GOSPEL GOES CLASSICAL GALA MAKES TRIUMPHANT ORLANDO DEBUT
Something remarkable happened in Orlando on what was supposed to be an ordinary night on June 9, 2018. An extraordinary event occurred at Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, FL entitled Gospel Goes Classical Gala Orlando. During this event, two superstars of the gospel and classical genres, came together for an unprecedented evening, melding these unique musical art forms into one beautiful sonic canvas. The featured artists included, multi-Grammy Award winner, BeBe Winans and International Opera Superstar, Denyce Graves, “Music brings stability to humanity in an uncivilized time”, says Graves “and the Gospel Goes Classical series does just that. With gospel being the bedrock for so many classical artists, it just makes sense that this series brings about a strength that I’ve not found in many of the other works I’ve been fortunate to experience.” Pastor Riva Tims, host of ‘The Glory of Gospel’ on Star 94.5Fm was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Gospel Goes Classical Gala.
Winans and Graves were backed by the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir and the Bella Musica Orchestra. The evening was conducted by Dr. Glenn Caldwell, Creative Director for Gospel Goes Classical. According to Dr. Caldwell, “This was the epitome of what “gospel going classical” represents. There was a striking, sophisticated balance of vocal and instrumental performances that ranged from art songs (works for piano and solo voice) and praise ballads. Featured was a piano duet by Assel Jean-Pierre Sr. and Jr. that combined a classical composition with a gospel favorite; a Bella Musica Orchestra rendition of “Ride On King Jesus”; and works that highlighted the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir with orchestra and rhythm accompaniments. The vocal stylings of Denyce Graves, Monique Steele, and BeBe Winans, laid a historical outline of the convergence of spirituals to classical art songs in the late 19th century through the Negro Renaissance which included the “gospelizing” of hymns, and contemporary gospel sounds of today. This event had it all.”
This presentation of Gospel Goes Classical Gala was produced by Steve Lane, President/CEO Digital 1 Media Services, Inc. Mr. Lane says, “Our goal is to bring a completely unique 360 music experience to the people of Orlando and our corporate sponsors. We believe in supporting our community. This year, the Gospel Goes Classical Gala supported the Central Florida Urban League (CFUL) for its Operation Cease Fire Initiative. Looking forward, we are excited to partner with Opera Orlando for 2019.”
Chev Lovett, Member, Board of Directors of Opera Orlando, put it this way, “Gospel Goes Classical combined my two most favorite art forms and musical genres to create a night of brilliant playing of the orchestra and the beautifully arranged energetic interpretations. Aside from the blended sound of the choir selections; seeing two of my lifelong musical idols, Denyce Graves and BeBe Winans on stage performing together was a dream come true.”
The brand has spanned fourteen venues across two continents is a ground-breaking presentation featuring some of gospel’s biggest and brightest stars such as Juanita Bynum, Jonathan Butler, Donnie McClurkin, Kurt Carr, Richard Smallwood, Benjamin Dube of South Africa, Dorinda Clark Cole, and Joe Mettle of Ghana, West Africa. The Gospel Goes Classical recordings have sold over 400,000 units worldwide and garnered over 15 million views on YouTube.
This experience has been a win-win situation for all involved including the artists, sponsors, special guests and most importantly the audience.
In their own words…
“Gospel Goes Classical is simply Classic and Classy. Loved every minute of it.”
– BeBe Winans
“Monique Steele. Although Monique may be new to some, her career reflects many performances in the states and abroad. Her vocal range spans from mid-tenor to soprano to a “Minnie Ripperton-like” stratosphere. She is unique in that her background reflects a mixture of an excellent classical training with the church experience of gospel soul. This makes Monique Steele-Griffiths the perfect performer for any Gospel Goes Classical event.”
– Dr. Glenn Caldwell, PhD
Perhaps it could be best summed up by a very special member of the audience, Khristian Dentley, a member of the iconic group Take 6:
“If I had to choose only one word to describe what I experienced attending “Gospel Goes Classical,” the word would be pristine. From the time I walked into the event until the time I left the VIP Reception, every single detail of “Gospel Goes Classical” was awe-inspiring. The orchestral arrangements set to the impeccable voices of Bebe Winans, Denyce Graves and Monique Steele added something special and unique to the evening. “Gospel Goes Classical” is the quintessential night of class, elegance, and pure musical bliss.”
– Khristian Dentley (member of Take 6)
On an ordinary night in Orlando…an extraordinary event occurred.