, but when it comes right down to it, she would rather stay closer to home.
"I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not doing this for fame or fortune. My family is the most important thing to me and I can’t be with them if I’m on the road performing a lot," she said.
Yet, Mrs. Soukup admitted the urge to perform doesn’t go away, and she’s found ways to fulfill that need, albeit on a smaller stage.
"I love the fact that the Lord gives me these opportunities to express my love for Him with my voice and songs, whether that is at a benefit concert, a wedding, funeral, or at church," she said.
Each year, Mrs. Soukup said she sings in about 25 weddings, 15 funerals, and a few concerts sprinkled in between. She also can be heard just about every Sunday at the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. John the Apostle Church in Lincoln, where she is also music director.
This year, the benefit Christmas concert will feature performances from her daughter Carolyn, the Cantabella Choir from Pius X High School, Trumpeter Kevin Murray, and the "Ellen Christmas Concert Band" will debut led by Dr. Cary Ward.
"It’s just a down-home, great ‘date night’ kind of event that will help us to celebrate the reason for the season and support a worthy cause," Mrs. Soukup said.
Christmas Benefit Concert Has Many Benefits