Angela and Jim Manfredonia will entertain with song standards alongside a live big band Sept. 24 in the theater of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville. Courtesy photo
Angela and Jim Manfredonia will entertain with song standards alongside a live big band Sept. 24 in the theater of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville. Courtesy photo
Catholic fans of music by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland are in for a treat this September – and a unique opportunity to support local Catholic media.

Jim Manfredonia, co-founder of Domestic Church Media in Ewing, and his daughter, Angela, will take to the Notre Dame High School stage at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in Lawrenceville and treat audiences to DCM’s first benefit concert, featuring selections from the Great American Songbook and accompanied by the 19-piece Summer Swing Orchestra.

The Catholic media apostolate provides a variety of both local and EWTN programming, including the Daily Mass broadcast, syndicated shows like “The Doctor is In” with Dr. Ray Guarendi and “Catholic Answers LIVE,” as well as “The Shepherd’s Voice” – a monthly radio program featuring Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

“Bitten by the performing bug” 50 years ago, Manfredonia is returning to his roots for the concert, singing the music that captivated him as a junior in high school; when all his peers “were going to see Billy Joel, Elton John and David Bowie … I was going to Atlantic City to see Frank Sinatra.”

The benefit concert idea had been gathering ground for years, with support and encouragement from listeners of DCM’s radio stations and social media streaming platforms, as well as its board of directors.

“Even though I’ve been performing for so many years, I was always a little nervous about doing it, so I kept brushing it off,” said Manfredonia, a Catholic radio host for more than 25 years, which includes his “Come to Me” and “Friday LIVE” programs. “My first love is my vocation in media evangelization … and I’m so thankful to Almighty God for entrusting this work to my stewardship. But he has also given me a talent for singing … I have to use all the talents God has given me.”

Angela, too, has the musical pipes to sing hits by Garland and Liza Minnelli, and has performed at other venues with her father.

Wanting to ensure an immersive and fulfilling experience, Manfredonia sought out a live band before concert plans took root. After researching, he settled on the Summer Swing Orchestra based out of Flemington and was “very impressed with their sound … they’re exactly the type of band that can play this type of music and play it well.”

Accompanying him on piano for a few pieces for the benefit concert will be Jim’s wife Cheryl Manfredonia, a pastoral musician and organist for more than 30 years and who currently serves as director of sacred music in St. Magdalen de Pazzi Parish, Flemington.

“I sang [Sinatra’s] music in small clubs in New Jersey in the 70s and 80s, just me and a piano player; that’s how I met Cheryl,” Jim reminisced. After his regular accompanist announced a plan to move, he placed an ad in the paper, “and Cheryl, who is a very accomplished pianist, answered the ad. And the rest, as they say, is history.”

Manfredonia was delighted to discover, after searching for possible venues, to learn that the NDHS theater was available for outside events. The professional theater of graduated, cushioned seating is conveniently located for most of DCM’s coverage area, and seats 1,000.

“I must say, from the school president Ken Jennings to members of the theater department, they have all been so wonderfully accommodating and helpful,” he acknowledged

All proceeds will support DCM’s operating costs, which run upwards of $25,000 per month.

“As non-commercial stations, we are totally listener-supported,” Manfredonia noted. “We can’t sell advertising time; we count completely on the generosity of our listeners and benefactors.” The concert, he hopes, will help supplement operations in the fall and into next spring; the annual Spring Radiothon, which ran this past April, raised $150,000 – enough to cover half a year.

“After over two years of separation, isolation and sadly, even division, I think this will be an excellent opportunity for people to come together, escape the troubles and worries of the world for a few hours, and be brought back to simpler, innocent times of good, clean, fun entertainment,” Manfredonia said. “And at the same time, they’ll be supporting the great mission of Catholic media evangelization.”