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And I'm telling you....Jennifer Holliday brings the holiday spirit to Ventura County

Jennifer Holliday is joining the New West Symphony for two festive concerts in Ventura County at the weekend
New West Symphony
Jennifer Holliday is joining the New West Symphony for two festive concerts in Ventura County at the weekend

The Broadway legend is appearing in two festive concerts.

It was the show-stopping ballad, And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going, that cemented Jennifer Holliday as a Broadway megastar when she was just 21 years old. It also earned her both a Tony and a Grammy Award.

"With a song like And I'm telling you I'm not going, I feel the pressure. But then I also feel great gratitude because this is a song that came from a play. And then here we are four decades later and all these generations singing that song," Holliday told KCLU.

She says singing the song as a young women had a different emotional connection to her than singing it decades later, aged 63.

"At that time I was a teenager growing into a young lady, not knowing anything about life really, or love. And then as you grow with your own love experiences, it takes on a different meaning each time," said Holliday.

"And then there have been times when I've been terribly lonely, then [singing] it takes on a different meaning of a loneliness, you know? And then there's times when I've had to sing it - which is the hardest time - when I've been incredibly happy and I'm like, I'm not begging no man about anything! I still try to make it new each time for the audience," she said.

The singer – who has performed with everyone from Barbra Streisand, to Paul Simon to Michael Jackson, will be headlining a holiday extravaganza concert with the New West Symphony, alongside the Los Robles Children’s Choir and dancers from State Street Ballet. It’s a rare West Coast appearance for the star.

"One of the great things about the symphony is strings. So to me, that's beautiful. But then you have all of these other instruments that make festive and bright," Holliday said.

Holliday has Multiple Sclerosis. And while the neanimorphic star shares the same vocal prowess as her Dreamgirls character Effie – she probably too shares some of her characteristics – like determination, which Holliday needed to overcome her health and mental health challenges.

"I suffered greatly with clinical depression, so there were many years performing and having no sense of joy at all. I have multiple sclerosis, so there was a while that I could not walk and I've been blind twice. I've been in remission now for seven years, so it doesn't affect me as much if I can keep my stress level down," said Holliday.

"I try to really focus on how to talk to my body to keep it calm, which is how I was able to walk again because they were telling me, 'You have to retire. You're not going to be able to walk'. Especially when I was blind, they were like, 'Well, you're not going to be able to see.' A doctor's job is just to give you their diagnosis. They can't specialize in hope...so you have to give your own self your own hope and go find your own inspiration...and that's what I did," she said.

Holidays with Jennifer Holliday will be at the Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks on Saturday and Rancho Campana Performing Arts Center in Camarillo on Sunday.

A pre-concert fundraising event on December 2nd in Thousand Oaks Bank of America Performing Arts Center (BAPAC) called Winterfest will benefit New West Symphony and its education programs. Ticket holders to this separate event will enjoy international food tastings in the decorated lobbies of BAPAC’s Kavli Theater from Romania, Ukraine, Mexico and China, plus Hanukkah desserts, and Yule Logs. There will be international live entertainment, Victorian Carolers, and a visit from Santa Claus.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.