GUA: Music, ventriloquist move crowd at Gospel Explosion
Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:13 p.m.
A puppet stole the show at Gospel Explosion 2010 with a performance that had many people with tears in their eyes as he lip-synced to songs by Harvey Watkins and the Canton Spirituals and other popular traditional gospel singers.
The free concert held at the Gainesville Christian Center was sponsored by Marva Quarterman, the president of Quarterman Productions, and Elder Arthur Rouse, a gospel DJ at PRAIZE 107.7 FM.
"Quarterman productions has been doing this for more than ten years now, and each year we try to bring something new to the people of Gainesville," Quarterman said, adding that more than 300 people came out to show tremendous support for the show. "All of the acts were good, but the people really enjoyed Oscar the puppet. That boy had me in tears. Yes he did!"
Charles Grover is a gospel ventriloquist from Orlando who performed in Gainesville for the first time with his puppet Oscar. Grover was stylishly dressed in a red shirt and black pants, and Oscar was just as dapper, sporting braids, a black vest with a pair of red pants, a red shirt and red sunglasses.
He performed "Let Go and Let God Have His Way" first, and his lip-syncing with head and arm movements quickly captured the audience. Parishioners immediately responded to his theatrics, and it didn't take long before the whole church was standing, clapping and urging Oscar on.
"You better do it! You better do it!" shouted one woman. He ended his first act by really moving the crowd with "Jesus Never Gave Up on Me."
Little Johnny & The Gospel Wonders from Ocala also seemed to get an awesome response from the crowd. Lead singer Johnny Collins performed with a lot of energy that kept the crowd excited as his group took the stage two hours and forty-five minutes into the concert.
Collins jumped into the air while spinning around as he sang several songs.
"How many of you came to have church tonight," Collins said before singing "I Feel Like Having Church."
"I'm just an old country boy, and I come to have church tonight," Collins said.
With the crowd still in a frenzy after the performance by Little Johnny and the Gospel Wonders, Gainesville gospel singer Leon Young ended the concert and sent parishioners home still feeling the spirit as he sung "When The Gates Swing Open" and "Silver and Gold."
Though the concert started at 6 p.m., the doors to the church opened at 5 p.m., and soon after that, local musician and Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church organist Mildred Dewberry entertained parishioners as they waited for the headliners to perform.
"I don't know what you all came to do, but I came to have a good time," Dewberry said as she began to sing "I Got Jesus, And That's Enough."
Rouse, the co-sponsor who also served as the master of ceremony, began the concert by asking parishioners if they knew that there is power in the name Jesus.
"How many of you know that when praises go up, blessings come down," Rouse said.
Local gospel singer Walter Decoursey was the first to perform as he gave a testimony about how he used to be before giving his life back to Jesus Christ. Decoursey sung "It's Time To Go Back Home," "Too Close To The Mirror" and "It's Going To Rain."
The Revelations, a gospel group based in Gainesville, then performed a medley of songs including "How Far Is Heaven" and "Ain't God A Good God."
"I'm like mama, I like those old songs," said lead singer Virgil Moore of Ocala. "Ain't nothing wrong with the new, but it took the old to get to the new."
Deborah Gainey of Alachua performed next, singing "Walk With Me" and "I Feel Like Praising Him."
After Gainey, Oscar the puppet performed a second time for parishioners, lifting them up even higher than he did the first time by performing "He's There All The Time" by Harvey Watkins and the Canton Spirituals.
The Southland Singers of Gainesville also performed, singing "Cooling Water," "I'm Willing To Run All The Way" and "God Has Made A Change In My Life."
Quarterman said the concert was a typical Quarterman Production.
"People know they can just come out and praise God and enjoy a good show when we do this," Quarterman said. "The night went just like it has went the last 10 years with people praising God and being blessed with talented and gifted gospel singers singing to lift up the name of the Lord."