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Church sees New Year's Eve show as start of a tradition

Immanuel Baptist Church might have made the question "What are you doing New Year's Eve?" easier to answer for some Christian music fans.

Chart-topping Christian pop artist Britt Nicole, right, will be on stage at the church to help ring in the new year and say goodbye to the aughts.

The New Year's Eve bash was the brainstorm of Josh Hawk, Immanuel's pastor of students and families. He says working with an organization called Student Life, starting when he was attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, oriented him to presenting big events. When he was the student pastor at Calvary in Savannah, Ga., he brought in artists such as Jeremy Camp and Rebecca St. James.

So, when he came to Immanuel, he wanted to do the same sorts of things.

"We wanted to do a big 'New Year's Eve rocks' kind of thing," Hawk says. "So we said, let's do it right the first time."

Hawk says he actually had Nicole in mind when he called a booking agent he had gotten to know but thought he wouldn't be able to get her. He quickly found out the price was right.

"I was looking for someone who's a rising star, and I saw her a few years ago at a New Year's event called 'Extreme' in Gatlinburg, and I knew she was a great performer," Hawk says.

Nicole released her second album, The Lost Get Found, this fall and had a No. 1 hit with the title track.

She debuted in 2007 with Say It, which introduced her as a hip, 21st-century young woman who could easily navigate a dance track. The new album continues in the same vein, softening the edges a bit.

Hawk thinks Nicole is poised to follow in the footsteps of Christian pop star Rebecca St. James.

Now, New Year's Eve is not a typical concert night. Midnight is the focal point for the evening.

Hawk says that openers MikesChair will play at 8:30 p.m., take a break and come back to lead worship before Hawk delivers a talk.

"We do want a message to be part of the evening," Hawk says.

Then Nicole will take the stage about 10:30 and play until it's time to ring in the new year.

"We'll be tuned into Times Square and the ball dropping," Hawk says.

Then Nicole will play a few more tunes to start 2010.

2010 will include more marquee artists coming to Immanuel, including Echoing Angels on Jan. 11 and worship leaders Bluetree, which will play at morning worship Feb. 21 and return to perform later that day.

Go ahead and mark your calendars for Dec. 31, 2010, as Hawk says the New Year's Eve bash "is something we envision as becoming a much bigger thing over the next couple of years."

Ichthus price drop

While you're looking ahead to 2010, you might want to start thinking about Ichthus tickets. The prices, down 20 percent, will take you back to the middle-aughts.

Through Jan. 31, full-weekend tickets will be $69 for adults and $34 for ages 7 to 10.

Acts already announced for Ichthus 2010, June 16 to 19, include Casting Crowns, Red, Skillet, Devil Wears Prada and Newsboys.

For tickets, visit www.ichthusfestival.org or call (859) 858-3001, Ext.110.

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