CHICAGO GOSPEL MUSIC FESTIVAL

May 29-31, 2015 • Free Admission • Millennium Park
One of the biggest components of Chicago's musical history is gospel music, which was started here in the early 1900s. The Chicago Gospel Music Festival keeps that tradition alive May 29-31, 2015 with multiple stages in Millennium Park showcasing the depth of this genre — traditional and contemporary, lively choral groups, extraordinary vocalists, dynamic duos and more.

Spread the word! The annual festival is free and family-friendly so settle in for some powerful performances on the main stage each night, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and during the day at the PrivateBank Spirit Stage both Saturday and Sunday. Also over the weekend, don't miss the Inspiration Youth Stage, the Art Fair and Marketplace, the Kids Activity Zone and the Health and Wellness Oasis.

Leading up to this weekend, the sounds of gospel music will fill the downtown Chicago Cultural Center and across neighborhood locations across the city throughout the month of April and May with special preview events as well.

2015 FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

Friday, May 29

  • Location: Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 E. Randolph St.)
  • Hours: 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
  • FREE ADMISSION
The festival’s opening night will be a “Gospel Choir Showcase” presented by The PrivateBank featuring a lineup of local and national choirs.

The 200 voice youth and children’s Peace Choir under the direction of Cinque Cullar will kick-off the festival at 6:30 pm. 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 7:20 pm 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 8:00 pm 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 8:40 pm. 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

  • Location: Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 E. Randolph St.)
  • Hours: 11 am – 9:30 pm (music starts at noon)
  • FREE ADMISSION
At 4:30 pm, evening performances kick off with Anita Wilson and Jonathan McReynolds 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 5:30 pm, 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 6:20 pm 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 80s and early 90s. 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.

At 7:15 pm, the Pritzker stage welcomes J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise, the most sought after contemporary choirs in the nation. 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 8:10 pm with 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

  • Location: Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 E. Randolph St.)
  • Hours: 11 am – 9:30 pm (music starts at noon)
  • FREE ADMISSION
After a full day of music and festivities, the final evening of performances at Jay Pritzker Pavilion begins at 4:30 pm 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 100 voices from an assortment Chicago church choirs at 5:30 pm. 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 7 pm 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”.

Richard Smallwood and Vision will grace the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage beginning at 7:45 pm. 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.

The festival will welcome Israel Houghton and New Breed at 8:45 pm. 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.

 
 
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CHICAGO GOSPEL MUSIC FESTIVAL UPDATES

For the latest schedule updates and more festival information, visit the ChicagoGospelMusicFestival.us official website with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
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