The excitement was palpable crossing the threshold of Austin's newest jazz club, the Brass House. Could this year's event top last year's mega-headliners Johnathan McReynolds and Anita Wilson? Last night, the questions were soon answered, doubts put to rest and the crowd brought to its feet with hands in the air from the first set all the way to the last set, which ended early Monday morning.
Kells Johnson kicked off the Sunday night showcase with his smash "Painfully in Love" and 'painlessly' set the tone for one of the best night's of music in Austin. One of the concert goers even remarked about the evening "...we don't get this much in Austin, much!"
The evening progressed quickly as Zie'l took the stage and shook the Brass House and San Jacinto Boulevard. The trio sang their chart topping cover of the Clark Sisters' classics "Is My Living in Vain?" "Nothing to Lose" and introduced a new song from their forthcoming project entitled "State of Emergency". You can hear their newest single "Redeemed" (produced by Jamien "J-Skills" Thompson) on SoulProsper Radio beginning this week.
Sunday Best Season 1 winner Crystal Aikin was on hand and her powerhouse vocals proved that for her, the best is still yet to come. Performing hits from her first album "I Desire More" and "Lord You Reign Forever" with other songs; her set ended with the crowd poised for her new album, due out soon.
Gary Mayes and Nu Era ushered in a sound of worship that billowed out of the Brass House and into the streets of Austin. The set included music from the group and an intense moment of exhortation from Mayes. The set concluded with a ballad a kin to an altar call entitled "Dear God, you win!" With that, Mayes and Nu Era charged the atmosphere and was the perfect primer for Dallas darling Candy West.
Fresh off a weekend that included time with Myron Butler at T. D. Jakes' Pastors and Leadership Conference last week in Florida, West flew in to SXSW with a whirlwind of energy! West began her set with "Great and Mighty is He" and after minutes of testifying simply flowed with the backing band and singers. With this spontaneous worship, West proceeded to bring the night to it's true zenith, and the gospel portion of the night to a close.
The night was sponsored in part by 96.3 FM in Austin, Movement 50,Harmony Soul Interactive, KeeAtive Designs, YaLife, SXSW Interactive and the Gospel Music Insight Blog.
Special thanks to Rachel, Keemon, James and Naomi for facilitating coverage of this event.