"I can't wait til' next year..." That's what concertgoers said as they exited the sanctuary at the conclusion of the 1st Gospel+Soul Showcase. Last Friday in Austin, gospel music made its entrance on the scene at South by Southwest. Making its mark on the landscape of one of the country’s premiere arts festivals, gospel music made an unprecedented impact on music lovers at the festival. Ms. Anita Wilson was the headlining act and not only did she rock the Gospel+Soul Showcase, she shared the stage at other SXSW venues and brought the gospel to crowds that may not have been expecting it!
Her song “Jesus Will” ended the evening at the Central Presbyterian Church on the corner of 8th Street and Brazos and the echoes of the momentous concert poured out into the streets of Austin’s open air event and concert series. The showcase was free to all attendees and the house was packed. A crowd eagerly awaited the doors being opened and when they did, the best seats were taken within minutes.
The power packed event flowed as harmonious worship billowed out the opened front doors of the church. Inside the sanctuary was a lineup that far exceeded the free admission. Natori Blue and Chris Spivey (Nu Destiny) represented Austin’s rich gospel music scene as opening acts and set the tone for this fabulous concert!
After the Austin portion of the showcase, Chicago was featured. Jonathan McReynolds and Anita Wilson who hail from the “Windy City” brought the crowd to their feet during the majority of their respective sets. McReynolds is without rival, and is by far one of the most innovative singers/musicians in the country. McReynolds is a young man with a gift that reaches all age ranges.
When McReynolds took his set “to church”, the crowd went right with him with no hesitation. His set was partly acoustic; the gifted musician plays a variety of instruments but played guitar during Friday’s set. Once Anita Wilson took the stage, she gave the eager Austin crowd a variety of reasons to listen to her complete album. Wilson’s set consisted of “All About You”, “It’s Done”, “Speechless” (her slow jam for God) and finally “Jesus Will”. By the time Wilson’s set finished, the entire church was on its feet, including those in the balcony!
The evening was without a host/MC but each preceding act introduced the proceeding act which really showcased a level of fellowship among the artists. You don’t see that much and you certainly don’t see such a smooth flowing concert filled with all the artistry and genuine worship the Gospel+Soul Showcase featured.
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Completing Anita Wilson's band trio were two local musicians: Aaron Henry on drums and Nick Clark on bass(currently residing in Austin.) Paired with musician extraordinaire Rick Robinson, these two held down her signature sound!
The camaraderie amongst the artists before during and after the showcase was in a word, impressive. If you attended the King’s Men concert tour last fall, you know this experience well. No competition, just collaboration amongst a conglomeration of worshippers!
Hats off to EMI Gospel, Harmony Soul Entertainment Group, KRL Agency, Ya Life Entertainment and White Glove Photos for this phenomenal concert! Next year a promise to be even greater than this year’s, planning is already in the works for bigger artists and even a bigger stage. Stay tuned for details as they become available!
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