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 on 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.
Festival-goers will be able to enjoy music throughout the day at The PrivateBank Spirit Stage located in the south tent on the Chase Promenade in Millennium Park. Music begins at noon with highlights that include Crystal Aikin, the Douglas Singers and Todd Dulaney on Saturday. On Sunday, The Brown Sisters and the Pastors of Praise will bring the joyful crowd to their feet.
The Gospel Music Festival will also offer a number of activities for the whole family to enjoy on Saturday and Sunday. Attendees won’t want to miss the Inspiration Youth Stage and Art Fair and Marketplace in the north tent on the Chase Promenade as well as the Kids Activity Zone. The Health and Wellness Oasis will offer health information, advice from experts and activities to encourage a healthy lifestyle. The Oasis will be located on the south promenade in the south tent.
The festival’s opening night on Friday, May 29, 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.
For more than a quarter century, this festival has remained free and it continues to present high caliber gospel music performers that over the years have included: Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Donald Lawrence, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Yolanda Adams, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Sapp, Albertina Walker, The Canton Spirituals, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond and others.
The 2015 celebration is a milestone year. The 30th Gospel Music Festival honors the genre’s deep Chicago roots with traditional choirs and contemporary urban gospel music in the city where the genre was born more than 80 years ago.