BET’s Celebration of Gospel Lives up to its Legacy

Hosted by Taraji P. Henson, gospel music’s biggest celebration featured several soul stirring gospel and R&B collaborations.

Donnie McClurkin

With elaborate sets, moments of magic and stirring live performances, BET’s annual Celebration of Gospel, which took place on Saturday, lived up to the show’s 14-year legacy. Hosted by Taraji P. Henson, gospel music’s biggest celebration featured several soul stirring gospel and R&B collaborations. From Charlie Wilson’s lively performance which was arguably the night’s top performance to Yolanda Adams’ evangelical fervor, the show brought together top artists from both the secular and gospel music worlds. Host of BET's Celebration of Gospel Taraji P. Henson Taking over the reins from TV personality Steve Harvey who has hosted the show for the past 13 years, Henson asked the audience to give Harvey a warm applause. “He was kind enough to pass the torch and I am so excited. Hosting the show is an opportunity to share my faith with you and celebrate God’s music,” added the Academy-Award nominated actress. “Everyone who knows me and who follows me on social media knows that I love God, so hosting this show was a no brainer.” Henson told Caribpress’ Samantha Ofole-Prince earlier. “I am going to be myself as that is all I know how to do and I’m here to have a good time tonight.” Kicking off the evening’s celebration was Deitrick Haddon. With an awe-inspiring display of both endurance and talent, the minister and gospel singer who appears on the Oxygen docu-series “Preachers of L.A.” roared on stage performing his single “Great God.” This was followed by Tamela Mann and Sisters with Voices, the R&B Grammy-nominated trio from New York City better known as SWV. Powerhouse vocalist Yolanda Adams had the audience on their feet, including celebrity guest Kenny Lattimore, as she belted out the hit “The Only Way.” Performing “Same God,” Tye Tribbett, who was joined by Donnie McClurkin sang, cajoled, conducted, and danced, while acoustic soul artist India Arie gave a more subdued performance with contemporary gospel artist Jonathan McReynolds.

Jonathan McReynolds and India.Arie - photo courtesy of BET Networks

Other performers included “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard, “Sunday Best”

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winner LeAndria Johnson, and soulful crooner Kem who joined forces to raise the praise as a triumphant trio. With elements from gospel, jazz, blues, and R&B, Lalah Hathaway performed with Zacardi Cortez and Chante Moore had a musical number with Vashawn Mitchell.

The Grammy nominated trio SWV performing onstage

Midway through the show, there was a touching tribute to gospel music pioneer Richard Smallwood and rousing spoken word pieces from Pastor Shirley Caesar and Dr. Bobby Jones. Eddie Levert of The Ojay’s also made a special appearance much to the audience’s delight, but the evening’s most definitive moments came from Charlie Wilson who confirmed that he’s still the singer and showman he was in the early ‘80s when he led the Gap Band through its biggest hits.

Charlie Wilson stole the show at BET's Celebration of Gospel

BET’s annual gospel music special, “Celebration of Gospel” will air on Sunday, April 6 at 8 p.m./EST. Pictured from top to bottom: Donnie McClurkin, host Taraji P. Henson, Jonathan McReynolds and India Arie, SWV, Charlie Wilson (photos courtesy of BET Networks)

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