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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) present the complete lineup for the 28th Chicago Gospel Music Festival in Chicago from June 20-23. Once again the Bronzeville neighborhood, the birthplace of Gospel music, will serve as the festival’s main home – with the weekend portion of the festival featuring two stages of music at Ellis Park (37th and Cottage Grove). Millennium Park will host opening night performances on Thursday, and the Chicago Cultural Center will host various events on Friday.
“The city of Chicago welcomes the Chicago Gospel Music Festival and is proud to continue fostering one of America’s greatest musical genres,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By celebrating Chicago’s Gospel Music Festival in the Bronzeville Community we are advancing several priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan by strengthening our local arts and entertainment, while showcasing the economic and cultural assets of one of Chicago’s most historic neighborhoods.”
Bringing one of the city’s heritage festivals to one of Chicago’s historic neighborhoods continues to fulfill the mission of the Chicago Cultural Plan by expanding and capitalizing on neighborhood cultural assets and bringing music and art to underserved areas. This serves to further the Mayor’s strategic vision to foster growth and development in neighborhoods such as Bronzeville across Chicago. Bronzeville was named one of the Mayor’s seven opportunity zones last week. In 2012, for the first time, Mayor Emanuel brought Gospel Fest to Bronzeville, the ancestral home of gospel. Now, in 2013, it returns.
The Chicago Gospel Music Festival, presented by The Black McDonald’s Operators Association, moves to its festival home in Bronzeville’s Ellis Park (37th and Cottage Grove) on June 22 and 23 and this year many of Chicago’s homegrown talent will be performing on the Day Stage as music begins at noon.
On Saturday, Elder Carl Hearne & Priesthood will be the first performers on the Day Stage followed by 2nd Nature at 12:30 p.m. and G.A.3 at 1 p.m. (Full lineup is below.)
The festival brings back some favorites from previous years with Percy Bady who performs at 2:40 p.m. Born and raised in Chicago, Bady is a songwriter, producer and performer who is credited with influencing modern Gospel music. Malcolm Williams & Great Faith follow as Williams performs the music he was born to play, beginning his career at age six when he was named Director of a 60 member junior choir at a church in North Chicago.
Closing out the afternoon are AM:PM – Anthony McGahee & Praise Motivated at 4:10 p.m. The Milwaukee native has conducted for Josh Groban and trained many academy choirs. The finale is Chicago-based gospel youth choir Joshua’s Troop which combines vocals with hip-hop, R&B and a jazzy gospel sound.
12pm Elder Carl Hearne & Priesthood
12:30pm 2nd Nature
1:30pm “Chicago's Next” featuring Freddie White & Nex Level, Ev3 and The Turner Sisters
2:10pm Ray & Spirit of Praise
2:40pm Percy Bady
3:10pm Malcolm Williams & Great Faith
3:40pm Kenny Lewis & One Voice
4:10pm AM:PM - Anthony McGahee & Praise Motivated
4:40pm Joshua's Troop
Saturday also features an opportunity for festival attendees to take a free tour of Bronzeville’s historic churches. This narrated 90-minute tour highlights the history of gospel music and how the Chicago Gospel Music Festival got its start —and stops at three historic Bronzeville Churches that each played an important role in the birth of Gospel music. Sights on the tour include: Ebenezer Baptist Church, First Church of Deliverance and Pilgrim Baptist Church with departures at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. (Space is limited and seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.)
Music shifts to the main stage in the evening where the previously announced performers of the McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour are headliners Smokie Norful, John P. Kee, Lecrae and Tamela Mann and emcee Vickie Winans.
On Sunday, music begins again at noon on the Day Stage with Chicagoans Tony Tidwell & Uncommon Favor followed by soloist Tim White at 12:30 p.m. Later in the afternoon is The Voices of Acme led by Janet Sutton, who conducted the choir to its 2008 title of “Best Choir in America” after competing in the Verizon Wireless “How Sweet the Sound” choir competition. They take the stage 3:10 p.m.
South sider Jonathan McReynolds is only a few short years removed from his Whitney Young High School days and he performs at 4:10 p.m. The finale on the Day Stage at 4:40 p.m. is the Chicago Mass Choir, which was founded more than two decades ago. In 1991 the Chicago Mass Choir was nominated in five categories for the Gospel Music Excellence awards and was named Best New Artist.
12pm Tony Tidwell & Uncommon Favor
12:30pm Tim White
1:00pm The Heavenly King Jr.’s
1:30pm Bill Winston Presents…Living Word Recording Choir
1:55pm Spiritual Feet Dance
2:10pm Martin Woods
2:40pm The Young Adult Choir of Greater Harvest M.B. Church
3:10pm Janet Sutton & The Voices of Acme
3:40pm Dr. Charles G. Hayes & The Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir
4:10pm Jonathan McReynolds
4:40pm Chicago Mass Choir
The main stage again begins at 5 p.m. with Joe Ligon and The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Kierra Sheard and the grand finale of The Brat Pack: Bishop Hezekiah Walker, Ricky Dillard & Donald Lawrence featuring yet another “How Sweet the Sound” winner Dexter Walker & Zion Movement on backing vocals.
Throughout both days at Ellis Park, the festival will feature a Kids Activity Zone with face-painters, caricature artists, a free-throw machine and McDonald’s Characters, including Ronald McDonald, will greet children.
The Health & Wellness Oasis returns and participants can gather health information, speak with experts and participate in activities that encourage healthy behaviors. In partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health, attendees will learn about accessing preventative screenings and care.
The Art Fair & Marketplace will offer festival goers the opportunity for a unique shopping venue featuring fine art, crafts, jewelry, clothing and more.
Once again, Robinson’s Ribs, Star of Siam and Miller Pizza will be selling food and beverage on site at the festival.
Prior to the weekend at Ellis Park, Gospel music will fill the halls of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington in three venues: Randolph Square (1st floor), Claudia Cassidy Theater (2nd floor) and Preston Bradley Hall (3rd floor) with midday performances on Friday, June 21.
Preston Bradley Hall
Noon Faith Howard
1:30pm Cinque Cullar
2:15pm Just Friends
Claudia Cassidy Theatre
12:15pm Brian Pettis
1pm Sauk Elementary School Show Choir
1:45pm Mark Wright & Friends
2:30pm Leanne Faine & Favor
12:30pm Kymm Lewis
1:15pm The James'
2:00pm Kevin Gray
Later that evening, the Claudia Cassidy Theater will screen “The Sweet Sisters of Zion: Delois Barrett Campbell and The Barrett Sisters” at 5:30 p.m. Following the screening, there will be a discussion with The Barrett Sisters and the producer/director of the film, Regina Rene Davis.
The festival will open on Thursday, June 20 at Millennium Park with a Gospel Choir showcase on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Stage.
The Chicago Gospel Music Festival is presented by The Black McDonald’s Operators Association and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and sponsored in part by Pepsi, Inspiration 1390, Chicago Transit Authority, Aquafina, Communications Direct and LaGrou Distribution
For the latest information on the Chicago Gospel Music Festival including musical lineups, visit chicagogospelmusicfestival.us, like us on Facebook at Chicago Gospel Music Festival or follow us on Twitter @ChicagoDCASE.
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Media seeking credentials to review or photograph performances at the festival must submit their request in writing on media letterhead. Requests must include whether credential is regular press or photo, indicate which date or dates and provide phone and email contacts. Note: Some musical artists require approval and some dictate how many songs may be photographed.