Christian Music’s Stars Joined for First Time by Youth With ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ as Disney’s Night of Joy Expands

Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Nicole C. Mullen, Steven Curtis Chapman Top 21-Act Lineup for 23rd Edition of Magic Kingdom Event Sept. 9-10

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Aug. 29 /PRNewswire/ — Some of Christian music’s most recognized and highly acclaimed stars will share the stage with young singers with “stars in their eyes” at the place where dreams come true when the 23rd annual edition of Night of Joy unfolds Sept. 9-10 in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.

The mega talents will be there, for sure — Christian music’s reigning group of the year (Casting Crowns), its reigning female vocalist of the year (Nicole C. Mullen), its 2004 artist of the year (MercyMe) and its most-often honored performer (Steven Curtis Chapman) among them.

But among the big-name Christian acts will be four sisters from Seattle, Wash., who call themselves Witherspoon. And 27 youngsters from Chicago’s Evangel Assembly of God. Those two Christian singing acts caught the ears of talent scouts to become part of an innovative expansion of Disney’s long- running Christian event that this year will feature 21 acts and 28 performances over two nights.

Witherspoon was chosen as the first ever “Night of Joy, Best of Show” award winner by representatives of Walt Disney World Resort at the annual Gospel Music Association (GMA) talent competition at Music in the Rockies earlier this month in Estes Park, Colo.

Walt Disney World Entertainment sent two judges to Music in the Rockies where they participated on a panel of judges at various performances and competitions during the week, eventually choosing Witherspoon as their award winner. Erica, Krista, Tasha and Tamara, the four sisters who make up Witherspoon, also garnered several other performing and songwriting awards at Music in the Rockies, including the Spotlight 2005 Overall Grand Prize honor.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away in Chicago, the Kellogg’s Gospel Sing Off Youth Choir Competition reached the moment of decision. With a stirring rendition of Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day” and gospel classic “Lift Him Up,” the Evangel Assembly of God choir blew the doors off historic Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church — and bested a talented field of 28 gospel youth choirs from around the country.

Their grand prize included $10,000 plus the privilege of screaming, “We’re going to Walt Disney World!” — where they will perform with GMA Dove Award winner Kierra “Kiki” Sheard at Night of Joy.

Night of Joy is a special-ticket event that begins each evening after regular theme park hours.

The just-announced show schedule will kick off each evening at 7:30 p.m. with two of Contemporary Christian Music’s top acts — Audio Adrenaline on Sept. 9 and tobyMac on Sept. 10.

Other top-name Christian music talent on the bill (in addition to Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns, MercyMe and Nicole C. Mullins) includes CeCe Winans, Newsboys, Donnie McClurkin, Mark Schultz, Matthew West, Tree 63, Big Daddy Weave, SuperChic[k], Kutless, Stellar Kart, Further Seems Forever and Vicky Beeching.

In anticipation of the Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media’s upcoming Christmas film release, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” Night of Joy 2005 will give guests a look inside the making of the movie and one of the movie’s soundtracks:

* Several artists will debut live performances of music inspired by the film that will be part of the EMI CMG release Music Inspired By: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (available Sept. 27). Five-time Grammy Award-winner Steven Curtis Chapman leads the pack with the project’s debut single, “Remembering You.” Fellow Night of Joy performers tobyMac and Kutless also provide songs for the Inspirational soundtrack.

* Night of Joy 2005 also will feature an “information station” for the movie, where guests can get updates about the movie, watch behind-the-scenes footage and “sneak peek” movie clips, and preview Buena Vista Games console games inspired by the movie.

* Each Night of Joy guest will receive a complimentary CD featuring select Night of Joy artists, along with a bonus track “The Chronicles of Narnia — Audio Magazine” and an “Official Narnia Passport” with special information on the movie.

Single-night tickets are $42.95 plus tax. Two-night tickets are $61.95 plus tax. (Guests can save $5 on single-night tickets by purchasing them in advance at Family Christian Stores and other select Christian bookstores in Florida or by calling 407/W-DISNEY.) For more information, guests can go online and check out .

Walt Disney World Resort has presented Night of Joy annually since 1983. More than 100 Christian music artists have performed before a combined audience of more than 800,000 people in Magic Kingdom.


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