It wasn’t a concert. It was healing!
A Salute to Gospel was a collection of artists coming together for a celebration of Gospel music during Black History Month. Gospel music holds an important place in the heart and soul of African Americans. It is an expression of their faith and deeply rooted in the Black History in the Negros spirituals which worked as inspiration and coded messages of hope and freedom.
Gospelfest was presented by Senator James Sanders Jr. in conjunction with the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Senator Sanders became known for his free music concerts when he was a City Council member. Those free concerts included R&B stars past and present and were hugely popular. As a Senator, he has definitely stepped up his game with this first free concert.
The long line up of performers included soloists, gospel choirs, praise teams and even a gospel rapping duo. Whatever your flavor was, there was something for you.
The performance was held at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC). The venue was formerly the Dutch Reformed Church before being renovated into its current performance venue. For one spectacular evening, JPAC went back to its church roots.
The praise music reached high into the balcony with the standing (shouting) room only audience clapping, waving and taking part in the praise party. The concert showcased how Gospel music has certainly come a long way from its roots. But the old sounded just as good as new with artist blending them together to the delight of audience members.
Rap duo Forever and Ksalm brought a new flavor with rap and psalms laced with a powerful message to a contemporary beat.
Brother Al Smith, a staple in the community, showed that the old school gospel can meld well with the new school.
There wasn’t a single group in the lineup that had a misstep or off note. Each group managed to touch the audience in its own way. However, there were some standout performers of the evening.
The Christian Cultural Center Choir put a hurting on the evening with some foot stomping favorites. Voices of Victory had the distinction of coming at the end of long line of performers. Their high energy and strong vocals were complimented gloriously by the lead vocalist Richard Hartley. He appeared in his James Brown-ish gear and the groups’ high octane performance was ready to start the praise party over again. They mixed today’s chart topping music and brought it back to the old style hymn, in a way mama never sang. The audience was ready to go another two hours.
Senator Sanders noted that all of the performers received no stipend for their participation.