MINNEAPOLIS – When Shaun Johnson, Emmy Award winner and lead vocalist of the a cappella quartet Tonic Sol-fa and the Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience, first envisioned a one-of-a-kind concert tour for the 2020 holiday season, the name was obvious: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Since more concertgoers would definitely be home for the holidays, Johnson and his bandmates developed an unexpected solution to audience restrictions and theater closures in communities across America – an entire series of virtual, customized concerts.
In the heat and humidity of July, Johnson recorded a catalog of songs as well as 160 distinctive introductions for tour-stop communities – no two shows will be the same, despite being virtual and pre-recorded. With only 200 “pay what you will” tickets per city (and several sites already sold out), the concert experience is tailored to each stop, sharing favorite memories of previous visits, adding special guests and brand new songs, utilizing interactive Q&A, as well as encouraging support for local theaters and nonprofits…in short, to be as close to an actual tour as might be possible within the ever changing musical landscape of 2020.
“To pull this off, we knew we’d have to coordinate with charitable organizations, multiple theaters, sponsors, media platforms and above all, explain the concept to our fans. But our holiday tour is one of the most substantial and personal tours we do. We’ve always put every detail together on our own, without agents or managers – it’s literally our baby, and I knew we could not take a year off,” said Johnson, whose big band recently reached the Billboard Top 5 for the first time. “We felt like livestreaming from someone’s living room had run its course, and we hoped to deliver a more inventive holiday experience for the amazing fans and music lovers who’ve supported us over the years, so we decided to save Christmas in our own small way.”
“This never-before-seen virtual concert special is truly much more than a livestream. We carefully curated each event for the host city, theater and local community,” Johnson added. “I’ve had musicians from across the U.S. getting in touch with the same questions, ‘How exactly are you pulling off a virtual tour?’ and ‘Can you help us do the same?’ We think it’s a safe and unique way to share the music we love with the communities we’ve connected with for so many years.”