The 36th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest comes to Newark Symphony Hall (1030 Broad Street, Newark, NJ) on Saturday, May 12th for the gospel event of the year. This year will feature a stellar line-up of gospel artists including Bishop Hezekiah Walker, Jekalyn Carr, VaShawn Mitchell, Le’Andria Johnson, Wes Morgan, Cissy Houston, Melba Moore, and Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson. McDonald’s Gospelfest tickets are on sale now at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 973-643-8014, or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
Bishop Hezekiah Walker – Grammy award-winning gospel singer, composer, and choir leader, Hezekiah Walker, known as “the hip-hop pastor”, has brought many young people to gospel and choir music, and has shown that he has no problem using modern vernacular and recording techniques to expand his fan and worship base. He formed his first gospel group, the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, when he was in his twenties and serving as a Pentecostal minister. Walker and the choir released a pair of albums in 1987 and 1990 before Walker turned to a solo career, releasing Focus On Glory in 1992. A year later he released Live In Toronto, which proved to be his breakthrough, and the album hit the top of the gospel charts. Forming another choir, this one called the Love Fellowship Tabernacle Church Choir, Walker continued to release albums recorded live on the church circuit, including Live In Atlanta at Morehouse College in 1994, Hezekiah Walker Presents The LFT Church Choir in 1998, Family Affair in 1999, and Love Is Live! in 2001. Souled Out appeared in 2008, followed by Azusa: The Next Generation in 2013.
Jekalyn Carr – Able to bring a crowd to their feet with her powerful preaching and performances, an evangelist and singer, she was only 15 when she first broke into the Billboard 200 album chart. The West Memphis-based gospel artist made her debut in 2010 with the EP God Has a Promise Over Your Life. In 2012 she had a hit with the single Greater Is Coming, which became the title track of her debut full-length album in 2013.
VaShawn Mitchell – An American gospel singer and songwriter, he has produced several Stellar Award-winning projects and songs for Grammy Award winners Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Smokie Norful. His single, Nobody Greater, was the most played gospel song of the year in 2011. He was the most nominated artist at the 27th Annual Stellar Awards; receiving 11 nods and walking away with 6 statues and was nominated for 2 Grammy Awards at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards for Best Gospel Performance for Nobody Greater and Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album Triumphant.
Le’Andria Johnson – She was the season three winner of the BET gospel singing competition show Sunday Best. Her Sunday Best coronation song, I Shall Leap into My Destiny, which she co-wrote, entered the Billboard Gospel chart at number one. A debut seven-song EP, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson, was released in 2011, followed by a second seven-song EP, The Evolution of Le’Andria Johnson, in 2012. The two EPs were then combined in 2012 to make a full album, titled The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson Deluxe. A second full-length, the live The Experience, also appeared in 2012. During 2015, she appeared on the Oxygen reality TV series Preachers of Atlanta, a spin-off of their hit show Preachers of L.A. She returned with her second album, Bigger Than Me, two years later. She is the first Sunday Best contestant to receive a Grammy Award, which she won in 2012 for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance.
Wess Morgan – It could be his powerful, soulful voice, or his refreshing delivery that makes inspirational artist Wess Morgan such a thrill to bear witness to. Or maybe it’s because he has walked on a rough path—one that might have made another falter—that makes his music so moving, so unique, and so unforgettable. But one thing is for certain, Wess, by the grace of God, has proven that he is strong, resilient, and one of the most talented and anointed gospel/inspirational artists of this generation. He released his third album entitled Livin‘ in 2014. The singles “You Paid It All” and “Cry” are touching lives all over the world.
Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson – As a youngster, Keith Johnson was given the nickname “Wonderboy” due to his talent as a vocalist. Early on, he was a member of the Spiritual Voices, a group put together by his father. Beginning with the Brooklyn native’s debut album, Through the Storm (1998), he was a regular presence on Billboard’s gospel albums chart, whether he recorded for Worldwide, Verity, or Central South. Throughout his discography, he remained true to his traditional gospel inspirations, which included the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Shirley Caesar, and the Hawkins Family.
Melba Moore – Tony Award winner and two-time Grammy Award nominee, Melba Moore’s talent has earned her a long and rewarding career in records, theater and television, and her powerful and beautiful four-octave voice has endeared her to music lovers around the world as one of the great virtuoso singers of Gospel, Pop, Classical and Jazz Standards.
Cissy Houston – Singing since the age of five, touring the country with her family gospel group, The Drinkard Singers, she graced the stage with such Gospel luminaries as Mahalia Jackson and Alex Bradford. The Drinkard Singers performed at Carnegie Hall and in the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival, which led to a recording contract with RCA. They went on to record three landmark gospel albums. As a solo artist, Cissy Houston has recorded 12 albums and garnered two Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Soul Gospel for her albums Face To Face and He Leadeth Me. She has graced stages around the world, from stadiums to intimate cabaret rooms.
McDonald’s New York Tri-State Area Owner/Operators have tapped Emmy Award winner A. Curtis Farrow as Producer and Executive Director for the 18th consecutive year. “For 36 years, New York Tri-State Area McDonald’s has been giving back to the gospel community and we appreciate it,” said A. Curtis Farrow. “In my 18 years of producing this spectacular event, I must say I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s line-up. This is our 36th year featuring talent from all ages and backgrounds, and I’m so excited!”
McDonald’s Gospelfest is an event that offers a full day experience. From 5 pm to 7 pm there is the competition which includes rising stars of all ages and cultures competing in a variety of categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. There thousands of amateur artists perform and share the stage with some of the greatest in Gospel History. The noteworthy gospel concert, beginning at 7:00 pm, will feature some of the greatest artists in music history. Music is a universal language and McDonald’s Gospelfest is all about spreading love, peace, and joy to everyone and welcomes all races, nationalities, and beliefs.
McDonald’s Gospelfest originated in 1983 under the auspices of the McDonald’s Corporation and the McDonald’s New York Metro Owner/Operator Association. Over thirty years later, it has emerged as the nation’s preeminent Gospel celebration, bringing joy, inspiration, encouragement and hope to millions of Americans. Previous McDonald’s Gospelfest participants have gone on to successful careers in entertainment, including the renowned Bishop Hezekiah Walker.
About McDonald’s New York Tri-State Restaurants
McDonald’s is one of the world’s best-known brands and is a global leader in food service. There are more than 600 McDonald’s restaurants, owned by 100 franchisees, located throughout the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Tri-State area.