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Gospel Rocks the Lakefront

By Tim State in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 3, 2007 1:51PM

gospelfest.jpgThe power of 300 voices rocked the Jay Pritzker Pavilion during “An Evening of Elegance” at the Chicago Gospel Festival last night, and that was just one act. We heard from Otis Clay, the Bady Brothers, and the Brown Sisters.

"The Professor Thomas A. Dorsey Tribute" closed the evening and recognized Chicago’s own Thomas Dorsey, who is considered the Father of Gospel. Dorsey developed gospel music by combining Christian praise with the rhythms of jazz and blues. The tribute included salutes from The Christ Universal Temple Ensemble, The Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir, The First Church of Deliverance Choir, and The Divine Divas. The Divine Divas delivered a soul-shaking sound that we’d call Gopera, sort of a combination of spirited gospel and lively opera creating a sound that was divine, for sure.

“Gospel music is the heart beat of life,” said one of the Bady Brothers at the end of his performance.

“You can’t stay the same if you listen to gospel music,” a Brown sister added.

One of the pastors singing and directing spoke between sets of a Buddhist who was once offended by the praying taking place at the Gospel Festival, so now, praying is no longer endorsed. We’re a bit confused because we thought gospel and praying go hand-in-hand. But rules didn’t stop the crowd from following along with the energy on the stage. Unable to pray for us, or lead us through a thoughtful meditation, the pastor invited the crowd to turn to the person beside us, and give him a hug. And after the hug, he asked us to place our right hand on his should and shout at him one word, “Live!”

The 23rd annual festival attracts its share of Stellar Award winners. This year the weekend closes with Grammy-nominated and Stellar-Award winning Tye Tribbett & Greater Annointing. Today’s music begins at 11:00 a.m. in Millennium Park.