Christmas can be merry -- but it can also be blue, and this contrast was on beautiful display at a recent musical fundraiser for the Point Foundation, The Gift of Song.
Ammo Music Management, which represents an array of diverse artists, showcased this talent at the Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Angeles earlier this month, in support of LGBT scholars.
Headliners Brandon Stansell, Isabelle, Mario Jose, and Jeslyn -- as well as special guests Vincint, Matt Bloyd, India Carney, Rayvon Owen, Stephanie Mabey, Ryan Amador, and Sophia Dion -- sang both classic hits and original songs, which traversed the spectrum of holiday highs and lows.
Jose, Bloyd, and Vincint reminded the audience of the reason for the season with "The First Noel." Isabelle rocked the house down with "All I Want for Christmas Is You." Stansell brought tears to every eye with his "Winter Song."
And some of the singers, in light of the worthy cause they were supporting, opened up about their own stories.
Stansell recounted a holiday interaction with his mother, in which he admonished her for not knowing he was gay, due to his ardent love of The Golden Girls. "I don't know, are they gay?" she replied, according to the out country singer, to the laughter of the crowd.
"I consider myself to be a well-adjusted human being these days -- after many therapists who enjoyed a challenge," he joked. "But it's so funny, this time of year, it is hard for some reason."
However, Stansell pointed to the holidays as a unique opportunity to engage with family members on issues like LGBT identity. "They are reflective naturally because it's the end of the year. And I also think they're open to conversations that they may not have been willing to have thoughout the year," he said. "It makes me very hopeful -- just for me and my situation, but really for everyone."
"I think that's one of the most beautiful things about this time of year," he said.
The evening concluded with a joyous group number, "Celebrate Me Home," in which the audience joined in as part of the chorus. Beforehand, Jose thanked Ammo's CEO, Ryan Aceto, for organizing the fundraiser as well as fostering a supportive environment for artists.
"This business is cutthroat," Jose said of the Los Angeles music industry. But, "by building each other up and being there and supporting each other in all of their musical endeavors and life, it is proven to be one of the best cities in planet Earth."
After all, the goal of music is to "bring a little bit of that Christmas joy throughout the entire year," he concluded.
Below, watch Jose, Bloyd, and Vincint sing "The First Noel."