Vanessa Williams1

On Saturday, Dec. 5, Vanessa Williams and her band will perform live from the Shubert Theatre in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The performance will help provide funds to 20 struggling theaters across the country. The Gretna Theatre is one of only two in Pennsylvania represented on the list; the other is the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Photo courtesy of Rod Spicer.

Though she won't be there physically, Vanessa Williams is about to lend a helping hand to the Gretna Theatre in a big way.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, Williams and her band will perform live from the Shubert Theatre in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Though the performance will take place 160 miles away from Mount Gretna, it will help provide funds to 20 struggling theaters across the country. The Gretna Theatre is one of only two in Pennsylvania represented on the list; the other is the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Tickets for the performance are $30, and viewers will be able to stream the concert on demand in the 72 hours following the livestream. Click here to buy tickets.

Taking advantage of the livestream format, Williams will not only perform and tell stories about her songs, but also engage with fans in a live Q&A session.

"Normally, it would be a private performance in a theater, which is already wonderful," said during a virtual press conference for the event. "Now, this will be different because we'll be singing to an empty house, but the fact that we have this Q&A incorporated into the evening, it will allow the audience to see it virtually but also be involved in the night."

For the performance, Williams will draw from her deep discography, which ranges from her 1998 debut "The Right Stuff" to 2009's "The Real Thing." Williams promises an eclectic mix of Broadway, pop and jazz material, though the available material is admittedly hampered due to the fact that only six band members are able to be in the same performance space due to COVID-19 health regulations.

It was those same health regulations that prevented Williams from taking the West End stage in London earlier this year for a run of the stage show "City of Angels," though Williams also confirmed that that production is still in the works for when stages can open again.

"The message [of the show] is one of unity and commonality," said Williams.  "For example, when I sing 'The Sweetest Days' - which was written for my four children - you can relate to having a family and remembering how wonderful and intimate those days were when they were children and how you want to hang onto them."

Despite being mostly stuck at home along with everyone else, Williams has still managed to have a productive 2020. In April, her children's book, "Bubbles Kisses," released with a bonus CD. At the end of October, Williams starred as the villain in the Hulu horror comedy "Bad Hair" alongside Lena Waithe, Laverne Cox and Usher. And of course, who could forget her turn on "RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race" in May as a drag version of Dolly Parton?

Perhaps most exciting for fans of the multi-faceted performer, Williams let slip during the press conference that she is currently working on new material for an upcoming album. Williams cited guitar player Tom Misch and Texas trio Khruangbin as newer artists she's been digging into during quarantine for inspiration.

"I've been doing more than listening to my regular playlists that I play all the time," said Williams. "It helps me with working on the new album to figure out which direction I want to go. Right now, we're thinking bossa nova because I live Brazilian music, it's definitely a part of me. So, we're sort of collecting those songs right now."

As she plans for the future, Williams says that her focus remains on staying healthy and providing an outlet for both people struggling without live music, and the venues that aren't currently able to offer it.

"What's most rewarding for me is to move people, and a lot of people have been moved a lot of different ways in this pandemic," said Williams. "The ups, downs, lows and highs have been tremendous, but the common denominator that makes everyone feel great is music. I'm happy to bring my artistry to people as a distraction for the mayhem that has been 2020."

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