As soon as last year’s Chicago Gospel Festival concluded, the first ever to be held both in Millennium Park, The Chicago Cultural Center and Ellis Park in Bronzeville, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events began planning for this year’s 4-day celebration of Gospel Music and all the joy it brings to hearts at home and worldwide.
Chicago’s Bronzeville was the birthplace of Gospel Music at Ebenezer Baptist Church, First Church of Deliverance, and Pilgrim Baptist Church, among others.
Gospel in turn gave the world soul music, R&B, and crossovers into many other genres, including Rock roll in Europe and more.
That’s a lot to celebrate—and if there is one thing Gospel music and this festival is about, it is the celebration of joy, and particularly of religious ecstasy.
With support from the city and this year’s main sponsor, the Black McDonald’s Operators Association among other sponsors, nearly 50 acts and hundreds of entertainers performed at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion (Thursday evening), The Chicago Cultural Center (Friday June 21) and in Ellis Park on Saturday June 22 and June 23.
We caught up with the action at what was supposed to be a slow time, early Sunday, when most festival-goers were still in Church.
There was nothing slow about it.
Happy enthusiasts were camped out to listen to acts rehearsing for the main stage evening events and were smiling despite the heat.
On the Day Stage groups of all sizes performed ranging from multi-generation choirs to opera performers to dancers and Grammy award winners.
Some groups with more than a century of standing came from their churches to perform.
Veteran of the Lyric Opera and Chicago Opera Theater Martin Woods performed too, see here in last year’s performance at the festival’s arm in the Cultural Center.
Off-stage the children delighted in fun activity tents. Ribs, Thai food, pizza, and lots of cool drinks made for a festive atmosphere.
DJ’s from our city’s Gospel stations held court as emcees. One high-spirited act followed another with barely any pause.
This is the one city festival where you spend most of your time on your feet clapping hands and jumping for joy.
Chicago is the home of Gospel and all Chicagoans should put the Gospel Festival on their yearly calendar for sure.
Photos: Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and on-site by Peter Kachergis