Stars Serve Strong Medicine at Chicago Gospel Music Festival Preview

gospel fest preview

KEM, Tye Tribbett, and Anita Wilson at Chicago Gospel Music Festival Preview yesterday.

By Bob Marovich

“The Bible says, ‘Be fruitful and multiply,'” award-winning gospel artist Tye Tribbett told a standing room only crowd gathered at the 30th Chicago Gospel Music Festival Preview event last night.

“That means be fruitful before you multiply. Some artists want to multiply before they are fruitful!”

Tribbett’s recommendation to get the music right before going gonzo with the promotion was one of many golden nuggets he and R&B artist KEM dished out during a discussion facilitated by gospel artist Anita Wilson.

The event, which took place at the Chicago Cultural Center Monday night, May 11, was co-sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Chicago Chapter of the Recording Academy.

jonathan mcreynolds 511

Jonathan McReynolds

Wilson asked KEM and Tribbett questions covering a variety of topics–from clever marketing techniques and the pros and cons of social media to selecting the right producer, developing one’s brand, and not chasing the current musical trend.  All agreed that recordings in this era of instantaneous online music are better for building attention for live programs than as an income stream.

The informality of the session, coupled with the singers’ humorous anecdotes, made the sometimes bitter medicine about the reality of the music industry much easier to swallow.

Before the discussion, Ivy Hall of DCASE and Mark Hubbard of the Recording Academy gave the audience a brief overview of the Chicago Gospel Music Festival. This year’s event, which will take place entirely in Millenium Park May 29 through 31, will include one of the festival’s most star-powered lineups in some time.

Artists scheduled to perform at the fest include Richard Smallwood, Ricky Dillard & New G, Jonathan McReynolds, Anita Wilson, Brian Courtney Wilson, JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise, Israel Houghton & New Breed, Marvin Sapp, Anthony Brown & Group TherApy, and a Donald Lawrence-organized tribute to the late Andrae Crouch and Walter Hawkins.

For the musical portion of the preview evening, Nicole Harris sang her single, “Always,” and Jonathan McReynolds did an acoustic set.

Perhaps the most moving portion of the program was when Tye Tribbett publicly acknowledged that hearing Mark Hubbard’s music for the first time helped inspire him to become a gospel artist.

For more information about the Chicago Gospel Music Festival, including the full schedule and a special history of Chicago gospel written by JGM’s Bob Marovich, visit:

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.

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