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Shows of the week: Fred Hammond and Donnie McClurkin, Thomas Wesley Stern, Billy Hector, Onyx

A church it is not, but over the past 12 months, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark has hosted a run of astoundingly good gospel performances. Last October, Kirk Franklin presented a fierce, funny, high-energy set of devotional music that, when the star sat at the piano, felt reassuringly traditional. That show was followed by a gospel revue curated by Bishop Hezekiah Walker that featured a mid-evening appearance by Camden’s Tye Tribbett, a musical polymath whose band finds the middle ground between Weather Report and the Black Eyed Peas. Franklin and Walker are both members of the first generation of gospel artists who had to reconcile church music with the ascendance of hip-hop — and so are Fred Hammond and Donnie McClurkin, who will co-headline at NJPAC on Friday night. Both singers are on the far side of 50, and both are modernizers who have nevertheless remained faithful to inspirational music. Continue Reading →

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