Trussville couple brings former Huntsville event to Birmingham
By June Mathews
TRUSSVILLE — Brice Marsh clearly recalls the distaste he experienced several years ago when retail establishments started selling holiday trees as opposed to Christmas trees, and clerks were instructed to refrain from wishing customers a Merry Christmas.
“All you could see and hear was ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Season’s Greetings,’” he said.
But during a November 2004 trip to Branson, Mo., with friends, Marsh and then wife, Mary Ellen, found inspiration for counteracting a movement they considered an affront to their Christian faith.
“We were amazed and thrilled at the bold proclamation of ‘Merry Christmas’ and at the cheerful public celebration of the birth of Christ everywhere we went,” Marsh said. “In the Moon River Theatre, Andy Williams even shared his Christian testimony to a standing ovation in a packed house.”
So on the ride from Branson back to their home in Huntsville, the Marshes and their friends prayed and brainstormed about what they could to do make a difference. From that discussion, a Keep Christmas Alive committee composed of business and church friends was born, and for seven years, Marsh served as the executive producer of an annual gospel star-studded KCA program at Huntsville’s Von Braun Concert Hall.
In the meantime, Mary Ellen developed diabetes and a serious liver condition, and required treatment at Kirklin Clinic in Birmingham. As her condition worsened, Marsh decided to retire, and the couple relocated to Trussville, a move that would allow them to quickly travel to UAB, should an opportunity for a liver transplant arise.
But Mary Ellen passed away before a transplant could be done, and Marsh was left to cope with his grief and loneliness. As he began to recover from the loss and seek out new companionship, he heard about a website called ChristianMingle.com and decided to give it a try.
Enter Leigh White, a Texas belle Marsh met online “whose beautiful eyes and fetching smile captivated me, and her profile sounded like it was written just for my specifications,” he said.
Not long after they finally met in person, Marsh, who previously had no intention of remarrying, proposed. White accepted, and the two were married in 2011.
“Leigh left her career, church, family and friends in Texas to move and make her new home with me in Trussville,” he said, “and we have a wonderful blended family. Her grandchildren call me Grandpa, and grandchildren call her Mimi.”
Their union gave new life to the KCA effort.
“Not only do Leigh and I share spiritual and political views, we share musical interests as well, including many longtime acquaintances in the gospel music field,” Marsh said. “So after praying and seeking God’s will, we decided to re-launch KCA with the eighth annual program taking place in Birmingham.”
Scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. at Samford University’s Wright Center, the concert will kick off with a 30-minute pre-show at 1:30 p.m.
The program includes The Booth Brothers, The Voices of Lee University from Cleveland, Tenn., Bob Smith (also serving as master of ceremonies), Redemption Road Quartet, pianist Frank Jones, radio and TV personality Edie Hand, and soloist Austin Foster.
Tickets are $25 to $35 with discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Church groups are encouraged to order tickets early for the best seating. For more information, contact the Wright Center Ticket Office at tickets.samford.edu or call 205-726-2853. For more details and sound bites, visit www.KeepChristmasAlive.org or www.kca.cc.
A nonprofit event, this year’s KCA will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Children’s of Alabama.
“Since we started this annual program…it has grown and improved each year, but we remain committed to our original mission of reclaiming Christmas, proclaiming the birth of Christ and proving that old-fashioned traditional sacred Christmas music can be joyful, festive and fun for the entire family,” Marsh said. “People who have been to Branson and Pigeon Forge tell me our program is even better – and it’s right here in Alabama.”