February 17, 2006
Houston is doing it again. The city had the Stellars in 2004 and 2005. It was also home to the 2005 Superbowl. And 2006 brought the NBA All-Star Weekend.
So the weekend would not be complete without Monica Bacon's All-Star Gospel Celebration, held this year at the Fountain of Praise. The night of February 17, 2006 was full of some of the top artists in Gospel along with some up-and-comers.
Fountain of Praise's stunning young adult choir, Shabach, set the night off with two powerful numbers. Watch out for this collective.
This being a basketball based event, no surprise that the place was chock full of young vibrant artists. New urban male trio, 21:03, of the PAJAM camp, came out after a dope introduction by Lilí J Xavier and Lilí iROCC. 21:03 impressed with choreography and tight harmonies on "Spiritual Blessings", but "I'm Sorry" showcased the guy's mature vocal skills. This song has been getting airplay and rightfully so.
Ray Bady, who holds down skills in both drumming and vocals, introduced the highly-anticipated Dave Hollister. The band kicked in a funky groove and the newly revived Hollister entered the stage, kickstarting into "Second Chance". Known for his years as a solo R&B artist and a short time in the group BLACKstreet, many have always wanted Hollister to drop a Gospel album and heíll be releasing one this summer on Gospo Centric. He testified of how God brought him back, bringing several in the audience to their feet in support. He then went into a powerful song titled, "Reach Out to Me".
The place went wild as Tamela Mann was introduced, and she did not disappoint, as she came out fired up and ready to minister. She begin with the upbeat, "Alright" and then went into the driving "Speak Lord". Wow! This was one of the many highlights of the night. The place went into a frenzy. Just when we thought it could not get any better Mann went into a jaw dropping rendition of Smokie Norful's "I Need You Now", starting off in a pretty falsetto and then moving to her signature squall. Who knew that she could sing that high?
Mann then introduced Micah Stampley, who come out with six singers behind him, all fitted with attire becoming the occasion, wearing jeans with NBA jerseys, but with a jazzy twist. Stampley got things cracking with "Sing" and then went into his popular anthem "War Cry". Hereís a singer who never sings without fervor and compassion. He finished his set with "Take My Life", encouraging everyone to worship and praising God.
The eventís surprise guest, Fred Hammond, came in from the back, much to the audience's delight. There were about 10 singers with Fred, but the thing that surprised many was that he only had the bongos and a rhythm guitar as his accompanying instruments. Did that stop him? NO! The place was rocking and people were having a great time as he sang such hits as "Celebrate (He Lives)", a newly arranged "Blessed", "No Weapon", "Glory to Glory to Glory" and so many others. This was truly a nice surpise. Fred then led a dedication to the NBA Moms, and they came onto the stage dancing and praising.
Israel and New Breed took the stage next and tour the house down. Already known as awesome worship leaders, Israel and New Breed are also becoming known as the remix kings, taking popular songs and giving them twists.
The group sang the 90's styled, "Alive" and then kicked into high gear with a revamped "Who is Like the Lord". The New Breed singers and the musicians were on point, with ďAgain I Say Rejoice and "Lord of the Breakthrough" also in the set. They left the stage with a powerfully worshipful "To Worship You I Live". Wow!
J Moss then ended the night with a powerful set of his own. He came out and sang hits like "I Wanna Be" and "You Brought Me" mixed with the music of "Jam" from Michael Jackson. His high tenor voice soared throughout his set. He also sang the worshipful "Unto Thee" and the ultra hit "We Must Praise". 21:03 served as Moss's dancers and backup singers.
This was a night to remember. God moved in the place. Gospo Centric exec. Monica Bacon put together a powerful night of Praise and Worship. And it was great to see former NBA sharpshooter, Allan Houston (read interview from 2003), worshipping with such passion. Can't wait until the 2007 All-Star Gospel Celebration.
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