Crowds gather as early as 5 p.m at Ebenezer A.ME. Church in Fort Washington, Md. to enjoy the eighth annual McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour (IGCT) on Friday, May 23. According to reports tickets for the free concert featuring host Erica Campbell, comedian Jonathan Slocumb, Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers, Anthony Brown & group therAPy, Moses Tyson, Jr., The Mississippi Mass Choir and Uncle Reece were grabbed up the first day they became available.
Praise 104.1's Lonnie Hunter opened the show and greeted the audience, followed by the opening prayer by Byron Cage. From there, things kicked into high gear. The tour is always an exciting and spirit-filled time, however, this year IGCT seemed to outdo itself. The show opened with the Mississippi Mass Choir hitting the stage, followed shortly thereafter by each performer. It was a tour de force in showmanship and gave the packed house a satisfying glimpse of what lay ahead.
The Mississippi Mass Choir performed their latest single, 'God's On Your Side' as well as some familiar songs. Their performance hit its crescendo when Mosie 'Mama' Burks hit the stage and sang the classic hit, "They Got the Word." The spry 80-year-old delivered the song with passion and all the vim and vigor of someone decades younger. She even managed a holy ghost strut.
Host Erica Campbell, who is enjoying her seventh week at No. 1 on the gospel charts, wowed the crowd with her hits, "I Need A Little More Jesus" and "Help" with the vocal brilliance fans have come to expect.
Hip-hop artist Uncle Reece was a human dynamo commanding the stage as he went "hard in the paint" with his single, "Until I Pass Out." He moved the crowd with the plaintive, heart-wrenching, "He Died and He Rose," becoming a human video of Christ's sacrifice. Moses Tyson, Jr. organist extraordinaire, held the capacity crowd spellbound as he demonstrated why he is one of the greatest organists of all time. Tyson and the organ appeared to operate in a symbiotic fashion, creating a musical synergy that was both fascinating and ethereal.
Sprinkled throughout the night were the hilarious jokes of Jonathan Slocumb. The comedian kept the audiences reeling with laughter with his take on church and church life. He even poked good-natured fun at McDonalds turning his desire for a late night meal into a gospel song.
Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr singers sang many of their most popular hits that had the crowd singing along. The set included performances from Lorraine Stancil and Kathy Taylor. The young son of Timoney Figueroa served as a background singer and lit up the stage with his vocals with Carr. One of the more touching moments came when Carr gave his testimony about spending time with his mother before she passed away.
Anthony Brown & group therAPy showcase vocal agility
Amidst of all the wonderful performances, the night was a vocal fest for Anthony Brown & group therAPy. The DMV-based group that captivated the industry with their self-titled debut album brought their best to the hometown crowd. The significance of the evening was not lost on Brown as he engaged the crowd and even gave a shout-out to beloved Praise 104.1 personality Cheryl Jackson.
Every song was exceptional. The group, filled with Morgan State University music alumni, seamlessly moved from satisfying the more mature listeners with stylized renditions of hymns to delivering songs from their award-winning album, including "Water" and "Do It Again." No group therAPy performance is complete without their version of the Richard Smallwood-penned "Total Praise." The song showcased the group's musicality as they ably delivered one of the most intricate worship songs. They capped things off with an electrifying performance of their chart-busting hit "Testimony." This powerful group is certainly destined to be one of the faces of the next iteration of highly skilled vocal ensembles.
Tour set to hit other cities
This year's tour will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the best. The diversity of genres and caliber of performances have made IGCT an experience worthy of remembrance. There are still opportunities to catch the McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour in one of the remaining cities. The tour hits Charlotte, N.C. on June 5.
All Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour concerts are free of charge, but tickets are required. Visit www.365Black.com for complete tour dates and to obtain tickets.
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