While the attraction of gospel music can be found in its performance, true appreciation of gospel lies in the history of its origins.
"Gospel music is incredibly relevant because it speaks to the genre of music that is uniquely American," said Ron Magnus, chairman of the D.C. 4th Annual National Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration, kicking off in D.C. at the Warner Theatre this Sunday.
"[The music] speaks to trials and tribulations, challenges, successes -- all of the emotions of the spirit are represented in gospel music," he continued. "That's why it's so incredibly successful and heartfelt. It speaks to our times, to our experiences, our history. Gospel speaks to the foundation of this nation."
This year's performance, titled "Evolution of Gospel 2012," runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets for the performance are free.
|'Evolution of Gospel 2012'|
|Where: Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW|
|When: 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday|
|Info: Free; 800-895-7301; email@example.com; gospelmusicheritage.org|
Taking part in the celebration is Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who has led efforts to ensure the contributions, history and sound of gospel are recognized and honored nationwide. To that end, she passed resolutions for the past four years designating September as Gospel Music Heritage Month.
Sunday's celebration features Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Yolanda Adams, joined by Verity Records gospel recording artist Crystal Aikin. Additional performers include Maurette Brown Clark, 7 Sons of Soul, Damita Haddon, Lil' Mo and Phillip Bryant and a special guest appearance by the Washington Society for the Performing Arts' Men and Women of the Gospel Choir. The history of gospel music will be narrated by minister Howard Watson.
"It is an honor to be supported by gifted gospel artists who are lending their gifts to emphasize the importance of educating and entertaining the public about the art form of gospel music," said Carl Davis, chairman of Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation. "The Warner Theatre is the perfect stage to launch this year's emphasis."
The evening's honorees include Don Jackson, of the Stellar Awards, Charley Humbard, of the Gospel Music Channel and D.C.'s own Shirley MK Berkeley.
"This year will be the biggest celebration ever," Davis remarked, while Magnus chimed in, "There are 1,847 seats at the Warner. It's gonna be rockin'."