In its 10th year, McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour returned to the Kennedy Center for the second year in a row. The ICGT was hosted by the Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation (GMHMF) as part of its annual “Evolution of Gospel” concert. The evening brought together every genre in gospel music: contemporary, traditional, inspirational, instrumental, hip-hop, and comedy.
Hosted by syndicated radio personality Lonnie Hunter and Dr. Bobby Jones, the show featured Donald Lawrence, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark-Sheard, Charles Jenkins, Jonathan McReynolds, Canton Jones and Doug Williams.
The show kicked into high gear with its opening as Charles Jenkins got the concert started with his high octane hit, “War.” Flanked by the rest of the ICGT performerd Jenkins propelled the audience into euphoric praise.
After opening remarks by Gospel Music Heritage Month co-founder, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), GMHMF Chair Carl Davis and McDonald’s franchise owner Isaac Green, the audience was treated to a night of song that would be punctuated by tributes to the Foundation’s honorees; Gospel music legends Edwin Hawkins and Hezekiah Walker; philanthropist and Kennedy Center Trustee Reginald Van Lee; and Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Jonathan McReynolds enchanted the crowd with hit songs, “Gotta Have You” and “No Gray.” He recalled growing up COGIC and being a guitar player. He added a touch of humor about the songs of old, saying there were about 80 that all sounded the same. McReynolds then launched into a medley of church standards like, “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus” and many more.
Doug Williams sang “Let It Go” from his new album and gave his testimony about having a tumor in his throat and not being sure that he would still be able to sing. Needless to say, Williams is back to doing what he loves. After his testimony, he launched into the appropriately timely, “I’m Still Here.”
Charles Jenkins returned later in the evening with his chart-topping hit, “Winning.” Jenkins got lots of audience participation on what he called a feel-good song. All across the concert hall hands were thrown up in the air to signify “Winning.” And of course, no Jenkins performance would be complete without his enduring hit, “Awesome” and he definitely gave the audience what they were expecting.
There was something for everyone as Christian hip hop artist Canton Jones delivered a highly charged performance. Jones proved that his music is for all ages and the audience, filled with every age spectrum, stood and swayed to his beats throughout his performance.
Marvin Sapp performed his songs, “Yes You Can” “You Shall Live” and his enduring song, “Never Would Have Made It.” He didn’t forget about the hymns, as he delivered on “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”and more as he created an atmosphere of both worship and praise.
The ever-fabulous Karen Clark Sheard gave a tour de force performance singing both her hits and those of the Clark Sisters, even giving the audience a little of “Balm in Gilead.” She totally captivated the audience with her vocal dynamics. As usual, she left the audience in awe.
As if that wasn’t enough, Donald Lawrence hit the stage and launched into many of his hits, including those he produced for others. It was a living, breathing songbook that demonstrated how versatile and prolific an artist Lawrence really is.
After the finale, there’s no doubt the audience walked away full, having eaten at the table of plenty as ICGT delivered a smorgasboard of gospel’s best. The McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour will hold its final concert October 15 at the Taste of Soul Family Festival in Los Angeles, CA. For ticket information, click here.
Photo credit: Ven Sherrod