By Angela Reliford
Rise Up! Renew! Rejoice! was this year’s theme for the 2nd Annual Celebration of Gospel that airs on BET Television Network Sunday, April 1 at 8p/7c with Host Steve Harvey, special guests and performances by Kirk Franklin, James Fortune and FIYA, Ricky Dillard, Yolanda Adams, The Rance Allen Group, Faith Evans, Fred Hammond, Earnest Pugh, Dr. Bobby Jones, Johnny Gill, and many more at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles.
The Celebration of Gospel pays tribute to the rich history of gospel music in a unique format that combines today’s leading gospel and secular music. This year's show pays tribute to the life and legacy of Mahalia Jackson who is also referred as the "Mother of Gospel” or the "Queen of Gospel". Jackson is a powerhouse and gifted legend in the gospel community. She has many memorable songs to include "Trouble of the World" which appeared in the movie Imitation of Life in 1976. Jackson won a Grammy Award for her well-known song "How I Got Over". She was also a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and honored him by singing, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" at his funeral.
Another powerhouse and legend in the gospel community, Shirley Caesar along with others like Yolanda Adams sung a musical tribute to Jackson. The singer, songwriter, recording gospel artist, Pastor Shirley Caesar has won several Grammy and Dove Awards and is known for such songs as “I Remember Mamma,” “He's Working It Out For You,” and “No charge.” Pastor Caesar is also known as The First Lady of Gospel and is one of this reporter’s favorite gospel artists. Not only does she have visible beauty, but inner beauty.
Paying tribute to singer/actress Whitney Houston was “A Moment in History,” with a display of photos of Houston in her younger years to the precious moments with her mother family and friends. Kelly Price, who was close to Houston, gave tribute to her in song.
Pastor Marvin Sapp gave an awesome performance of his latest single, “My Testimony.” Pastor Sapp warmed and touched the hearts of the audience as he became emotional and caught up into praise with his testimonial song.
Tanya Moore also hosted a prayer breakfast at the W Hotel in Los Angeles created to unite various religions, cultures, and denominations the day prior to the taping of the show. There was plenty of food to go around and much praise and worship going up to the Lord. The prayer warriors came together as one to include Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, D.Min PhD of Faithful Central Church in Los Angeles. Dr. Ulmer is currently the Presiding Bishop over the Macedonia International Bible Fellowship based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dr. Ulmer gave a phenomenal message about maintaining faith. Many have seen Bishop Clarence McClendon on BET and TBN television network stations. Bishop McClendon came all the way from Irvine, Texas to provide the message of "Your Talent is a Gift Given to You by God." He also spoke about the talented Whitney Houston.
Among other guests at the prayer breakfast were: Ezekiel Azonwu who performed spoken word, Saxophonist Donald Hugh, Judge Mableam Ephriam, Isaac Caree, Lonnie Hunter, Adrine Anderson former member of Trint-i-tee 5 7, Isaac Car, and radio host Humilitee closing the prayer.