Winnipeg Free Press
October 20, 2006
Lindsey Wiebe Hundreds of singers, including Canadian country
music superstar Paul Brandt, warmed up Thursday for this weekend's
Central Canada Franklin Graham Festival.
A thousand-voice choir is preparing to sing Friday, Saturday and
Sunday during the evangelical Christian event at the MTS Centre.
The massive choir is composed of singers recruited from the 200
Manitoba churches participating in the festival.
Although Brandt will perform at the festival independently and is
not scheduled to join the choir, he is with them in spirit -- the
Christian spirit, that is.
Brandt will perform Friday night at the festival, which is free.
The musical line-up over three days includes an A-list of Christian
performers, including Rebecca St. James, Casting Crown, Newsboys
and Michael W. Smith.
On Thursday, Brandt was visiting the Safeway on Dakota Street in
support of Operation Christmas Child, a project that sends gifts to
needy kids worldwide. The program is run by Samaritan's Purse, an
international Christian relief organization headed by Franklin
Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham.
The country crooner's performance might have surprised some
shoppers picking up a quick lunch at the St. Vital supermarket, but
not the hundreds of fans who heralded Brandt's appearance with
screams and camera flashes.
Roughly 300 people surrounded the tiny stage, tucked between the
produce department, checkout stands and floral counter, for a
half-hour performance. There were a few cowboy hats and plenty of
outstretched camera phones at Thursday's show. Customer service
clerk Diane Sinnock stood on the floral counter to get a better
"He's a very nice person, and this is a very nice cause," she
Between songs from his latest Christmas album, Brandt encouraged
his fans to support Operation Christmas Child, which collects shoe
boxes full of donated presents to send to children who might
otherwise not receive gifts.
Brandt rolled into town in a semi-trailer filled with 4,500 shoe
boxes, collected since his cross-Canada tour began.
"It's been wonderful," said Brandt. "Fans have come out in droves,
and been very supportive."
The musician said he learned about Christmas Child two and a half
years ago, and has traveled to Cambodia to help deliver the shoe
Brandt said he was thrilled to be part of the event.
"I have heard Franklin Graham before, and I really support his
message," said Brandt. "I'm very pleased to be a part of it."
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada