Virtual Holiday Concert Gives Needed Warm Holiday Hug

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, filled with candy canes, special gifts, and Christmas concerts. But as with most things in 2020, the annual Gospel Carols found a unique way to deliver holiday spirit with a twist!

Leotha and Tamera Stanley presented a special virtual event for audiences near and far on Dec. 18, 2020. The jubilant evening of gospel and holiday songs was pre-recorded with the renowned Mt. Zion Gospel Choir Ensemble. In its 11th year, the evening of music still inspired warmth, joy and peace.

“Here it is 2020, and who thought we’d be virtual?” Leotha Stanley asked. “Well, the good thing about that is we have a worldwide audience now.”

Leotha Stanley, who has been a musical director much of his adult life, considers gospel music his first love.  He began playing piano and drums at age 5 and became the pianist at his neighborhood church in Milwaukee by the time he was 13. As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he founded a gospel choir, which became his path to Mt. Zion.

A former Madison firefighter and paramedic, a composer, and author of children’s books, among other things, Stanley turned his full attention to music in 2000. Now, with his wife by his side, the couple began composing concerts nearly 20 years ago when the Mt. Zion Choir accepted an invitation to perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert at the Overture Center for the Arts. The appearance became a fan favorite, often bringing audiences to their feet in rousing standing ovations.

The concert grew in popularity resulting in last year’s Gospel Carols to be held at the Alliant Energy Center. Event goers are treated to traditional holiday carols with a soulful flavor.

“As we reflect on how drastic our lives have changed over the past 10 months our desire for you this evening is that we remind you of the love and the joy, the peace and the hope that this season brings,” Tamera Stanley said just before this season’s concert kicked off. “Our prayer is that you enjoy the gift of music that God has given to us to share with you.”

To support the Stanleys and donate to the Gospel Carols, visit