BY MARK WEBER
Gospel music fans will soon be streaming to the Centrium in Red Deer to hear some of the finest artists in the genre today as Canada’s Gospel Music Celebration runs July 7th – 9th.
Events kick off Thursday.
The box office opens at 4 p.m. as does the exhibit hall, with celebration concerts running from 6 to 11 p.m.
Featured groups this year include The Hoppers, the Jim Brady Trio, the Tribute Quartet, Greater Vision, Roset, Potters Clay, the Freedom Singers, Double Portion, Southern Raised, the Triumphant Quartet and the Amundruds among others.
The Amundruds combine their light-hearted, down to earth humour with songs from their latest release Sweetest Sound which features modern country/pop songs combined with faith-based lyrics.
According to their web site, they throw in a mix of some of their original music, some well-known Gospel songs or hymns and always feature Daryl Amundrud on at least one dynamic and powerful piano solo each night.
Multi-award winning family group The Hoppers have been singing to global audiences for over 55 years with appearances ranging from presidential religious inaugural ceremonies and New York’s Carnegie Hall to singing conventions and church platforms.
Known as America’s Favourite Family of Gospel Music, they are favourites on the Gaither Homecoming videos and tours, and their recordings frequently land at the top of the Billboard sales charts and The Singing News radio charts.
Comprised today of family members Claude and Connie, son Dean and his wife, Kim, and son Mike Hopper, The Hoppers were formed in 1957 in the rural-farm town of Madison, North Carolina and have grown continuously for decades, touching countless lives around the world.
Organizers have described the Gospel Music Celebration as having an uptown, camp-meeting feel to it which leans heavily to ministry and a church service environment as well.
Morning chapel runs Friday and Saturday mornings at 9:30 a.m. with Leon Throness in the Parkland Pavilion with musical guests the Jim Brady Trio on Friday and the Triumphant Quartet on Saturday.
Another popular group returning this year is Greater Vision which has inspired audiences for a quarter century with their rich vocal blend and their effective ability to communicate the message of the gospel.
According to their web site, they have established a firm place at the pinnacle of Christian music, and have become the most awarded trio in the history of Gospel music.
“The vocals and rich harmony Greater Vision has become recognized for are the result of the blending of three unique and versatile vocalists. Gerald Wolfe, the group’s founder, sings the lead and serves as emcee. Prolific songwriter, Rodney Griffin, handles the baritone part for the trio, while Chris Allman, also a prolific writer, sings the tenor.”
Greater Vision is heard daily by listeners of traditional Christian radio, as well as Satellite and Internet radio. They are also seen regularly on the In Touch television program, hosted by Dr. Charles Stanley, and on the Gaither Gospel Series.
Members of the Freedom Singers, Simon Ivascu, Steven Ivascu and Wesley Pop, fled Romania when they were only teenagers.
In Romania, their native land, at that time, all young men, upon completing high school, were forced to join the army. Being conscientious Christians, they could not join the army because freedom of worship was totally restricted. Refusing to join would result in several years of imprisonment and persecution.
According to their web site, determined to escape to freedom, they all faced danger and hardships fleeing from Romania to Italy, but Ivascu and Pop’s nightmare began in earnest when they crawled into a container, were then locked and sealed, and placed aboard a container vessel.
“There they spent two weeks in total darkness as they baked in the heat for days before being loaded onto the ship, headed to an unknown destination. They ran out of food, water, oxygen and hope.”
But the men say that God provided another of many miracles in this incredible real life story of faith and perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds.
This trio has been singing since their days in Italy shortly after fleeing Romania. Ivascu recalls, “We were singing mostly hymns together, back when we were in Italy, but we started to sing Southern Gospel music in 2000, after we heard the Gaithers and the Cathedrals on television. It was a sound that we instantly fell in love with.
“After singing at local churches and telling our story, it was suggested to actually give our group a name the ‘Freedom Singers’.”
For more information about Canada’s Gospel Music Celebration, visit www.gospelmusic.ca, email email@example.com or call 1-800-410-0188.