Benefit Concert featuring Grammy Award Winner Sylvia McNair

Grammy Award winner Sylvia McNair and Evanston native and opera star Nancy Gustafson will highlight “Celebration,” a benefit concert at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4, at Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

For more than 20 years, Gustafson has been performing at the annual concert that benefits Evanston-based Over the Rainbow Association. Founded in 1974, the non-profit provides independent living solutions and employment opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities. Gustafson’s brother, Rob, is a longtime resident of an Evanston apartment complex administered by Over the Rainbow.

Each fall, the popular opera singer encourages some of the world’s biggest opera stars to join her for the benefit concert at her alma mater. Taking a break from opera, the vocalists enjoy performing classical, contemporary, and popular selections, as well as holiday favorites.

This year’s ensemble will feature Grammy Award winner Sylvia McNair, along with stars Richard Leech, Paul LaRosa, Jonathan Beyers and Dominick Armstrong. World-acclaimed pianists Ted Taylor and Kristin Okerlund will accompany them.

To date, the Celebration concerts have raised more than $3.5 million to help Over the Rainbow continue its mission of providing accessible housing to adults with physical disabilities.

This year’s event will include the return performance of Nichole Goodman, an Over the Rainbow resident paralyzed from the waist down after an auto accident. Goodman, who lives in an Over the Rainbow apartment in Rockford, wowed last year’s crowd with a duet rendition of Bette Midler’s “The Rose” with performer Richard Leech. Newly engaged, she’s preparing to vacate her apartment soon for a new life. For Goodman, a return performance is her way of thanking the organization for its compassion and assistance.

To purchase tickets for the 2011 Celebration concert, call (847) 424-5604, or visit www.otrassn.org.