April 14, 2015

The 30th Chicago Gospel Music Festival Schedule Announced with Artists Celebrating Gospel Music’s Chicago Roots in Millennium Park May 29-31

Headliners include Israel Houghton & New Breed, Ricky Dillard and New G, Richard Smallwood and Vision, Canton Jones and an all-star tribute to Andrae Crouch and Walter Hawkins

Mary May    mary.may@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0576

Christine Carrino    christine.carrino@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0573

The 30th Chicago Gospel Music Festival will be held in Millennium Park this May 29-31. The free admission festival will feature local and national artists celebrating the genre’s deep Chicago roots with traditional choirs and contemporary urban gospel music in the city where the genre was born more than 80-years ago. Headliners include: Ricky Dillard & New G on Friday, May 29; Donald Lawrence and Company presents: A Tribute to Andrae Crouch and Walter Hawkins on Saturday, May 30; Israel Houghton & New Breed on Sunday, May 31, along with many others.

The free-admission festival kicks-off in Millennium Park on Friday, May 29 from 6:30pm–9:30pm and will continue on Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31 from 11am–9:30pm (music starts at noon).

The festival will feature three stages of live music in the heart of downtown Chicago marking its 30th year showcasing the rich heritage of Gospel music in Chicago. The PrivateBank Spirit Stage, located in the south tent on the Chase promenade and will feature music on Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon. The Inspiration Youth Stage in the north tent on the Chase promenade will feature youth choirs, open-microphone opportunities and much more on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 12:30pm. The evening performances will take place on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (start times vary). For a complete performance schedule visit chicagogospelmusicfestival.us.

Friday, May 29

The festival’s opening night will be a “Gospel Choir Showcase” presented by The PrivateBank featuring a lineup of local and national choirs at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

The 200 voice youth and children’s Peace Choir under the direction of Cinque Cullar will kick-off the festival at 6:30pm. The group is made up several Chicago area youth choirs including: Salem Baptist Church of Chicago (South Side); St. Sabina (South Side); Trinity (South Side); Third Baptist (South Side); Sweet Holy Spirit (South Side); New Beginnings in Christ (South Side); Destiny Worship Center (West Side); New St. Mathews (West Side); Progressive Life Giving Word (West Side) and Covenant United Church of Christ, South Holland (South Suburbs). The choir encourages team work and promotes the love of gospel music.

The Gospel Choir Showcase will continue at 7:15pm with Chicago’s Dexter Walker and Zion Movement for an energetic and inspirational performance. Not to be outdone, Stellar award winner Mark Hubbard & The Voices will perform at 8pm with special guests and winners of BET’s Sunday Best, Crystal Aikin (season 1) and Geoffrey Golden (season 7).

Ricky Dillard and New G will bring their cutting edge sound and songwriting, including hits from the 2013 album Amazing to the Pritzker stage at 8:45pm. As the “Choir Master,” Ricky Dillard has garnered international acclaim as an artist with a show-stopping live performance and choreography that takes fans on a powerful spiritual journey. At this year’s Stellar Awards, Ricky Dillard and New G took home three awards including Choir of the Year.

Saturday, May 30

At 4:30pm Anita Wilson and Jonathan McReynolds will launch the evening’s performances on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Stage representing a new generation of gospel performers. With her sophomore album, Vintage Worship, Anita Wilson fuses gospel music with funk, R&B and soul creating a melting pot of sound that inspires and uplifts its listeners. Jonathan McReynolds is a young artist who has put everything on the table with his debut album, Live Music proving to be a singer and songwriter on the rise with a new album coming out in 2016.

At 5:30pm, Grammy® and Stellar award nominated singer, rapper, songwriter and producer, Canton Jones will bring his own gospel hip-hop to the stage. Since beginning his career, Jones has released numerous albums which include 20 Years, 3 Months, & 12 Days…, Love Jones, The Password: Access Granted, Kingdom Business Parts 1-4, Go Mode, Lust, Drugs, and Gospel, and Godcity.

A special performance at 6:20pm will bring gospel music fans to their feet with The Tommies Reunion. The“Choir’s Choir” affectionately known to most as just “The Tommies,” was originally under the direction of the late Rev. Milton Brunson. Through the vision of Darius Brooks, The Tommies Reunion is comprised of the faces and voices that sent the group to the top of the charts during the late 80’s and early 90’s. They ushered in the contemporary gospel sound which led to them being called the #1 choir in the country and placed them permanently in gospel music history.

J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise have proven themselves to be the most sought after contemporary choir in the nation and at 7:15pm they will be on the Pritzker stage. After numerous Stellar Award Nominations and over 40 weeks on Media Guides Radio chart for their hit "Incredible God" the Connecticut based choir will bring their energetic performance style and phenomenal vocal power to Chicago. The choir has an uncanny ability to captivate and inspire an audience.

The evening will come to a close at 8:10pm with Donald Lawrence and Company presents: A Tribute to Andrae Crouch and Walter Hawkins featuring J Moss, Kierra Sheard, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Brian Courtney Wilson, Bishop Rance Allen, Lisa Page Brooks, Tasha Page-Lockhart, Jessica Reddy, Chrystal Rucker, Micah Stampley and legendary Andrae Crouch lead vocalist Kristle Murden.

Sunday, May 31

The final evening of the festival begins at 4:30pm with Inspired People Music and multi-award winner Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago. The Grammy® Award-winning songwriter Pastor Charles Jenkins and his electrifying choir, Fellowship Chicago recently earned their second #1 spot on Billboard Magazine's Gospel Albums sales chart for the newly released project Any Given Sunday that features the hit single "#War." In 2012, the ensemble’s debut, "The Best of Both Worlds" spent three weeks at #1 on the same chart.

Reminiscent of the early days of Gospel Music the festival will present “The Sound of Sunday Gospel Radio” featuring 150 voices from The Greater Harvest Choir, Bryant Jones & Chosen and Salem Baptist Church of Chicago's Fellowship Choir at 5:25pm. The sounds of gospel music could be heard each Sunday from its early beginning in the early 1930s when Thomas Dorsey, Magnolia Lewis Butts and Theodore Roosevelt Frye assembled the first gospel choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

Taking the stage at 6:35pm is Anthony Brown & group therAPy. After spending some years as a songwriter, arranger, and vocalist Anthony Brown stepped forward in 2012 with Anthony Brown & group therAPy and their self-titled debut album. Prior to this and after some years of collaborations and performances with the group Answered Prayers, group therAPy was born. In 2014, Anthony Brown & group therAPy won three Stellar Awards for Group/Duo of the Year, Contemporary Male of the Year and Music Video of the Year for their hit single “Testimony”.

At 7:15pm award-winning gospel superstar, author, and pastor, Marvin Sapp will take the stage. Knowen for his mega-selling single "Never Would Have Made It", which held down the #1 spot in gospel radio for almost a year, Sapp is currently touring the country preaching and promoting his new single "Yes You Can" from his highly anticipated new project YOU SHALL LIVE to be released in early June.

At the age of five, Richard Smallwood was playing piano by ear with formal training at age seven and at age eleven he formed his own gospel music group. He has become a Grammy®, Stellar and Dove Awards winner with his unique blend of classical movement with traditional gospel music. Richard Smallwood and Vision will grace the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage beginning at 7:45pm.

The festival will welcome Israel Houghton and New Breed on Sunday at 8:45pm. The prolific worship leader, musician, songwriter, producer and recording artist’s career has spanned 22-years and includes work on more than 50 albums and awards including multiple Grammy®, Stellar, Dove and Soul Train Music awards. In 1995 Houghton formed New Breed Ministries accomplishing commercial success with Billboard chart toppers “New Season,” “Power of One” and the current “Jesus At The Center.” He currently serves as a Worship leader at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

The PrivateBank Spirit Stage Highlights for Saturday, May 30 and Sunday May 31

Festival-goers will be able to enjoy music throughout the day at The PrivateBank Spirit Stage located in the south tent on the Chase Promenade in Millennium Park. Music begins at noon with highlights that include Crystal Aikin, the Douglas Singers and Todd Dulaney on Saturday. On Sunday, The Brown Sisters and the Pastors of Praise will bring the joyful crowd to their feet.

The Gospel Music Festival will also offer a number of activities for the whole family to enjoy on Saturday and Sunday. Attendees won’t want to miss the Inspiration Youth Stage and Art Fair and Marketplace in the north tent on the Chase Promenade as well as the Kids Activity Zone. The Health and Wellness Oasis will offer health information, advice from experts and activities to encourage a healthy lifestyle. The Oasis will be located on the south promenade in the south tent.

Preview Events

Throughout April and May there will be a number of preview events to celebrate the festivals 30th year. Highlights include the “Chicago’s Gospel Truths” exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington). The exhibit of historic photographs and original artifacts will be on display beginning April 15. On Saturday, April 25 at 2pm there will be a discussion and book signing with Robert Marovich, author of “A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music” at the Woodson Regional Library (9525 S Halsted St.). There will also be performances at the Maxwell Street Market on Sunday, May 17 at 1pm.

On Monday, May 11 at 6:30pm, fans will be able to get "Up Close & Personal" with Grammy® winner Tye Tribbett and Grammy® nominated artist KEM with a discussion moderated by Grammy® nominated artist Anita Wilson at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington). Attendees will have the opportunity to ask Tye & KEM about their dynamic careers as artists, and how they might make moves in their own musical aspirations to follow in their footsteps. The event will also feature performances from festival artists, and is presented in partnership with The Recording Academy.

The Chicago Gospel Music Festival is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and is sponsored in part by American Family Insurance, Aquafina, Chicago Jazz Magazine, Chicago Sky, Chicago Transit Authority, Communications Direct, Inspiration 1390 AM, LaGrou Distribution System, Metra, Pepsi and The PrivateBank.

For the latest information on the Chicago Gospel Music Festival including previews, festival schedule and artist information, visit chicagogospelmusicfestival.us, like us on Facebook at Chicago Gospel Music Festival or follow us on Twitter @ChicagoDCASE (#ChiGospelMusic).


The 30th Chicago Gospel Music Festival

Schedule of Performances in Millennium Park

(subject to change)

Friday, May 29

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

  • 6:30pm  Cinque Cullar & The Peace Choir
  • 7:15pm  Dexter Walker & Zion Movement
  • 8pm  Mark Hubbard & The Voices featuring Crystal Aikin & Geoffrey Golden
  • 8:45pm  Ricky Dillard & New G


Saturday, May 30

The PrivateBank Day Stage – South Tent, Chase Promenade

    • Noon  Ryan Booker
  • 12:35pm  “Chicago's Next” featuring Nicole Harris, EJ Jackson and Raine
  • 1:30pm  Crystal Aikin
  • 2:05pm  Todd Dulaney
  • 2:40pm  Family Christian Center
  • 3:15pm  Geoffrey Golden
  • 3:50pm  The Douglas Singers

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

  • 4:30pm  Anita Wilson and Jonathan McReynolds
  • 5:30pm  Canton Jones
  • 6:20pm  The Tommies Reunion
  • 7:15pm  J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise
  • 8:10pm  Donald Lawrence and Company presents: A Tribute to Andrae Crouch and Walter Hawkins featuring: Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Lisa Page Brooks, Tasha Page Lockhart, Chrystal Rucker, Brian Courtney Wilson and many more.


Sunday, May 31

The PrivateBank Day Stage – South Tent, Chase Promenade

  • Noon  Sensere
  • 12:35pm  Chris Searcy
  • 1:05pm  Apostle R.D. Ewing and M.O.E.
  • 1:40pm  God's Chosen
  • 2:05pm  Psalm 3
  • 2:25pm  The Brown Sisters
  • 3pm  Pastors for Praise featuring Pastors Chris Harris, Eric Sanders and Mark Spates Smith
  • 3:50pm  One 4 Christ


Jay Pritzker Pavilion

  • 4:30pm  Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago
  • 5:25pm  “The Sound of Sunday Gospel Radio”
  • 6:35pm  Anthony Brown & group therAPy
  • 7:15pm  Marvin Sapp
  • 7:45pm  Richard Smallwood and Vision
  • 8:45pm  Israel Houghton & New Breed


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.


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