The 13th All-Star Gospel Celebration, founded by Tameka Holyfield, was a befitting celebration of gospel in Chicago, the gospel music capital. Featuring NBA players past and present who unashamedly profess their Christian faith and encourage upcoming players who love the Lord to do the same and to do it unapologetically, the show was hosted by Maurice Evans; former NBA player turned successful businessman and entrepreneur and Sonya Blake, Chicago’s own 1390 AM gospel radio personality.
Richaun Holmes, the towering power forward for the Sacramento Kings, was an amazing Red Carpet Correspondent. Richaun is no stranger to Chicago; he was born and raised in Broadview 12 miles from downtown Chicago. Richaun credits his father for instilling in him Christian values and principles. He thanks him for his current success. His father, Richard Holmes, is the Senior Pastor of Morning View Word Church located on the south side of Chicago, on East 45th Street, a place “where you always get a fresh look at JESUS!” Richaun had this to say to encourage younger Christian players: “Don’t be ashamed. Focus on you and your relationship with God. Don’t be afraid to live out loud and give God all the glory.”
The artists on the docket came to the All-Star Gospel Celebration with one mission in mind: to celebrate Jesus Christ.
Kareem Rush, a former NBA player, was one of the guest artists. He shared his second love of music and gave the audience a taste of the classic hit by BoysIIMen; It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye. Kareem shared with the Defender that he will be auditioning for the upcoming season of The Voice.
Sir the Baptist, the lyrical genius ripped the stage with his crowd-rocking renditions of urban hymns.
Chicago native, Dove-award winning, 3-time GRAMMY award-winning and recipient of 8 Stellar awards, Jonathan McReynolds blessed the stage with his smooth, vocal artistry. He came with that Chicago swag, gave us a snippet of his guitar-playing skills, and even gifted the crowd with a sample of his new song. Hit!
Angella Christie, a gospel saxophonist, exploded the stage with her incredible talent. She may be pint-sized, but her musical gifting had an enormous impact on the audience. People stood to their feet as she belted out her uplifting versions of classic gospel songs such as Draw Me Nearer.
LeAndria Johnson shook the auditorium and touched the hearts of everyone with her popular song, Deliver Me, written by Donald Lawrence. The moment she stepped on the stage, the audience was on their feet ready to receive her message of hope, faith, and her powerful testimony of how God delivered her from her greatest enemy – herself.
Tye Tribbett climaxed the celebration and did all and more that is expected from him. He danced from one end of the stage to the other. He showed off his vocal and instrumental skills, all while engaging the audience as only he can. His final performance included the All-Star Gospel Choir singing his popular song, Victory.
Of course, with the untimely and shocking passing of the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, a heartfelt, tear-jerking video tribute was presented during the gospel celebration. From the players who were interviewed on the red carpet, the one thing that resonated from all of them about Kobe is that his legacy, his passion for the game, and the example he set as a leader on and off the court will forever live on. Mamba may be gone but certainly will never be forgotten.
The All-Star Gospel Celebration was more than a showcase of gospel musical performances. It also bestowed prestigious awards to living legends such as Anthony Tolliver, a former player for the Sacramento Kings; Don Jackson, founder and president of the Stellar Awards; Cynt Marshall, NBA’s first African American female CEO; Terry Cummings, former NBA player and now Senior Pastor of Egneto Ministries.
Contributing Writer, Kim Durden