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Vocal groups will be in spotlight at 2015 Gospelfest


The emphasis will be on group singing when the 2015 edition of the McDonald’s Gospelfest, subtitled, “When the Choir Meets the Quartet,” takes place at the Prudential Center in Newark, May 9 (the Saturday of Mother’s Day Weekend). The lineup for the evening portion of the event will include Bishop Hezekiah Walker & LFC, Ricky Dillard & New G, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Mississippi Mass Choir, The Thompson Community Reunion Choir, The Greater Allen AME Cathedral Mass Choir, Doc McKenzie & The Hi-Lites and The Clark Sisters. In the afternoon, aspiring artists will compete in the contest portion of the show, in categories such as Soloists, Youth Choir, Adult Choir, Praise Dance, Step, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. Gospelfest, New Jersey’s biggest annual gospel event, originated in 1983, and has been taking place at the Prudential Center for the last eight years. This year’s show, titled “Women Who Worship,” featured female vocalists, including Shirley Caesar, Cissy Houston, Tramaine Hawkins, Dottie Peoples and Dorothy Norwood. Continue Reading →

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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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Prudential Center to host inspirational ‘Brick City Christmas’ event

Here’s an early Christmas present for music fans: The team behind Gospelfest, the devotional music extravaganza held at the Prudential Center right around Mother’s Day every year, will be mounting a holiday concert this year. A Brick City Christmas won’t be as long as Gospelfest, which begins with regional choirs in the early afternoon and concludes around midnight with legends of church music, but organizer A. Curtis Farrow is promising to fill Prudential with choirs, preachers, dancers and soloists. Farrow has already booked two Gospelfest favorites to appear — Cissy Houston is scheduled to sing Christmas carols with a massive choir, and T.D. Jakes will open the show with an inspirational address. A Brick City Christmas comes to the Newark arena on Dec. 13, and tickets for the event are currently on sale. Continue Reading →

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