Celebrating King through gospel

Concert and holiday program planned for this weekend

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:14 p.m.

Gospel music will take center stage this year during the King Celebration 2014 activities.


Jonathan Vickers of Ocala will headline the King Holiday Gospel Program following the annual King Commemorative March. (Special to the Guardian)



* What: Concert featuring national singer Luther Barnes.

* When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

* Where: King Center, 1028 NE 14th St.

* Tickets: $7 in advance, $12 at door.

* Information: Call 352-372-8200.


* What: The King Holiday Gospel Program featuring Jonathan Vickers of “Sunday Best.”

* When: 2 p.m. Monday.

* Where: King Center, 1028 NE 14th St.

* Information: Call 352-376-2442.

National recording artist Luther Barnes will be the highlight of a gospel concert on Saturday evening and the annual King Holiday Gospel Program will feature Jonathan Vickers of Ocala, a contestant in 2010 on "Sunday Best" on BET.

The concert featuring Barnes, who has recorded such gospel hits as "I'm Still Holding On" and "Trouble in My Way," will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at the King Center at 1028 NE 14th St. Tickets are $7 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at the Rodney Long Commercial Building at 1712 NE Waldo Road, the PRAIZE Center at 309 NE 39th Ave. or online at www.praize1075.com.

The King Holiday Gospel Program featuring Vickers will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, also at the King Center. It is free and open to the community.

Gospel concert

Rodney Long, founder and president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida, said in an attempt to add more gospel programs to King Celebration activities, he summoned the help of Pastor Shirley Watts of the Community Praize Center and PRAIZE 107.5 FM.

Long said since the late Rev. Dr. King was first and foremost a minister, it only makes sense to have more gospel programs during a time set aside to honor his life and legacy.

Watts said she chose Barnes because he is an established, traditional gospel artist who didn't mind coming to Gainesville on the night of the Stellar Awards, arguably the most prestigious awards ceremony in the gospel music industry.

"When people are comfortable with who they are, they don't need the Stellars to make them," said Watts.

The concert also will feature gospel singer Sir Princeton of Miami and the Voices of Praise 107.5 Chorale, a recording choir made up of members of the Community Praize Center and others from Gainesville and Ocala. Watts said she is the director of the choir, and her husband, Clarence Watts, composes songs for the choir. She said the choir has performed for gospel legend Bobby Jones, longtime host of "Bobby Jones Gospel" on BET.

Watts said Sir Princeton is a former road manager for Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell and 2 Live Crew, when the rap group was known in the 1980s and 1990s for its explicit lyrics.

"When he got saved, he turned everything around and now he is singing for the Lord and he is praising God," Watts said. "He has a testimony."

Gospel program

The annual gospel program will feature Vickers, who appeared in 2010 on "Sunday Best" on BET and last year won the inaugural "Walk Into Your Season" Sing-Off at the 34th annual 5th Avenue Arts Festival by singing "He's Able." Vickers has the stage presence of a seasoned performer.

The Rev. Karl "The Rev." Anderson, senior co-pastor of Upper Room Church of God in Christ, will serve as the emcee at the event, which also will feature the Upper Room Mass Choir and Praise Dance Team.

Also performing will be: The Andrews Family of High Springs, Eastside High School Gospel Choir, The Gainey Family of Alachua, Gainesville singer Karen Johnson and the M&M Dance Ministry of Mount Moriah Baptist Church, with members Maya McGraw and Mikayla Suggs.

Long, also an evangelist, will deliver a very short address on the legacy of the King Commission and King Celebration activities in Gainesville.

Janice Nix Crews, organizer of the program and a member of the King Commission, said at least 200 residents normally attend the annual event, which has been a part of King Celebration activities for many years.

"Because Dr. King was a man of faith, we like to present the annual gospel program to showcase local gospel talent and show that we still believe that God is the head of our lives and we are here to praise, honor and glorify him," Nix Crews said.

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