BET Celebration of Gospel 2016. Let’s tip our hats and raise our glasses to BET for presenting a well-balanced, spirit-led, entertaining 2-hours of power-n-praise with the Celebration Of Gospel 2016. The popular cable network stepped away for a minute from the ratchet video replays that saturate the Sunday night grid and eagerly segued from the humdrum House Of Payne to the scintillating Celebration Of Gospel 2016 for one soul-stirring Sunday night.
Fireworks went off like the 4th of July, as the dynamic Deitrick Haddon hit the stage with Jamaican pride-and-joy DJ Nicholas with the dance hall doozy, On The Way. Viewers were without question tickled pink to see the empress of the airwaves, actress Taraji P. Henson host the star-studded TV spectacle with her Colgate smile and charisma on full display.
Celebration Of Gospel went from 0 to 100 as the anointed Anthony Brown & Group Therapy sleighed the spectators in-the-Spirit with a classical rendition of his hit single, Worth. Well, service was only getting started as Tasha Cobbs broke every chain at the Orpheum Theatre and Put A Praise On It that lit up the feet of the faithful.
The show by now had earned its Emmy Awards in my mind but the producers clearly were looking to leave a year-long impression with what was to follow. The First (and Only) Lady of Gospel music, Pastor Shirley Caesar showed no signs of slowing down as she teamed up with this century’s soul man, Anthony Hamilton on the stirring new single called It’s Alright, It’s Ok. Not to be outdone, “Mr Debonair” Donnie McClurkin did it up real nice with the iconic Chaka Khan, as they took it back to the basics and reworked the wonderful standard, Walk With Me. The banner night went a little left as the ebonic chant, “I Luh God” filled the amphitheatre with Erica Campbell, Big Shizz and Empire cast member, Bryshere Y. Gray, hijacking the joint with Jesus at the center. The 21-Forever crew killed it, ensuring the Gospel was user-friendly for the BET faithful.
Other standouts included Yolanda Adams doing her timeless hit, In The Midst Of It All, Kirk Franklin doing his best Michael Jackson impression, Travis Greene giving it all he got on Intentional and recent front-runners Le’Andria Johnson & Brian Courtney Wilson letting it rip on Better Days and Worth Fighting For, respectively.
Perhaps the highlight of the night was the touching and tearful tribute to the late and great Andrae Crouch, father of contemporary Christian music, which sealed the deal, as a litany of Gospel greats including Jessica Reedy, Donnie McClurkin, BeBe Winans and Tamela Mann took their turns on Crouch’s most memorable hits of the last era. The 2-hour episode was an epiphany of color and sound set to sacred music. Mazel tov to the head honchos at BET for celebrating the brand and beauty of Gospel with a touch of class and a sense of Christ.