Sacred Concert Series 2023/24
The Sacred Concert Series at Grace Church on the Hill aspires to elevate and enrich its audience through a series of six diverse acoustic music concerts in our renowned acoustic space. Our aim is to curate groups that possess unique and remarkable acoustic qualities and to offer a captivating auditory experience. Additionally, we are committed to making a positive impact by supporting various charities at each concert, aligning with the intentions and prayers of our community at Grace Church on the Hill. Concerts are accessible, include an opening reception with refreshments, and feature a meet and greet with the artists.
Meet the Artists:
The Tiny Guitars Program at Grace Church on-the-Hill
Led by Nathan Hiltz, Tiny Guitars is a free music program at Grace where children and adults learn guitar at beginner and intermediate levels.
The Grace Church on-the-Hill Children's Choir
Choirs for young people teach teamwork, music, friendship, and are just a lot of fun! Ours are amazing - come hear them or join in. Led by Sarah Hicks, private lessons, scholarships, concerts, touring, and community are just a few of the benefits of being part of our choirs for young people. Many young people use their choir involvement towards the community service hours their high schools require. Many of our choristers have been part of this community for many years – a true testament to how wonderful the choice experience is at Grace! All ages, all skill levels. All Grace.
Richard Underhill Richard Underhill’s warm alto sound, great writing and arranging skills and in-from-the-outside soloing make him one of Canada’s most distinctive jazz performers. His new project is 'Free Spirit', a critically acclaimed Live DVD/Studio CD set that features Lincoln Center Jazz trombonist Ron Westray and some of Toronto’s finest jazz players.
Richard was awarded the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition in 2008 for his contribution to Toronto musical and artistic community. He won a 2003 Juno Award for his jazz debut 'Tales from the Blue Lounge' and was nominated for the Prix du Jazz at the 2003 Montreal Jazz Festival. His debut video ‘The Old Guys’ climbed to No.1 on the Bravo! video chart and won a 2004 SOCAN Number 1 award. His latest album 'Kensington Suite' has garnered significant critical acclaim and was nominated for a 2008 Juno Award and his 2nd album 'Moment in Time' was also nominated for a Juno Award in 2007.
He leads several diverse groups including his jazz quintet, the Funk Explosion, The Kensington Horns Community Band, and the improvising electronic groove ensemble Astrogroove. He has been musical director for the Kensington Festival of Lights since 2003 and currently sits on the Music Committee at the Toronto Arts Council and on the board of directors of Clay and Paper Theatre.
The founding member of Toronto's outrageous Sun Ra influenced Shuffle Demons, Underhill took this ground breaking Bop Rap ensemble from the streets of Toronto across Canada and to Europe. The Shuffle Demons feature a fusion of hard bop and rap combined with exotic costumes and a no-holds-barred performance style. They recently celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a cross Canada tour and in 2006 performed at festivals in India, China and Europe.
Queen Pepper is the complete package; She is a vocal powerhouse, accomplished songwriter and she graces the stage with a spellbinding magnetic pull.
Queen Pepper’s penchant for music should come as no surprise, given her family background. Like so many great R&B and Jazz artists, the Toronto-based vocalist grew up singing in the church. "Music is in my family, and singing in church was my foundation," she explains.
Her vocal ability was apparent from an early age, and as a young teenager, she toured through Mexico, Hawaii and California. At that point, Queen Pepper didn’t think she would pursue music as a full-time career, "it was something fun, and I thought I was good at it". It wasn’t until after she followed other interests and tried a few different career paths that she felt an undeniable tug at her heart. With a yearning in her soul, Queen Pepper knew there was something else for her. She went on to finish a degree in Jazz, and began singing in the downtown clubs of Toronto, melding her love of old Soul, R&B with Jazz. Queen Pepper has graced many festival stages , including, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, TD Beaches Festival, Jazz on the Mountain, she has also joined the Hamilton Symphonic Orchestra alongside the Toronto Mass Choir.
Soon Queen Pepper was signed to indie label, Rocket Fuel Records, Inc. Gathering support of a strong team, Queen Pepper embarked on creating her newest project, which is launched with her first single "One Step Closer To Home" and full length album "True Stories, Vol.1".
Melissa Lauren With a boundless, soaring voice and musical vision to match, Toronto-based songwriter Melissa Lauren is that rarest of performers, one as comfortable in jazz as in pop, as well as the space where the two genres converge. Whether covering a classic or elevating an original, Lauren never fails to locate a song’s emotional core. Her captivating third album, My Voice — produced by ace multi-instrumentalist Tyler Emond (Tyler Shaw, Alessia Cara, Matt Dusk) — finds Lauren exploring the human voice; it’s barriers, triumphs, inequities between voices, and how we can help amplify each other, via 11 songs perfectly reflecting the times. The album has recieved international airplay, playlisting, and accolades. The third single released, a heart-wrenching version of Jann Arden's "Insensitive", was featured on CBC Radio's 'Under the Covers.' Rendering songwriting nominations in the International Songwriting Competition, and Unsigned Only, “ the album builds on Lauren’s extensive career both as a solo artist and collaborator with a diverse range of performers, from the Toronto All Star Big Band while still a teenager to co-writes with Juno award winning Ernesto Cervini, Steven Taetz, and Montreal electronic producer Hibernate. Melissa celebrated the release of My VoIce with a North America. he throughline is Lauren’s electrifying voice and engaging performance style, which has thrilled audiences across North America and around the world.
Donovan Locke is a jazz vocalist and entertainer who passionate about performing and inspiring others by ensuring honest and fun performance. Donovan believes that an audience will always respond to an honest performance.
Donovan has the performed at many venues across the city of Toronto including Drom Taberna, The Emmet Ray, Cafe Pamenar, The Cameron house, Function bar, La Pallette, Jazz Bistro, and the Communists Daughter. Currently he is working as an elementary school music teacher with the Peel district school board.
Donovan has studied the tuba at Wilfred Laurier university where he earned a BA in arts and at Nipissing University where he earned his bachelor of education.
When he is not performing or teaching, Donovan can be found listening to records, curling, or practicing his brand new tenor banjo.