Asbury community celebrates Christmas with Jaci Velasquez

Published 12:49 pm Friday, December 28, 2018

From staff reports

Orchestral notes blended with vocals from Grammy-nominated singer Jaci Velasquez to the tune of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” late last month as a crowd of students, alumni and friends sang along in Asbury University’s Hughes Auditorium.

For several years, the university has offered a Christmas gift to the community featuring performances from critically acclaimed artists. This year, Velasquez was chosen to perform Christmas and worship songs during an evening concert.

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Velasquez was accompanied by the Asbury University Orchestra and a small backing band which included her husband and fellow singer Nic Gonzalez, who is part of the Christian band Salvador.

Gonzalez and Velasquez teamed up on vocals as they led the congregation in worship during “Great Are You Lord.”

Velasquez delighted fans in sprinkling some of her early hits throughout the show, including “God So Loved the World,” “On My Knees” and “Un Lugar Celestial (A Heavenly Place.)”

The singer dedicated “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to Asbury President Dr. Sandra C. Gray as a nod to Dr. Gray’s last Christmas as University president.

Windsor Manor was aglow with familial chatter as alumni, friends, students and community members reconnected, embraced and laughed during the president’s reception held prior to the Christmas-themed concert.

The show marked Velasquez’s first visit to Asbury’s campus and she said she thoroughly enjoyed meeting students and faculty during her time at the University.  

“Asbury University shows itself to be a beautiful gem tucked away,” Velasquez said. “I think the Christmas season brings an even more beautiful light to it. All the history behind the campus and the university is fascinating – but, more than anything, their hospitality is beautiful.”   

Hossana Miranda, who, during her time as a student, was an elementary education major hailing from Bolivia – was excited to be back on campus to reconnect with friends and to hear Velasquez’s songs live. Many of which she said she grew up listening to.  

“It feels really great,” Miranda said. “It brings back so many memories of when I was in Chapel and going to classes. I’m reliving the experience. I’m excited to see Jaci perform. My parents always used to listen to her music when I was young, so it brings back lots of memories.”

Vanguard class member Al Peach said he was elated to be back on campus, mingling with fellow Asburians and wanted to spread some Christmas cheer as he attended the concert donning a bright green suit with a one-of-a-kind candy cane pattern.

“I loved it!” Peach said of the show. “It’s always fun to be back on campus.”