By Stanton Allen Weeks
BET often falls victim to critics who argue about the appropriateness of the networks subject matter and the content of programming. That being said, BET’s Annual Gospel Celebration is arguably the networks crowning glory of validation and one of its most popular and widely viewed programs. This years Celebration didn’t disappoint, it was taped again at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles and the capacity crowd filled with Gospel Royalty, Christians and Saints alike, packed the house to enjoy some inspirational, spiritual and rousing performances from some of the world most renowned gospel and secular artists, (Ledisi, Faith Evans and Johnny Gill). The program highlights are too numerous to count but include not-to-miss musical tributes to Whitney Houston (Kelly Price) and Mahalia Jackson (Moses Tyson Jr., Amber Riley, Jennifer Holliday, Yolanda Adams and Pastor Shirley Caesar) and spoken word performances by Dr. Bobby Jones and Wendy Raquel Robinson Steve Harvey, a self proclaimed “new christian”, returned as host for the evening (his 12th time) and injected his signature blend of edgy comedy and motivational speaking, kept the audience engaged between performances and leaning over and into the aisles with laughter.
Each rousing performance raised the bar higher and higher and the audience was compelled to their feet and throwing arms and hands in the air in praise and worship. The Celebration producers continue to be successful at designing a show that highlights both traditional and old school gospel, contemporary and new age music, as well as alternative and hip hop infused church music with a varied array of spectacular artists including; Rick Dillard and New G, Isaac Carree, Fred Hammond, Sunday Best Alum, Le’Andria Johnson and Jessica Reedy, Kirk Franklin and Mali Music, James Fortune and Rance Allen Group, Ernest Pugh and Maurette Brown-Clark.
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